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White Bass, Morone chrysops

White bass

Identifying characteristics: (Native Fish) Two dorsal fins separated into higher spiny and lower soft-rayed portion, nine spines in first dorsal fin, longitudinal bars along its sides.

The white bass is a freshwater member of the sea bass family, or Moronidae, a group that contains many commercial marine species such as the groupers and jew fish. The white bass resembles the sunfish family to which the black bass belong. However the dorsal fin is completely divided and the dorsal spinous portion is higher than in the sunfish family.

The white bass occurs in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Land Huron and Lake St. Clair. It is an important game fish, particularly in Lake Erie.

White bass live in clear waters usually within 20 feet of the surface, where they school and feed by visual orientation. Most feeding occurs during early morning or late evening hours, and can be quite a spectacular sight. Angers have witnessed larger compact schools of white bass driving smaller prey fish to the surface, where the victim leap about in a vain attempt to avoid capture. They appear to be great wanderers, often traveling six to seven miles per day.

Adult white bass swim in schools, often separating into groups of one sex of the other prior to spawning. These schools will move into shoals in the lake to spawn at random in the spring. (May or early June). During spawning, the female indicates readiness by rising to the surface. Several males then rush in and crowd around her, and eggs and sperm drop to the bottom, unattended by either parent. Eggs hatch in two days, and the young grow rapidly on a diet of insects and insect larva, crustaceans, and small fish. As they grow they depend on a fish diet, especially yellow perch. Most become sexually mature at age three, while they average 10 to 11 inches in length. Average adult weight is 3/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. White Bass seldom live longer than seven years.

For more information on how and where to catch white bass see our Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them and Better Fishing Waters.

White bass graphic courtesy of Joseph R. Tomelleri and copyrighted.