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, and the lower jaw projects beyond out than the upper jaw.

The white bass is a freshwater member of the temperate bass family, or Moronidae, a small family of fish that includes five additional species: European seabass, spotted seabass, white perch, yellow bass and striped bass. Many of the species in the family are targeted through recreational fisheries as well as commercial fisheries. 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.

White bass can be found in many of the Great Lakes (except Lake Superior) as well as in some inland lakes. This species plays a large role in the fisheries of Lake Erie and the St. Clair-Detroit River System. White bass live in a variety of habitat types, 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. White bass are a very mobile species, capable of traveling over 100 miles and have strong spawning site fidelity.

Male white bass remain near spawning locations for much of the duration of the spawning season while female white bass enter onto the shoals from deeper water, release eggs and then return to deeper water. Spawning activity occurs in the spring, beginning as water temperatures approach 60° Fahrenheit and can continue for several weeks. During a spawning event the female will release eggs near the water surface and males will fertilize the demersal eggs as the drop down the water column. 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, mainly consisting of minnow species. 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.