White Bass


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Common Name
White Bass
Category
Fish
ScientificName
Morone chrysops
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Osteichthyes
Order
Perciformes
Family
Moronidae
Genus
Morone
Species
chrysops
SubSpecies
 

 

Description
White bass are freshwater members of the temperate bass family Moronidae. Many of its members are marine fish, which includes striped bass. White bass are laterally compressed with olive or gray-blue above fading to silver or white on the sides. Stripes are gray, olive, or black and are not continuous below the lateral line. The mouth of a white bass is nearly vertical and relatively small. The tongue has only one tooth patch at its base. The soft dorsal fin is completely divided from the spiny dorsal portion.
Size
Adult white bass may reach 18 inches in prime habitats. However, most fish range between 6 and 14 inches. These fish grow relatively fast and rarely live more than 6 or 7 years.
Ecological Role
Initially, white bass were the top pelagic (open-water) predator in many of Kentucky’s rivers and reservoirs. Competition between this species and its introduced relatives, the striped and hybrid striped bass, has negatively influenced its numbers. White bass in reservoirs without these competitors primarily feed on gizzard shad and their population numbers fluctuate in response to changes in abundance of this forage species.
Fun Facts
There is an old saying that the white bass make their spawning run when the Dogwood Tree blooms. Many anglers gauge their first white bass fishing trip by this saying. Most angling for these fish occurs in the spring as they make their way up reservoir tributaries or become concentrated below large river dams. White bass are also caught during the summer by anglers that find them concentrated along channel edges in reservoirs and in tailwaters below dams. A fun method of fishing for white bass is fishing the “jumps” during the late summer. Young gizzard shad are forced to the surface by white bass where a turbulent feeding frenzy occurs. Anglers catch white bass by coming near the feeding fish and throw spoons or jigs into the splashing melee. Another interesting way to fish for these fish in late summer is at night under a light at the lake’s surface directed down into the water. Young shad move around the light and anglers catch white bass by fishing minnows in the circling mass of shad.
Food
White bass are schooling fish (often segregated by size) that feed in the open water areas of rivers and reservoirs. Feeding occurs primarily during the crepuscular periods of the day (early morning and late evening). Location of prey is primarily visual and the school feeds as a large group driving the prey to the water’s surface. Small white bass are opportunistic, near-shore feeders utilizing worms, mollusks, insects, fry, and crustaceans. Adults are more piscivorous and seek shad, shiners, and chubs, although they will eat larval insects when necessary.
Cover
 
Nest
 
Breeding
 
Eggs
 
Habitat
Associated with the pelagic (open water) areas of larger streams, rivers, and reservoirs.
Kentucky Distribution
White bass are found statewide in the main channels of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and their major tributaries and reservoirs.
Life Cycle
 
Life Span
6 - 7 years
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
 
Spawning
White bass spawn in the spring as water temperatures reach the middle 50’s. Schools are separated by gender as fish seek creeks, shoals, or gravel bars and begin to mingle. Females are larger than males and produce thousands of eggs. The female signifies readiness to spawn by darting to the surface. Males follow the female and the spawning act occurs near the water’s surface. The fertilized eggs drift in the current and are unattended by the parents. Once hatched, the growth of the young is rapid.
Status
These fish are found throughout Kentucky in major streams, rivers and reservoirs. Some reservoir populations have declined following the introduction of striped bass and hybrid striped bass, a cross between white bass and striped bass.
Uses
 
Voice
 
Young
 
What We Can Do
 
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
Contributed By
 
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