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White Bass

White Bass
Other Names: 
Sand bass
Silver bass
Scientific Name: 
Morone chrysops

The white bass looks similar to a shortened version of its larger relative, the striped bass.

As with other true basses, the dorsal fin is clearly double, separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions.

White bass are silvery shading from dark-gray or black on the back to white on the belly. Several incomplete lines or stripes run horizontally on each side of the body.

Adults resemble young striped bass, and the two are often confused. However, striped bass have two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue, and white bass have one tooth patch. Striped bass have two sharp points on each gill cover, as opposed to white bass which have one, and the second spine on the anal fin is about half the length of the third spine in striped bass, whereas it is about two-thirds the length of the third spine in white bass.

Fish Habitat: 

White bass are found in large lakes and streams connected to major river systems and in rivers with moderate current. They prefer clear water with a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees. Man-made impoundments have greatly favored the white bass, but the species is one that can become overabundant and stunted.

Fish Habits: 

White bass are active early spring spawners. Schools of males migrate upstream to spawning areas as much as a month before females. There is no nest preparation. Spawning occurs either near the surface, or in midwater. Running water with a gravel or rock substrate is preferred. Females rise to the surface and several males crowd around as the eggs and sperm are released. Large females sometimes release nearly a million small eggs during the spawning season. After release eggs sink to the bottom and become attached to rocks, hatching in 2-3 days. Fry grow rapidly, feeding on small invertebrates. White bass may grow eight or nine inches during the first year. Adults are usually found in schools. Feeding occurs near the surface where fish, crustaceans, and emerging insects are found in abundance. Gizzard and threadfin shad are the preferred food items. White bass more than four years of age are rare.

White bass are migratory open-water fish. Most of their life is spent in the open-water portions of reservoirs chasing schools of small gizzard and threadfin shad.

In late winter (December-January) schools of white bass migrate to the upper portion of reservoirs awaiting environmental cues signaling the start of the spawning migration up major tributaries.

In February and March they begin their spawning migration seeking clean gravel and rock substrate with good flow to spawn. Riffles and shoals are common spawning locations. How far white bass migrate is extremely variable, but it is not uncommon to find spawning white bass 25-50 miles above the reservoir. This may be related to river and stream flow, which varies among years. Fisheries biologists are unsure if adult white bass return to the same spawning spot each year, or if it is a random occurrence.

After spawning, adult fish migrate back into the main body of the reservoir. The whole spawning migration is usually complete by sometime in May. Interestingly, “tributary” spawning may not be inherent in all white bass. Some white bass may spend their entire lives in the main portion of reservoirs, spawning on wind-blown, rocky shoals instead of in major tributaries.

Adult Size: 

10 to 15 in (254 to 380 mm).

World Record: 

6 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in Lake Orange, in Orange, Virginia, in 1989.

Fishing Tactics: 

Schools of white bass feeding on shad generate much excitement in the fishing community. Once a school has been located, successful anglers often fish the surface with spoons or spinners. Bottom fishing at night with live bait may also produce great success. White bass are excellent fighters, and are considered superb table fare.


White bass are native to the the central US west of the Appalachians, including the Great Lakes, as well as river systems in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. In Texas the species is native to the Red River drainage.

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