White bass
Morone chrysops (Rafinesque, 1820)

member of the Temperate Bass Family (Percichthydiae)

Mississippi River, Houston County, Minnesota 5 October 1992













What's In a Name?
White bass: refers to the light background color of this bass-shaped species

Morone (Moe-rone´-ay) meaning unknown
chrysops (cry´-sops) means "golden eye " in Greek


    Where Do They Live?
White bass occur in the Minnesota, lower Mississippi, and lower St. Croix drainages. They have turned up recently in the southern portion of the Red River drainage. White bass inhabit large rivers and river lakes, where they favor clear water with some current over sandy or rocky bottoms with little to no vegetation.


How Big Do They Get?
How Long Do They Live?
In Minnesota, white bass often reach a length of about 340-mm (13 in) and a weight of 0.9-1.1 kg (2-2.5 lbs). The state record shared by two fish, is 457 mm (about 18 in) and 1.8 kg (4 lbs). White bass often live for 5-7 years, but there have been records of them reaching 9 years old.

    What Do They Eat?
The white bass is a life-long carnivore (meat-eater). As larvae, they begin with waterfleas and copepods but quickly begin to include insect larvae and even larval fish, especially carp. Adults continue to include waterfleas and insect larvae and add sideswimmers and a wide array of fishes (including gizzard shad, yellow perch, crappies, sunfish, trout-perch, brook silversides, and minnows). White bass travel in schools, feeding as they move.

What Eats Them?
Predation of white bass has not been studied. Because they spend time in schools, near the surface of the water, some fish-eating birds are likely to prey on the young and smaller adults. Young and small adults probably are eaten by some river piscivores (fish-eating), but we don't have records. We do know that anglers take many of these fish each year, especially during their spawning runs.


How Do They Reproduce?
White bass breed in the spring (usually May) when the water temperature rises to 16°C (86.4° F). Adults form schools (sometimes of only one sex) and meet other schools at their spawning areas in tributaries of river or lakes, or choppy water near shorelines. The homing ability of white bass brings many individuals back to the same breeding site year after year. The spawning takes place over a hard bottom of sand, gravel, or rubble. Several males, usually three, escort the female and they swim fast back and forth over the site while the fish release their eggs and sperm. The fertilized eggs sink to the bottom and stick to the gravel or sand. A given population will spawn for 5-10 days before returning to deeper water. A single female can produce an incredible number of eggs, anywhere from 250,000 to almost a million! Embryos develop very quickly and hatch in 2-3 days, depending on the water temperature. New hatched embryos stay in the spawning area for several days while they begin to develop fin rays and a functional digestive system.


Conservation and Management
The white bass is a valued sportfish in our larger southern rivers, especially during the spawning run. White bass will strike on minnows and a variety of lures. Because they move in schools and return to the same spawning areas year after years, anglers are able to locate them readily and catch large numbers in a short time.




Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.

Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Gary L. Phillips, Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program

This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
and the
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)

Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Last updated 23 October 2002