Part Sixty-eight

White Bass

All About White Bass

By Dick Sternberg and Bill Ignizio
Excerpt from: The Freshwater Angler
Thanks to Cowles Creative Publishing, Inc.

Few gamefish provide as much angling excitement as white bass. The silvery fish cruise about in schools that may cover several acres. Fishermen who find these huge schools often enjoy spectacular fishing.

Distribution Chart

Orginally found in the Great Lakes, St. Lawerence River and the Missippi River system, white bass have been successfully stocked in many other regions, particularly the Southeast and Southwest. Commonly introduced in new reservoirs, they provide excellent fishing two to three years after stocking.

White bass thrive in lakes and reservoirs connected to large river systems. They prefer relatively clear water with gravel, sand or rock bottoms. But they also live in murky waters. Unlike sunfish and crappies, white bass rarely seek cover. Instead, they spend most of their time in open water from 10 to 30 feet deep.

A member of the temperate bass family, the white bass has several close relatives including the white perch, yellow bass and the striped bass. In the 1960s, fisheries biologists first crossed male white bass with female striped bass to produce an aggressive, extremely fast-growing hybrid. These fish are being stocked in many warmwater resevoirs throughout the South.

Close Relatives

Close relatives of the white bass include (1) white perch, which lack lack the horizontal stripes of other temperate bass; (2) yellow bass, which resemble white bass in body shape but have dorsal fins joined slightly at the base; (3) striped bass, which have a slimmer body and distinct, unbroken stripes below the lateral line.

Often called sand bass, striper or silver bass, the white bass has silvery sides laced with rows of dark lines. Its belly is white, but the back may vary from bluish-gray to dark green.

White bass rely primarily on eyesight for chasing and catching their prey. In most waters, they feed almost exclusively on small shad, when they are available. They also eat emerald shinners and other small fish, in addition to crayfish, mollusks, worms and insects. White bass gorge themselves on mayflies during a hatch.

In waters with large populations of shad, white bass grow quickly. In warm, southern reservoirs, a fish may reach 1 pound after just two years. But white bass to not attain large sizes, because they seldom live longer than six years.

Most white bass caught by angling weigh between 1and 2 pounds. The world record, taken from Lake Orange, Virginia, in 1989, weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

White bass spawn in tributary streams of large lakes and reservoirs, typically in water 58 to 64 degrees F. They do not build nests. The female deposits her eggs in the current, while the male releases his sperm, fertilizing the eggs as they sink. The eggs stick to gravel, rocks or vegetation where they normally hatch within 24 to 48 hours. A female may deposit more than a half-million eggs.

Spawning activity usually last five to ten days. Parents do not guard the eggs, but begin migrating back to the lake.

After hatching, the tiny fry form dense schools, a characteristic that white bass exhibit all of ther lives. The schools move about constantly, some roaming as much as seven miles a day. Tagged white bass have been found over 100 miles away from where they were marked.

Where to Find White Bass Next Time!

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