Morone mississippiensis

yellow bass



Type Locality

St. Louis, Missouri, and New Orleans, Louisiana (Jordan and Eigenmen 1887).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Morone, a name of unknown derivation; mississippiensis, named for the Mississippi River (Ross 2001).



Morone mississippiensis Jordan and Eigenmann 1887:295 in Eigenmann 1887.

Name for M. interrupta [or Roccus interruptus], which is a junior synonym of Morone saxatilis; R. M. Bailey 1956).

Morone interrupta Gill 1860:118

Morone interruta Hildebrand and Towers 1928:135.

Roccus interruptus Cook 1959:168.



Maximum size: The IFGA (1999) record: 1.16 kg fish caught from Duck River, Waverly, Tennessee, in 1998 (Boschung and Mayden 2004).


Coloration: Stripes along sides usually sharply broken and off set above front of anal fin (Hubbs et al. 1991). The back is olive green to olive-gray and the abdomen is whit to yellow. The sides are yellowish silver and have five to seven black or brown lateral stripes located mostly on the upper and middles sides. The median fins are dark to dusky, and the paired fins are clear to white. The eye is often yellow (Ross 2001).


Pharyngeal teeth count: No teeth no tongue (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Counts: 9-10 anal fin soft rays (Hubbs et al 1991); 47-55 scales in the lateral line; 19-25 gill rakers; 10 dorsal spines; 11 (11-12) dorsal rays; 3 anal spines; 15-16 (15-17) pectoral rays (Ross 2001).


Body shape: Moderately deep bodied, laterally compressed fish (Ross 2001).


Mouth position: Terminal (Goldstein and Simon 1999).


External morphology: Dorsal fins united at base; second and third anal fin spines approximately equal in length (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Native to central Mississippi Valley and adjacent drainages (Hubbs et al 1991).


Texas distribution: Restricted from the Red River southward to the San Jacinto Drainage (Hubbs et al 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)

Not listed as threatened or endangered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

(2006). Populations in southern United States are currently secure (Warren et al., 2000).


Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Moderately common in quiet pools and backwaters of large streams, lakes, and reservoirs (Burgess 1980). Relatively clear waters of large rivers, oxbow lakes, or impoundments (Ross 2001).


Mesohabitat: Do best in waters with little vegetation and in waters with a high carp population (Carlander 1997); less tolerant of turbidity than M. chrysops (Smith 1979).



Spawning season: Late April – early June depending on location; spawning stimulated by a rise in water temperature and occurring ranging from 14.5-26 degrees C (Carlander 1997); April or May with the peak of spawning between April 15 and May 15 (Burnham 1909).


Spawning habitat: Gravelly bottoms in waters 0.6-0.9m deep (Burgess 1980; Pflieger 1997). Phytolithophils; nonobligatory plant spawner that deposit eggs on submerged items (Simon 1999; Balon 1981).


Reproductive strategy: While spawning, the female lies partly on her right side and ejects eggs toward the male, who remains upright over her and fertilizes the eggs as they are released; females do not release their entire egg complement in a single spawning (Burnham 1909). The eggs hatch in 4 to 6 days at a temperature of 21 degrees C, and yolk sac is absorbed in 4 days (Burgess 1980; Pflieger 1997; Carlander 1997). Phytolithophils have late hatching larvae with cement glands in free embryos, have larvae with moderately developed respiratory structures, and have larvae that are photophobic (Simon 1999; Balon 1981).


Fecundity: Eggs slightly adhesive, 0.76mm in diameter (Carlander 1997).


Age at maturation: Both males and females mature at age II in Reelfoot Lake, TN and at age III in Wisconsin. In Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1966, males matured at age II and 140 mm, but most females not until age IV at 180 mm with a few at age III at 170 mm (Carlander 1997).


Migration: Moves into tributary streams in April and May to spawn (similar to M. chrysops; Burgess 1980).


Growth and population structure: Developing larvae form schools and show initial rapid growth, reaching about 25 mm TL in three weeks (Burnham 1909). In Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, M. mississippiensis reached a length of about 7.7 inches by its second year of life and was 8.7, 9.5, and 10.7 inches long by the end of succeeding years (Schoffman 1958). Species grew well in moderately turbid waters in large lakes and rivers but poorly in moderately to highly turbid waters in small lakes (Carlander 1997).


Longevity: Approximately 6 years (Pflieger 1997).


Food habits: Invertivore/carnivore (Goldstein and Simon 1999); feeding in mid-water or near surface, in schools; young feeding primarily on small crustaceans and insects, with adult diet consisting of fish, including their own (Collier 1959; Welker 1963). With increasing size (up to 150 mm TL) the importance of aquatic insects may increase, but some populations continue to utilize zooplankton for the majority of the diet (Darnell 1961; Kraus 1963; Van Den Avyle 1983). Helm (1964) reported a definite feeding pattern – feeding shortly after dark and again at daylight, and listed main food items as 92% Cladoceran, 92%Copepoda, 68% Chironomidae larvae, 52% Chironomidae pupae, 16% Chaoborinae, 20% fish remains, 28% Ostracoda; Ephemeroptera, Hydracarina, and Corixidae occurred less frequently.


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

Most similar to Morone chrysops and M. saxatilis, differing from both in having the lateral stripes offset just above the anal fin and in lacking patches of teeth on the tongue; also differing from the M. chrysops in having fewer anal fin rays (9-10 versus 11-13), joined versus separate dorsals, and all anal spines the same length (versus the third longer than the second; Ross 2001). Larvae can be distinguished from those of M. chrysops and M. saxatilis by pterygiophore interdigitation patterns (Carlander 1997). M. chrysops X M. mississippiensis hybrid reported by Fries and Harvey (1989) in Texas, and by Becker (1983), in Wisconsin.


Host Records



Commercial or Environmental Importance

Hubbs et al. (1991) state that although the species is reduced in abundance in Texas, it was a common, commercially harvested fish in the 1800’s; often erroneously referred to as the “striped bass.” In some areas, it is of importance as a sport fish though it is not as sought after as M. chrysops, the white bass, as it is of smaller size and tends to stunt (Pflieger 1997). In Mississippi, harvest of this fish is encouraged because of tendency for overpopulation, especially in delta lakes (Ross 2001). In some parts of their range, including streams in Illinois, yellow bass populations have declined, apparently due to increased turbidity (Smith 1979). Flesh of yellow bass is white, firm, flaky, and delicious; often compared to that of the yellow perch

(Perca flavescens), and generally considered superior to the flesh of the white bass (Becker 1983).



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Balon E. K. 1981. Additions and amendments to the classification of reproductive styles in fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 6:377-389.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 1052 pp.

Boschung, H.T., Jr., and R.L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books, Washington. 736 pp.

Burgess, G.H. 1980. Ichthyomyzon castaneus (Jordan and Eigenmann), Yellow Bass. pp.575 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854 pp.

Burnham, C. W. 1909. Notes on the yellow bass. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc., 39:103-108

Carlander, K. D. 1997. Handbook of Freshwater Fishery Biology. Iowa State University Press, Ames, Vol. 3:397 pp.

Collier, J. E. 1959. Changes in fish populations and food habits of yellow bass in North Twin Lake, 1956-1958. Proc. Iowa Acad. Sci., 66:518-522

Cook, F.A. 1959. Freshwater fishes in Mississippi. Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, Jackson. 239 pp.

Darnell, R. M. 1961. Trophic spectrum of an estuarine community based on studies of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. Ecology 42(3):553-568

Eigenmann, C. H. 1887. Notes on the specific names of certain North American fishes. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia Proceedings 39:295-296

Fries, L.T., and W.D. Harvey. 1989. Natural hybridization of white with yellow bass in Texas. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 118:87-89.

Gill, T. 1860. Monograph of the genus Labrax, of Cuvier. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil. 12:108-119.

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Hildebrand, S.F. and I.L. Towers. 1928. Annotated list of fishes collected in the vicinity of Greenwood Mississippi, with descriptions of three new species. Bull. U.S. Bur. Fish. 43(2)105-136.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards and G.P. Garret. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Kraus, R. 1963. Food habits of the yellow bass, Roccus mississippiensis, Clear Lake, Iowa, summer 1962. Proc. Iowa Acad. Sci. 70:209-215

Pflieger, W. L. 1997. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, 372 pp.

Ross, S. T. 2001. The Inland Fishes of Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi, Singapore, 624 pp.

Schoffman, R. J. 1958. Age and rate of growth of the yellow bass in Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, for 1955 and 1957. J. Tenn. Acad. Sci., 33(1):101-105

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Van Den Avyle, M. J., B. J. Higginbotham, B. t. James, and F. J. Bulow. 1983. Habitat preferences and food habits of young-of-the-year striped bass, white bass, and yellow bass in Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee. N. Amer. J. Fish. Managm. 3(2):163-170

Warren, L. W., Jr., B. M. Burr, S. J. Walsh, H. L. Bart, Jr., R. C. Cashner, D. A. Etnier, B. J. Freeman, B. R. Kuhajda, R. L. Mayden, H. W. Robison, S. T. Ross, and W. C. Starnes. 2000. Diversity, Distribution, and Conservation status of the native freshwater fishes of the southern United States. Fisheries 25(10):7-29.

Welker, B. D. 1963. Summer food habits of yellow bass and black bullheads in Clear Lake. Proc. Iowa Acad. Sci., 69:286-295

Whitehead, P. J. P. and A. C. Wheeler. 1966. The generic names used for the sea basses of Europe and N. America (Pisces: Serranidae). Ann. Mus. Civ. Storia. Nat. Genova 76:23-41