Morone mississippiensisBass

Geographic Range

The range of yellow bass is restricted primarily to the Lake Michigan and Mississippi River basins from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and the states in between. Native populations occur in areas of Oklahoma and Texas and extend as far east as central Tennessee. Yellow bass have also been introduced to other areas, including Arizona. This species is mainly found in lowland areas of its range. (Lee, et al., 1980; Page and Burr, 2011; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)


Yellow bass inhabit quiet pools and backwaters of small to large streams, lakes, and reservoirs. The best waters for yellow bass are those that have little vegetation, low turbidity, and high carp populations. They are a freshwater species that is demersal in nature, meaning that they live near or on the bottom of the lake or river. They occur in the subtropical region between 45 degrees north and 27 degrees north. (Carlander, 1997; Froese, 2010; Lee, et al., 1980; Page and Burr, 2011)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • temporary pools

Physical Description

The sides of this species are yellowish-silver in color and have seven lateral stripes that are black or brown and are located on the upper and middle sides of the body. The lower stripes are distinctly broken and offset near their middle. The dorsal area is olive green to olive-gray in color and the abdomen is white to yellow in color. The median fins of are dark to dusky in appearance and the paired fins are clear and white in color. The eyes of individuals are yellow in color. Yellow bass do not have teeth or a tongue. They have 9 to 10 anal fin soft rays, 47 to 55 scales in the lateral line, 19 to 25 gill rakers, 10 dorsal spines, 11 to 12 dorsal rays, 3 anal spines, and 15 to 16 pectoral rays. The body shape is moderately deep and is laterally compressed. The mouth position is terminal. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Page and Burr, 2011; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)

Yellow bass are distinguished from white bass (Morone chrysops) or young striped bass (Morone saxatilis) by their yellow belly color and the lowermost stripes on the body being distinctly broken and offset, as opposed to the silvery color and continuous lines found in the other two species. Yellow bass are easily differentiated from white perch (Morone americana) by their olive to yellow body color and lateral stripes (the latter species has silver-green sides and completely lacks lateral stripes). Yellow bass are also distinctive within the genus Morone because their second and third anal spines are approximately equal in length. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Page and Burr, 2011; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    1.16 (high) kg
    2.56 (high) lb
  • Range length
    46 (high) cm
    18.11 (high) in
  • Average length
    23.9 cm
    9.41 in


Eggs hatch 4 to 6 days after fertilization at a temperature of 21°C. Larvae absorb their yolk sac within four days of hatching. The developing larvae form schools and grow rapidly initially. Yellow bass in a lake in Tennessee reached an average length of almost 20 centimeters at the end of their first year. (Burnham, 1910; Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Pfleiger, 1997; Schoffman, 1958)


Individuals reach sexual maturity between 2 and 4 years in age, depending on their geographic location. Males often mature between 2 and 3 years in age, while females mature between 3 and 4 years in age. Females produce multiple clutches of eggs during each spawning period and produce offspring over multiple years. Yellow bass spawn in the spring (late April to early June) and are stimulated by a rise in water temperature. The spawn occurs at water temperatures from 14.5°C to 26°C. Females do not release all of their eggs in a single spawning, and each spawning is fertilized by multiple males. (Burnham, 1910; Carlander, 1997; Pfleiger, 1997)

Yellow bass breed once yearly between late April and early June in tributary streams or lakes, over gravel or rock reefs. Females lay on their right side and eject eggs toward the male, who fertilizes them as they are released. The male stays upright during this event. Eggs are deposited on gravelly bottoms in waters that are 0.6 to 0.9 meters deep. Information on the number and size of offspring at birth is unavailable. Hybrids have been documented between female striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and male yellow bass. These hybrids are commonly known as paradise bass. (Bosworth, et al., 1998; Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Pfleiger, 1997)

  • Breeding interval
    Yellow bass breed once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Spawning occurs from late April to early June.
  • Range time to hatching
    4 to 6 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 to 4 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 3 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 years

Eggs are slightly adhesive, allowing them to stick to structures in the environment, such as aquatic plants. The eggs receive no care once fertilized. (Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; "Morone mississippiensis", 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female


The maximum known age of yellow bass is 7 years in the wild, though the maximum age attainable in captivity is unknown. Limiting factors and mortality rates are unknown. (Froese, 2010)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    7 (high) years


Yellow bass form schools to feed at midwater or near the surface. Individuals commonly migrate into tributary streams in order to spawn, though they normally occur in quiet pools and backwaters of small to large rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. They are crepuscular in nature, feeding at dusk and dawn. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Lee, et al., 1980)

Home Range

No specific information about the home range of yellow bass is known. A related species (Morone chrysops) has been documented to travel large distances. Yellow bass also show local migration when they move into tributary streams in April and May to spawn. (Lee, et al., 1980; Morgan, 2006)

Communication and Perception

Species in the genus Morone are able to perceive their environment through vision, hearing, chemoreception, and detection of vibrations with the lateral line system. Yellow bass are able to use these sensory systems to sense their environment and interact with conspecifics.

Food Habits

Yellow bass are primarily invertivores/carnivores that feed mid-water or near the surface. Young individuals feed primarily on small crustaceans and insects, though the diet of adults includes fish, including smaller individuals of their own species. The importance of aquatic insects in their diet may increase as individuals grow, but zooplankton make up a majority of their diet in some populations. This species has a well-defined feeding pattern, feeding shortly after dark and again at daylight. (Collier, 1959; Darnell, 1961; Goldstein and Simon, 1999; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Kraus, 1963; Van Den Avyle, et al., 1983; Welker, 1963)

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • insects
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • other marine invertebrates
  • zooplankton


No specific information is available regarding predators or anti-predator adaptations of yellow bass. Species in the same genus as yellow bass, such as white bass (Morone chrysops) and white perch (Morone americana) are preyed upon by species such as white bass, striped bass (Morone saxatilis), walleye (Sander vitreus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), white perch, and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). Predation on white perch often occurs in their embryonic and larval stages, though is not uncommon during their juvenile stage, becoming less common in adults. It is likely that yellow bass have similar predators as other species in their genus due to their similarities in range and habitat. (Martens, 2006; Morgan, 2006)

Ecosystem Roles

Yellow bass play an important role in the ecosystem as a predator and prey animal and also host a number of different parasitic trematodes, nematodes, and cestodes, acanthocephalans, and gill lice. The trematodes that infect them are Onchocleidus interruptus, Allacanthochasmus artus, Allacanthochasmus varius, Azygia angusticauda, Clinostomum complanatum, Diplostomulum, Neochasmus umbellus, Posthodiplostomum minimum, and Tetracotyle. The nematodes infect them are Camallanus oxycephalus, Camallanus, Contracaecum spiculigerum, Spinitectus gracilis, and Leptorhynchoides thecatus. The cestodes that infect them are Proteocephalus ambloplitis, Proteocephalus, and Trypanorhyncha. They are also infected by acanthocephalans (Neoechinorhynchus cylindratus) and gill lice (Ergasilus arthrosis). (Hoffman, 1999)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Yellow bass are harvested for sport and food. They are not as sought after as other fish species such as white bass because of their smaller size. In the 1800's they were harvested commercially. It is conceivable that this species plays an important role in the regulation of insect and zooplankton populations. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of yellow bass on humans.

Conservation Status

Yellow bass are listed as a species of special concern by Minnesota's List of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species. ("Morone mississippiensis", 2011)


Eric Walberg (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Jeremy Wright (author, editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Gail McCormick (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

indeterminate growth

Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


an animal that mainly eats fish


an animal that mainly eats plankton


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2011. "Morone mississippiensis" (On-line). The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web Site. Accessed April 01, 2011 at

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2009. "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)" (On-line). Texas Parks and Wildlife. Accessed July 17, 2011 at

Bosworth, B., G. Libey, D. Notter. 1998. Relationships Among Total Weight, Body Shape, Visceral Components, and Fillet Traits in Palmetto Bass (Striped Bass Female Morone saxatilis × White Bass Male M. chrysops) and Paradise Bass (Striped Bass Female M. saxatilis × Yellow Bass Male M. mississippiensis). Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 29: 40-50.

Burnham, C. 1910. Notes on the yellow bass. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 39: 103-108.

Carlander, K. 1997. Handbook of Freshwater Fishery Biology. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

Collier, J. 1959. Changes in fish populations and food habits of yellow bass in North Twin Lake, 1956-1958. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 66: 518-522.

Darnell, R. 1961. Trophic Spectrum of an Estuarine Community, Based on Studies of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. Ecology, 42: 553-568.

Froese, R. 2010. "Morone mississippiensis" (On-line). FishBase. Accessed July 18, 2011 at

Goldstein, R., T. Simon. 1999. Toward a united definition of guild structure for feeding ecology of North American freshwater fishes. Pp. 123-202 in T Simon, ed. Assessing the Sustainability and Biological Integrity of Water Resources Using Fish Communities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Hassan-Williams, C., T. Bonner. 2007. "Morone mississippiensis" (On-line). Texas Freshwater Fishes. Accessed July 18, 2011 at

Hoffman, G. 1999. Parasites of North American Freshwater Fishes. Ithaca, New York, USA: Cornell University Press.

Kraus, R. 1963. Food habits of the yellow bass, Roccus mississippiensis, Clear Lake, Iowa, summer 1962. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 70: 209-215.

Lee, D., C. Gilbert, C. Hocutt, R. Jenkins, D. McAllister, J. Stauffer. 1980. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State Museum of Natural History.

Martens, A. 2006. "Morone americana" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 17, 2011 at

Morgan, T. 2006. "Morone chrysops" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 17, 2011 at

Page, L., B. Burr. 2011. Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Pfleiger, W. 1997. The Fishes of Missouri. Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Department of Conservation.

Schoffman, R. 1958. Age and rate of growth of the yellow bass in Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, for 1955 and 1957. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science, 33: 101-105.

Van Den Avyle, M., B. Higginbotham, B. James, F. Bulow. 1983. Habitat Preferences and Food Habits of Young-of-the-Year Striped Bass, White Bass, and Yellow Bass in Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 3: 163-170.

Welker, B. 1963. Summer food habits of yellow bass and black bullheads in Clear Lake. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 69: 286-295.