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Morone mississippiensis

What do they look like?

Yellow bass are yellowish-silver with 7 black or brown stripes on the top and middle of their body that run from their head to tail. The stripes lower on their bodies are broken or jagged in the middle. Their backs are olive green or olive gray, and they are white or yellow underneath. Some of their fins are dark or dusky and others are clear or white. They have yellow eyes, and no teeth or tongue. Their bodies are thin from side to side but wide from top to bottom. (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

Where do they live?

Yellow bass live in waters that drain into Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basins from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico. They are native to parts of Oklahoma and Texas, and are found east through the middle of Tennessee. Yellow bass have been introduced in other places like Arizona. (Lee, et al., 1980; Page and Burr, 2011; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Yellow bass live in quiet pools, dams, or slow-moving waters that are part of streams, lakes, and man-made water reservoirs. They prefer clear water with few plants but lots of carp. They live on or close to the bottom of lakes and rivers. (Carlander, 1997; Froese, 2010; Lee, et al., 1980; Page and Burr, 2011)

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

How do they grow?

Eggs take 4 to 6 days to hatch after they are fertilized. They hatch at 21°C. Within 4 days, the young fish absorb their yolk sacs. They gather in groups called schools, and grow quickly. In a lake in Tennessee, they got to be almost 20 cm long in the first year. (Burnham, 1910; Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Pfleiger, 1997; Schoffman, 1958)

How do they reproduce?

Yellow bass are able to release and fertilize eggs when they are 2 to 4 years old, depending on where they live. Males often mature when they are 2 to 3 years old, and females usually mature when they are 3 to 4 years old. Females have more than one set of eggs in the same season. Yellow bass scatter their eggs in late April to early June after the water gets to be 14.5°C to 26°C. Females release groups of eggs into the water which males fertilize. This process is called spawning. (Burnham, 1910; Carlander, 1997; Pfleiger, 1997)

Yellow bass spawn once per year in streams or lakes between late April and early June. Females lay on their right sides over gravel or rocks that are from 0.6 to 0.9 m deep and release their eggs. Males swim nearby and fertilize the eggs as they are released. (Bosworth, et al., 1998; Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Pfleiger, 1997)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    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

Yellow bass eggs stick to plants or rocks. Parents don't care for the eggs after they are released and fertilized. (Carlander, 1997; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; "Morone mississippiensis", 2011)

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

How long do they live?

Yellow bass can live for up to 7 years in the wild. (Froese, 2010)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    7 (high) years

How do they behave?

Yellow bass form groups called schools. They feed near the surface or at middle depths in lakes and rivers. They might move from lakes or larger parts of rivers into smaller, shallower streams in order to release and fertilize their eggs. They feed at dusk and dawn. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; Lee, et al., 1980)

Home Range

Scientists don't know the size or characteristics of the home range of yellow bass. (Lee, et al., 1980; Morgan, 2006)

How do they communicate with each other?

Bass use sight, hearing, chemical signals to understand their environment. Their main sense organ is their lateral line, which runs from their head to tail and also helps them sense vibrations..

What do they eat?

Yellow bass eat mainly small animals without vertebrae that they find near the surface of the water or in middle depths. Young yellow bass usually eat zooplankton, small crustaceans, and insects. The size of prey they can eat usually gets bigger as yellow bass grow. Adult yellow bass eat fish, including smaller yellow bass. Yellow bass hunt at dusk and at dawn. (Collier, 1959; Darnell, 1961; Goldstein and Simon, 1999; Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007)

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

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Possible predators of yellow bass are white bass, striped bass, walleye, bluefish, weakfish, white perch, and bluegill. These kinds of fish eat other bass fishes in the same genus. (Martens, 2006; Morgan, 2006)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Yellow bass are both predators and prey in their ecosystem and also get infected with many parasites. They get infected by flatworms or flukes called Onchocleidus interruptus, Allacanthochasmus artus, Allacanthochasmus varius, Azygia angusticauda, Clinostomum complanatum, Diplostomulum, Neochasmus umbellus, Posthodiplostomum minimum, and Tetracotyle. They get roundworms called Camallanus oxycephalus, Camallanus, Contracaecum spiculigerum, Spinitectus gracilis, and Leptorhynchoides thecatus. They get tapeworms called Proteocephalus ambloplitis, Proteocephalus, and Trypanorhyncha. They also get thorny-headed worms and gill lice. (Hoffman, 1999)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

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

How do they interact with us?

Yellow bass have been hunted by humans for entertainment and food since the 1800's. (Hassan-Williams and Bonner, 2007; "Yellow Bass (Morone mississippiensis)", 2009)

Are they endangered?

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.


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.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Walberg, E. and J. Wright 2012. "Morone mississippiensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 23, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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