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A Fisherman’s Guide to Yellow Bass

The yellow bass is often not as sought after as its relatives, the white or the striped bass in the same family due to its smaller size.

a yellow bass caught on a fishing line

But that does not stop anglers from catching and eating this common fish.  

Species Description 

Also known as the Morone mississippiensis, this deep-bodied fish belongs to the Moronidae family.

Anglers can find yellow bass and other perciform fish in the eastern coastal regions of North America, Europe, and North Africa.

They can grow to over 12 inches long, and although they can be as large as two pounds or more, they are typically 8 to 10 inches and around one pound. 

How to Identify 

They are identifiable by the five to seven dark stripes along the sides of its body, with the bottom stripes having a broken pattern above the anal fin.

The color in the rear of the fish is a dark olive green while the abdomen and sides lighten to a silver-yellow colored hue. 

Another way to distinguish this species from other fish in the Moronidae family is by the nine or ten anal rays and the absence of a tooth patch on its tongue. Its dorsal fins are not entirely separate like other bass species. 


Although the history of origin for the yellow bass is unknown in many current active areas, there is speculation about this fish’s transportation from the Mississippi River.

Over time, it has relocated to numerous man-made lakes and other locations from the Mississippi River. 

World Record

Traditionally smaller than other bass fish, the yellow bass can range in size, maxing out approximately 13 inches in length and weighing up to two pounds.

The world record for the largest yellow bass ever caught comes from Duck River in Waverly, Tennessee. The record-breaking catch happened in 1998.

Life Cycle

On average, yellow bass live to a ripe age of approximately six to seven years old. Their life cycle resembles that of their genetic relative, the white bass.

Yellow bass will reach their reproductive maturity between two and four years old, depending on their location. 

In the late spring, the females make their way into more shallow waters of a tributary stream.

An increase in water temperature will trigger the spawning process of a female. She will lie on her side to expose the eggs for fertilization from a male.

The female releases eggs in multiple spawning events, where numerous males fertilize the eggs each time from above. 

These eggs adhere to the environment where they are released and will hatch between four to six days after fertilization.

The larvae quickly grow in size and school together as they mature to avoid predators. Their size will average around 20 centimeters by the time they reach the end of their first year. 


The yellow bass prefers a somewhat clear water source with low turbidity and dense vegetation.

You can find more schools in moderate to larger rivers and streams and backwater areas from reservoirs and rivers. 


The yellow bass diet consists of small crustaceans like crayfish, insects, other small fish, and even its own larvae. 


Predators of the yellow bass are not uncommon in the early stages of life, but the risk tends to decrease as they grow in size.

The adults will eat its larvae, as well as other larger fish species that are in its typical habitats. As the smaller bass of the Moronidae family, they are at risk to other larger species.  

How to Catch 

Anglers will be successful in catching this smaller bass species by using spinners, live minnows or worms, crankbaits, crappie jigs, or spoons. 

Where to Catch 

Places like the Mississippi River, the Tennessee River, and the Trinity River are known for large schools for yellow bass.

They prefer shallow depths during the spawning season and branch off these primary water sources into the surrounding lakes and tributary areas in late spring.

How to Eat 

When dining on yellow bass, you will find the meat white and flaky, without any red streaks.

For optimal taste, you should remove the red bloodline meat along the lateral line. Yellow bass can be filleted and fried or grilled, much like other larger fish species. 

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