What is a Yellow Bass?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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A yellow bass is a relatively small fish that is native to the Mississippi River in the United States. Its scientific name is Morone mississippiensis, which refers to its origin, and its common name is derived from the typical yellow tint of its belly. This freshwater fish can mate with other bass and is often confused with them too due to their similar appearances. Their diet usually includes smaller fish, but they will also consume insects when given the chance. Unlike other species of bass, yellow bass travel in schools, meaning they swim about in groups.

This fish is very similar in appearance to other bass; it is the same shape, and it is also striped. The keen observer will notice several differences, however. For example, the bottommost stripes of the fish are always broken. Yellow bass also tend to have a yellow belly, but this is not always the case. Normally, this type of bass is about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long and weighs anywhere from 4 ounces to 2 pounds (113 grams to 0.9 kg). It is capable of living up to seven years if healthy and not caught by local fishermen.


Yellow bass were originally found in the Mississippi River; hence its scientific name. It has since been introduced to other bodies of fresh water in the United States. In general, though, the fish are located in the middle-eastern and southern regions of the country. It is especially abundant in southern regions, such as Texas and Alabama. Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Arizona also have populations of yellow fish, but they are generally considered vulnerable or even exotic.

Normally, the yellow bass mating season begins in March and ends when the water starts to warm in May. Yellow fish prefer to lay their eggs in rocky places in freshwater. Once the eggs are fertilized, they drop from the female fish and stick to the gravel below before hatching less than one week later. Occasionally, yellow bass mate with white bass, and hybrid fish are born.

The firm flaky texture of cooked yellow bass meat is a favorite among some Americans, so catching this fish is sometimes a hobby. Minnows and earthworms are some forms of live bait known to attract this fish. When using fake bait, spinners, jugs, and spoons are typically used. Yellow fish are normally caught for food or fun, but rarely as trophy fish due to their small size.


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