White Bass

What is a White Bass?

At around 12-15 inches in length, the White Bass is a freshwater fish and part of the bass or Moronidae family. Also known as the Silver Bass, the Sand Bass, or by its scientific name, Morone Chrysops the White Bass can be identified by the dark stripes running down its sides, its rough, large scales, and its two dorsal fins. Other notable features include its pale green/white/silver color, as well as a distinctive patch of teeth close to the tongue. 

Similar in look to the Striped Bass, the two can be told apart because the White Bass has a rounder body, a single tooth patch, and a fainter stripe with only one reaching to its tail. 

White Bass are carnivorous fish and enjoy a diet of copepods, both calanoid and cyclopoid ( small often translucent crustation). They also like Daphnia or Water Fleas – small planktonic crustaceans, as well as Leptodora (predatory Water Fleas). White Bass can reach sizes of around 18 inches and tend to weigh around 1-2 pounds, although heavier fish have been caught. 

Where to Fish for White Bass?

The best place to fish for White Bass depends on the season, although as open water fish they will always stay close to deep concentrations of freshwater such as lakes. The White Bass is fish that is always swimming, rarely holding still, and can, in the right conditions, 

In the summer, White Bass can often be found catching baitfish at the surface of the water. Indeed, there is an entire practice of fishing dedicated to catching fish that does this – jump fishing and as the more experienced anglers among you will know it can be a whole lot of fun to fish in this way. 

However, as summer moves into fall, the fish will begin moving into their winter spots deeper in the lake, so the opportunity for jump fishing will decline. All is not lost in the colder months, however, as it is possible to track White Bass down by using solar and fishing vertically. Although, be warned they do tend to nestle in under schools of baitfish so they can be tricky to spot. 

As the temperature starts to warm and winter transforms into spring, White Bass can be found in more shallow waters. This is because they begin to move from their lakes into rivers and even creeks for spawning. Of course, this is an ideal time to go White Bass fishing, as they will be easier to spot and catch during this time. 

Where to Find White Bass in Lakes?

While the White Bass can be found in lakes across Northern America, some particular spots are popular with anglers for this specific breed. 

The first of these is Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri. Not the most picturesque of lakes, the White Bass fishing here is supreme both summer and winter. However, this location shines when it comes to the spring spawning season, as there are many rivers and creeks that the bass makes use of including Turkey Creek, Linn Creek, and the Osage River. Indeed, the latter location is a particular favorite with anglers as they channel the fish into a small area making them both easier to spot and catch. 

Then there is Lake Guntersville in Alabama, located between Bridgeport and Guntersville. The largest of the lakes in Alabama, this 108 square miles stretch of water is great for fishing White Bass all year round. 

Another great choice for White Bass fishing is Millwood Lake, Little River County, southwestern Arkansas. In addition to White Bass, you can find Spotted, Largemouth, and Striped bass in this lake. Known as one of the easiest locations for catching bass because of its flooded waterways, Millwood Lake is also a great year-round option. 

 In Illinois, there is Newton Lake which serves as a cooling reservoir for the Dynegy power plant and is also known for its Largemouth as well as White Bass. Newton Lake located in Jasper County, central Illinois isn’t the best for all-year-round fishing though. Instead, it’s best to head there in spring for spawning. 

 Last, of all, there is West Okoboji Lake situated in Dickinson County, Northwest Iowa. There you will find White Bass along with Small and Largemouth varieties. Extending from the Minnesota border, West Okoboji is part of a glacier-carved chain of lakes with crystal clear waters and plenty of weeds, and rock piles for the bass to enjoy. 

Fun Facts 

  • Female White Bass are usually larger than the males 
  • The White Bass’s belly is always lighter than its back
  • Striped Bass and White Bass are related and some people meld the two names together to call them “Wipers”
  •  On the gill cover of each White Bass, you will find a single sharp point.
  •  The White Bass has a homocercal tail – This means their caudal fin is of equal size and shape on both sides.
  • The White Bass is Oklahoma’s state fish.
  •  The White Bass is often introduced into lakes to predate on nuisance fish
  •  The female White Bass can lay up to 930,000 eggs per spawning season
  • The largest White Bass ever caught was 6 pounds 13 ounces (1989 in Orange Lake, Orange, Virginia, and in 2010 in Amite River, Louisiana.)

Top White Bass Fishing Lures & Tips 

Just as different locations work best in different seasons for White Bass fishing, matching your lures and bait to the season will help you have more success. 

For example, in the summer, the White Bass will be closer to their surface, therefore any bait that sits on the top of the water is your best bet. Although, jigs, small spoons, and spinners work well too. 

However, as the temperature gets cooler, and the White Bass inhabits deeper areas, spoons jigged near to the bottom of the lake work best for White Bass. 

Then, when it comes to spring, the bass will be heading upriver to spawn, in this case trolling with small spinners and spoons can be most successful. Although, when fishing at night be sure to hang a lantern over the side of your boat, as this will attract baitfish, which will, in turn, encourage the White Bass. 

Type of tackle to use 

 A typical White Bass will weigh in the 1-2 pound range, which means light tackle and lines are best. Choose a 6-8 pound line, and use a light spin cat or spinning tackle for the best results. 

Can you eat White Bass? 

Whether you throw your catch back into the lake or river or take it home to be cooked will largely depend on whether you enjoy the fishy taste that the White Bass has. Indeed, some people describe this fish as overpowering in its taste, but there are some ways to reduce this fishy flavor and ensure that you are left with the more delicious parts of the White Bass. 

The first, and most effective of these is to fillet it correctly. This means removing the inner rib meat which is a deep red and also has the strongest flavor of fish. You will then be left with the white meat on the belly, back and tail of the fish which both tastes better and has a flakier, meatier consistency – much like black cod or sea bass. 

Of course, by filleting the fish in this way you will notice that there is only a small amount of meat to use. This means waiting until you have a catch of 2-3 per person before you begin preparing and cooking is the best approach. 

Another option that can help reduce this fishy flavor is to soak this fish. Choose saltwater, buttermilk, or even Sprite for this purpose. Although, it is worth noting that this should never be done for more than 2 hours, as it can ruin the texture of this fish. 

Other methods such as removing the mud vein or bleeding the fish aren’t nearly as effective for reducing this taste, so it is best to not waste time on them. 

How to cook White Bass

When it comes to cooking your catch of White Bass, there are several options to consider. The first is grilling, and White Bass can be deliciously cooked in this way, although it’s best to leave the skin on as this will make it more stable while being cooked and add flavor and oil to the finished product. Be sure to season the White Bass well before and as it cooks too with both salt and pepper. 

You may also be wondering whether White Bass is a good fish to smoke? Well, the answer seems to be no to this one. While you can of course smoke White Bass if you choose, experienced anglers suggest that the strong flavor of the fish combined with the smoking process does not produce the best results. 

Last, of all, a great way to cook White Bass is to pan-fry it in oil with breadcrumbs. For maximum success remove the skin before coating in breadcrumbs and season well. Then bring a deep pan of peanut oil up to heat and fry until crispy and golden brown. Enjoy with a homemade tartar sauce complete with cornichons and capers.