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Parts of a Fish
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A look at the white bass shows that the body
is deep. The back is silvery green in colour, shading to silvery
white on the sides, and golden below. There are a number of
dusky. more or less interrupted, horizontal lines on the sides
of the body. The small, somewhat conical head is depressed over
the eye, which is tinted yellow or golden; hence, the specific
name, chrysops-gold eye, referring to the golden hue of the
iris. The careful observer will note the two prominent dorsal
fins on the arched back. The first or spinous dorsal fn is
distinctly separated from the second or soft dorsal. This serves
to distinguish the white bass from the members of the sunfish
family (Cenrrarchidae), e.g., rock bass, sunfish, smallmouth and
largemouth bass, crappies and bluegills in which the dorsal fins
are not separated. The jaws, tongue and certain other parts of
the mouth are supplied with numerous brush-like teeth.
The white bass frequents the larger rivers and lakes of
northwestern New York, southern Ontario and Michigan to
Minnesota, southward in the Mississippi Valley to Alabama and
Texas. Generally, it occurs in the Mississippi and Great Lakes
drainage with the exception of Lake Superior. In Ontario it
occurs in the
Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the Detroit
River. It also occurs in Lake
Nipissing, but it is generally rare north of the Great
Throughout its natural range, the white bass frequents clear,
cool water of moderate depth over rock reefs, sand bars and
submerged rock jetties. It shows some preference for running
water, below dams, locks, and the mouths of tributary streams.
It is reported to have increased greatly in
numbers, following the construction of a series of impoundments
on the Tennessee River.
Although it commonly frequents a clear, cool
habitat in the northern part of its range, it becomes more
numerous in warmer and somewhat turbid waters in the southern
part of its range.
The white bass is essentially a fish of larger
rivers and lakes. It travels in large schools near the surface
of the open waters in June, July and August, and has been taken
frequently on quiet shores or near the surface on the windward
side of the lake. lt shows semi migratory habits and enters
tributaries of lakes or tailwaters in large schools.
Normally, white bass have an annual
reproductive cycle and all healthy, sexually mature fish
reproduce at age group II; the males ripen in the fall and the
females at spawning time the following spring, usually in late
May or early June. Males are smaller than the females and
migrate to the spawning grounds first, where they remain until
the conditions of the environment cause the females to join
them. Recorded observations show that spawning takes place
during the day, near shore, in water three to six feet deep, on
gravel, sand, rubble or rock bottom. Spawning temperatures range
from 58°F. to 75°F. Because of the successful reproduction of
white bass in reservoirs. it would seem that spawning runs into
tributary streams are not always necessary.
The eggs and sperm are scattered
simultaneously over the spawning grounds near the surface or in
midwater where fertilization takes place as the eggs sink and
finally adhere to rocks on the bottom. The spawning period may
last five to ten days and the incubation period a few days.
White bass have a tremendous reproductive
capacity; the number of eggs per fish ranges from 241,000 to
933,000; the average is 565,000. A measure of the average
diameter of 100 eggs was found to be approximately 0.81 mm.
After spawning, the white bass return to deeper water.
Food and Growth
Young white bass feed on plankton, aquatic insects and crayfish.
Adults have been observed to feed extensively on the emerald
shiner in the spring and on gizzard shad in the fall. Fish
remains, noted in their diet, were those of small perch,
bluegill, crappie, black bullhead and game fish in small
numbers. Though fish seem to be preferred by adults, aquatic
insects, plankton and crayfish are also eaten in large amounts.
White bass grow rapidly the first year,
attaining a length of four to live inches by autumn; the second
year, seven to eight inches; and the third year, eleven to
thirteen inches. Their life span is short, few survive beyond
the fourth or fifth year.