Post date: Monday, September 16, 2013 - 12:07
Updated date: 1/10/17
Yellow Bass Morone mississippiensis


Smallest of the Temperate Basses, the yellow bass is a spunky little scrapper that lives in the Mississippi River drainage basin. It's a fast-moving predator that likes to gulp down insects and small baitfishes while dashing about in large schools. Even more well-regarded as a food fish than the white bass, the yellow is abundant, delicious, and (sometimes) very easy to catch.


Other namesYellow bass are also known as Yellow (Yeller) Bellies, Sandies, Sand Bass, Barfish, and Streakers.




The yellow bass is a short, slab-sided fish with an arched back and two dorsal fins, the first of which is spiny. They may show lemon-yellow coloration on the sides, but always have some yellow on the belly. 6-9 dark black horizontal stripes extend down its sides. The stripes on the lower rear sides of its body are distinctly broken above the front of the anal fin, which makes them easy to distinguish from the white bass. Yellow Bass can reach 18 inches in length and three pounds in weight, although they rarely exceed ten inches and a pound. Yellow bass have a distinct tendency to migrate into shallow waters for a short period in the spring and the fall; the remainder of the time they roam the deeper waters of lakes and impoundments or school up on current breaks in large rivers. 





Yellow Bass live in large rivers, large lakes, and impoundments. Unique among the temperate basses, they can spawn successfully even with no access to moving water, scattering their eggs over sand and gravel. Yellows are schooling fish that tend to roam the open waters of their home, attacking whatever small prey they come across. The are found from New Orleans to extreme southern Minnesota - although a pair of determined fisheries biologists failed to capture any at all after three years of searching for them in the Minnesota waters of the Mississippi River. They reproduce quickly and can dominate any isolated lake they are introduced into. In Iowa they are extremely abundant in Hartwick Lake on the Maquoketa River, and a thriving fishery exists in Clear Lake, which is probably the northernmost Yellow Bass Factory in the nation. They are also extremely abundant in some Missouri Lakes (tbd).






When schooling in open water in the summertime, these high-energy fish are willing biters that will aggressively chase down and repeatedly strike small baits and lures. More insectivorous than white bass, yellows will key in on insect hatches - and in these situations, a flyrod with a simple foam imitation of the natural will yield heavy catches of this species. Spinning lures (especially small, soft plastic or marabou crappie jigs) can be deadly, especially in deeper water. They also strike small spoons and spinners with reckless abandon. Pounding the bottom while drifting with a vertically presented jigging spoon is a good way to fill up the boat with yellows. However, if they live far enough north to become ice-fishing targets, hardy winter anglers find them quite finicky, staring down the bait and often telegraphing their strikes with only a slight slackening of the line. Small ice flies or small jigging spoons, tipped with maggots, are the ticket when targeting yellows through the ice.

Range Map

Photo Credits:

AaronBye, IsaacsFishingCorner

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