Species Profile: Morone chrysops x Morone saxatilis – Hybrid Striped Bass

Scientific Name: Morone saxatilis (Striped Bass) x Morone chrysops (White Bass)

Common Name(s): Hybrid Striped Bass, Wiper, Whiterock Bass, Palmetto Bass, Sunshine Bass, or Cherokee Bass

Identification: The hybrid striped bass Morone saxatilis x Morone chrysops can be distinguished from the white bass by the incomplete/broken horizontal bars on the body. Hybrid striped bass have very distinct lines down the length of their body, with some breaking present. White bass have fainter lines down their body and are unbroken. You can also tell these fish apart by their teeth as white bass have a single patch of teeth in the center of their tongue, while striped bass and hybrid striped bass have two medial tooth patches on the back of their tongues. The other parent species, striped bass, also have unbroken lines down the sides, with the top few lines having offset segments near the head. In terms of body shape, white bass are short from head to tail and deep from back to belly, while the striped bass is long from head to tail. The hybrid striped bass is in-between the body shape of the parent species. Hybrid striped bass are commonly 2-10 lbs., although they can reach 20 lbs. The back and top of their sides are greenish-dark silver fading to silver down the sides and white on the belly; they have two fins on their back with sharp spines in the front fin. The current state record is 27 lbs. 5 oz. (Greers Ferry Lake).

 

 

Range: Morone chrysops x Morone saxatilis is an artificial hybrid, so it is not native anywhere per se, although it does occur naturally in Arkansas. Hybrid striped bass have been stocked in many rivers and reservoirs all over the United States. Populations are maintained through stocking programs, and about 10 million lbs. are produced every year in the United States.

Ecology: Hybrid striped bass have been widely raised since the late 1980’s and can be made in two ways. Some are produced by fertilizing eggs from a white bass with sperm from a striped bass, called a “sunshine bass” or “Cherokee bass.” Others are produced by fertilizing eggs from a striped bass with sperm from a white bass, called a “palmetto bass.” The most common hybridization is the female striped bass with the male white bass (“palmetto bass”) because female striped bass produce a high number of eggs.

Spawning occurs artificially in hatcheries where the female striped bass is injected with a hormone that stimulates her to lay eggs. Usually there are several male white bass in the tank when spawning occurs.  After the eggs are fertilized by the males, the adult fish are removed, and the eggs are kept in artificial current around 48 hours until they hatch. Natural hybridization can occur in the wild, although it is mainly the opposite cross (male striped bass with female white bass) because white bass eggs do not require any flotation to survive and hatch. The eggs of white bass normally settle to the bottom of a waterbody and become attached to substrate. If the eggs of a striped bass sink to the bottom, they become silted over and die. Therefore, white bass eggs normally hatch easier in the wild than those of striped bass.

The hybrid striped bass will consume crayfish but are mainly piscivorous preferring a diet of shad and other open water forage fish species.

Hybrid striped bass are easier to catch and grow faster than striped bass. They are known for their fight, making them popular with anglers. They are more aggressive than both the striped bass and white bass, making them easier to catch for anglers who use artificial bait. Hybrid striped bass serve as popular food; therefore, they support both recreational and commercial fisheries.

Special Notes: Here in Bella Vista, hybrid striped bass are normally stocked every other year (most recently in September 2018) in Lakes Ann, Windsor, and Lomond.  These popular sport fish can easily be caught with a wide array of lures and baits. Some popular lures include casting spoons and inline spinners. The most likely place to find them is when fishing off shore as they are usually chasing schooling minnows and shad.