In the world of angling, proper identification of fish species is not just a matter of knowledge; it’s often a legal requirement. One family that can pose a challenge for anglers to differentiate is the Moronidae family, home to species like white bass, striped bass (commonly known as stripers), and hybrid striped bass. These fish share similarities, but understanding their differences is crucial for adhering to regulations and enjoying a successful day on the water. Don’t forget to check our white bass lure selection guide, to increase your changes catch more white bass.
Hybrid Striped Bass
Let’s begin with hybrid striped bass, a fascinating product of human intervention in nature’s course. These hybrids are the result of crossbreeding between separate species within the temperate bass family, Moronidae. While nature has its creations, fisheries biologists have been known to experiment, and these hybrids are a testament to that curiosity.
The Moronidae family is relatively small, consisting of just four primary members: white perch, yellow bass, white bass, and striped bass. Although white perch and yellow bass are not commonly confused with the others, it’s the latter two, white bass and stripers, that often lead to angler uncertainty.
Yellow bass, the smallest among their Moronidae relatives, boast distinctive features that set them apart. Typically weighing less than one pound, these silvery, bass-like fish inhabit brackish or tidally influenced fresh waters from South Carolina to Canada. However, they are not found in the state of Louisiana.
Key characteristics of yellow bass include a strong break in the black stripes on each side of the fish, making them relatively easy to distinguish from their larger relatives. Like their white bass cousins, yellow bass are found statewide in various fresh waters.
White bass, in contrast, are larger in size compared to yellow bass. The world record for white bass, an impressive 6.8 pounds, was landed right here in Louisiana by Corey Crochet in 2000. Their geographical distribution in Louisiana makes them a more familiar sight to local anglers.
White bass can be recognized by their regular, unbroken black stripes on the sides of their bodies. However, it’s important to note that only one stripe—the center one—extends all the way to the base of the tail, setting them apart from stripers and hybrids. We should also mention that white bass is more active at night.
Striped bass, often referred to as stripers, are the giants of the Moronidae family, with the world record weighing an astounding 81 pounds and 14 ounces. Historically, striped bass in Louisiana were primarily found in rivers east of the Mississippi River that drained into Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne.
Identifying stripers is relatively straightforward. They exhibit strong, unbroken black stripes extending the entire length of their bodies. In cross-section, their body shape is distinctly round.
Identifying the Species
Accurate species identification is crucial due to varying bag limits for each of these Moronidae members. Stripers are relatively easy to identify, thanks to their unbroken black stripes and round body shape.
However, distinguishing between white bass and hybrid striped bass can be a bit more challenging. White bass and hybrids share similar characteristics, such as their stripe patterns. White bass have regular, unbroken stripes, but only the central stripe extends to the tail base. There is also a significant size difference between white bass and other bass species.
In hybrids, several black stripes reach the tail base, with some appearing interrupted or wavy. One key feature to separate hybrid striped bass from white bass is the rough tooth patches on the back of their tongues. White bass have a single patch of teeth, while hybrid stripers and stripers feature two distinct patches.
Understanding and accurately identifying white bass, stripers, and hybrid striped bass are essential skills for anglers. This knowledge not only ensures compliance with fishing regulations but also enhances the overall fishing experience. So, the next time you’re on the water and encounter these members of the Moronidae family, you’ll be