Hybrid Striped Bass Fishing

The Hybrid Striped Bass also known as the whiterock bass or the wiper; is a hybrid between the common striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and the white bass (M. chrysops). It is distinguishable from the striped bass thanks to the broken rather than solid horizontal stripes on its body. They hybrid striped bass is considered to be more suitable for culture in ponds in comparison to either parent species as they are more resilient to harsh temperatures as well as to low dissolved oxygen levels.

The wiper became part of the United States aquaculture in the last years of the 1980s. Most of the producers acquire the fish young (fingerlings or fry) and raise them in freshwater ponds. Nowadays in the United Sates, there are approximately 10 million pounds produced each year. The wiper is good not only as a game fish but also as a delicious food fish. Most of them are produced by fertilizing eggs from the white bass with the sperm coming from the striped bass.

Unlike some other hybrids, this type of hybrid striped bass is fertile. It is egg-laying like the parental species from which they come from and produces eggs and sperm in the spring when temperatures are between 10 – 20 degrees Celsius. Most of male mature at the age of one when they reach a size of 250mm long and about 500 grams. The female usually reaches maturity later, at the age of 2 or even 3 years old. The female produces an average of 160,000 eggs / pound of body weight and they spawn one time per year.

Temperatures between 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit are considered to be optimal for spawning hybrids and the parental species. The spawning usually occurs in the middle of May, depends however on the location. The season for spawning lasts usually between 4 to 5 weeks. Hybrid striped bass have been spotted participating in spawning acts in areas which contained clear shallow rocky shoals which were 1-3 feet deep. The female comes to the surface during the spawning act and normally, a few males accompany her. The released eggs are instantly fertilized by the males.

The hybrid striped bass is stocked in a wide variety of water types, meant for recreational purposes. They live very well in slow moving streams or large reservoirs and even lakes and ponds. They are seldom found in areas which contain dense growth of aquatic weeds and in extremely shallow waters. They are known for being active during periods of the day with low light, like dusk and dawn. When late winter occurs, they have the tendency to concentrate in deeper waters in the near vicinity of flowing streams and later on, in the spring, they sometimes undergo spawning migrations into upstream locations.

As far as their feeding is concerned, the hybrid striped bass is a predacious species throughout its entire life. The ones that measure less than 50mm basically eat crustacean zooplankton like copepods and cladocerans. Between 100-125mm long, they eat various types of insects and zooplankton. If appropriate sized fish are available in the area, the hybrid striped bass can switch to fish diet at a very small size.

This type of bass grows when the water temperatures are above 15 degrees Celsius but the optimal growing conditions occur when the water temperature is between 25 and 27 degrees. They are known to grow very fast in the first two years of their life. Growth to 275 to 375 mm in length and 225 to 350 grams in the first year and 450 to 550 mm in length and 1 to 1.5 kg in the second year is quite common. With increasing age, this rapid growth development declines rapidly. The largest hybrid striped bass ever caught weight about 10 kg but their usual weight is between 2 to 5 pounds. As far as their lifespan is concerned, they usually live between 5 to 6 years, similar to the sand bass rather than the striped bass which can live up to even 40 years.

Hybrid striped bass have gained wide acceptance as a sport fish, particularly in the large reservoirs of the southeastern areas of the United States, where it was stocked mainly because of the large forage base provided by gizzard shad and threadfin shad.