Hybrid Bass Basics
The hybridization of these two species is generally considered a man-made invention and rarely occurs naturally. Hybrid bass are raised commercially for their meat, with the average weight of these commercial hybrids being between 1-2 lb.
Hybrid bass can grow to substantial sizes when left to develop in non-commercial environments. The current record hybrid bass was caught in Greers Ferry Lake, AR, and weighed in at 27.5 lb.
The hybrid bass fish does not generally arise under natural conditions and therefore has no IUCN status. The two species from which it is derived both have statuses of Least Concern.
White bass (left) and striped bass (right), the two parent species of the hybrid bass
Also Known As
The hybrid bass was initially known as Cherokee bass, named after the lake where it was first stocked in Tennessee. As it became more common for hybrid bass to be stocked across the US, they began to take on several different names.
Today they are commonly known as “Hybrids” in the American southeast and “Wipers” in the Midwest. Other small and scattered populations also know them as Whiterock bass.
From the white bass, hybrids inherit a pointed snout with two yellow eyes and sport greenish-silver bodies with stripes. Unlike white bass, however, the stripes on a hybrid are always broken. This break usually occurs at the pectoral fin or slightly behind it.
The dorsal fin is broken into two individual sections. The first fin is very spiny, with translucent skin stretched between the spines. The rear section of the dorsal fin is soft and lays completely flat when pressed. The color of the fin varies between jet black and light grey, depending on the water quality.
Hybrids can reach large sizes if left to develop in non-commercial settings. This potential for growth is inherited from the striped bass.
Notice the similar appearance to white bass, but with the broken lateral lines
A Note on Spawning
Hybrids are man-made creations and cannot reproduce on their own. They are bred by fish and game agencies and stocked in specific lakes across the US.
Most hybrids never undergo a spawning cycle. They do not migrate to spawning grounds or adjust their feeding habits to accommodate the production of eggs. However, each year a few individual fish will be tricked into trying to spawn with white bass.
How to Catch Hybrid Bass
Hybrid bass are located in large lakes and river estuaries across the US. They are sterile and so are restricted to areas that have active stocking programs. Most of these programs are in Texas, Florida, and Alabama, but many more are scattered over the American landscape.
Favorite Feeding Spots
Hybrid bass are drawn to underwater features that give access to deep, fast-flowing water. Hybrids are derived from schooling, cold-water fish that live on large schools of baitfish. As such, hybrid bass are found in areas with drop-offs, ledges, and small underwater inclines, as these areas attract baitfish that they can chase.
Many of the best hybrid feeding spots are below deceivingly flat, open water
Hybrid bass have a strong preference for water that is in the low 60°F region. This makes spring, without a doubt, the best season to catch them. During spring, hybrid bass are likely found in shallow water and can be caught using many different approaches.
In summer, hybrid bass roam across different water depths and areas, feeding on baitfish. When temperatures peak, however, hybrid bass seek refuge in deeper regions, where water temperatures are lower. Target those deeper regions of water if you’re specifically looking for hybrids in the height of summer.
As temperatures drop in the fall, hybrid bass return to the shallower water they were evicted from in the summer. Fall can be an ideal time to catch them, as these regions allow for more enjoyable fishing without the wind and waves typical of deep water.
Winter is considered the most challenging time of year to land hybrids. In cold conditions, hybrid bass become sluggish, making it hard to draw out a bite. In addition, they do not school up (as they do in spring and summer) and instead spread out across the water. During winter, only a few hybrids at a time will be caught from a single location, and the angler will eventually be forced to move on.
Hybrids are caught much like white bass in terms of lure selection. Jigging spoons or drifting live bait, typically minnows, are the two most effective approaches for hybrid bass.
Generally speaking, the spoon’s color should match the water conditions and clarity. Yellows and reds should be used when the water is murky and muddy. Always use bright blues and silvers when the water is clear.
Spoons are a classic and proven bait for hybrid bass
There are two highly popular methods for catching hybrid bass.
The first is deep jigging spoons. This involves dropping a large spoon overboard in an area where fish have been spotted. The spoon falls to the bottom of the lake, and upon reaching the bottom, it is picked up about six inches. From there, the spoon is jerked up and down, letting the natural action of the falling spoon attract hybrid bass.
The second is to use live minnows. Much like the first method, a drop shot rig is lowered to the bottom of the lake and fished a few inches up. When using live bait, there is no need to jig the minnow up and down. The minnow will attempt to swim away, which is all the invitation a hybrid needs.
Top Tips for Catching Hybrid Bass
Tip 1: Look for Humps
Hybrid bass, much like striped bass, gravitate to sudden rises in the lakebed. These areas act as ambush points and choke points that trap baitfish. Before launching the boat, locate and target these humps and other regions with steep underwater terrain.
Tip 2: Speak to Your Fellow Anglers
Hybrid bass fishing communities are far less competitive and much more collaborative than other sportfishing communities. Fellow hybrid anglers are often a trove of key information regarding local hybrid bass behavior. Engaging with boat launches, social media groups, bait shops, or online forums will give you a better understanding of how to target these beautiful fish in your area.