Although yellow bass are sometimes confused with white bass or young striped bass, the eyes and belly may take on a distinctly yellowish color. Black longitudinal stripes occur as continuous lines along the back, but the lower three or four along the sides and venter are broken. The lateral line is complete with 50 to 55 scales. Unlike other bass, its tongue is toothless. The species name "mississippiensis" refers to the Mississippi River, where it was first described and is still most commonly found. They tend to swim in schools.
Yellow bass spawn over gravel bars in late April to June, moving into tributary streams and spawning over rock reefs and/or gravel bars in lakes. Females may lay more than 500,000 eggs that are left uncared for, capable of mating with other bass species to form hybrids, with only a fraction surviving. The growth rate of yellow bass is slow and they are generally small. Their life span is six to seven years. Bass feed on zooplankton, insect larvae, aquatic insects and small fish. Recommended artificial lures when fishing for yellow bass are spoons and spinners. Live bait choices for this bass are small minnows such as silversides and threadfin shad.
Yellow bass prefer clear rivers and lakes. They can be found near riprap on shorelines, rocky points and drop-offs. In rivers, they are found where streams enter or where bridge pilings disrupt current flow, above wing dams, or downstream from a lock and dam.
Although native populations do exist in areas of Oklahoma, Texas, and Mississippi, the species was primarily restricted to the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana. Introduced populations occur as far west as Arizona, as far north as Wisconsin and Iowa, and as far east as central Tennessee.