Hybrid stripers have long been a favorite of Texas anglers due to their fighting ability and size.
But their continuing population can’t be left to nature but to the hatcheries of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Hybrid stripers are a combination of a white bass and striped bass. But the hybrids caught in Texas lakes can be categorized even further.
Depending on the order of breeding, striper females and white bass males are called Palmetto bass. A male striper and a white bass female are called Sunshine bass. The only physical difference between the two is size; the Sunshine bass are smaller. A genetic test is used in hatcheries to accurately prove the fish’s breed.
Many theories about hybrids have been passed from angler to angler. One theory is that, like a mule, hybrids are unable to reproduce. The spawning cycle of hybrids have been studied since the 1970s and results show that both hybrid breeds are fertile and can produce eggs and milt. But further crossing with other bass have resulted in a higher degree of deformities.
TPWD’s Hatchery Program Director, Gerald Kurten, said that the department has studied the spawning of hybrids and although they don’t know the exact trigger — the deformities are linked to their genetics.
“The slightly different spawning requirements of each species keeps the species separate,” said Kurten. “The result of spawning hybrids with other hybrids, white bass, or stripers has produced deformed fry with very low survival.”
Kurten said there are low survival rates for other types of hybrids. In one experiment, the offspring of yellow bass and stripers produced a female hybrid that laid very poor eggs that didn’t get fertilized.
Currently, TPWD hatcheries breed Palmetto bass for stocking local lakes. They chose the Palmetto because female stripers are bigger and hold more eggs. The people who chose to harvest stripers in the their private ponds tend to choose Sunshine bass due to the ease acquiring female white bass.
Kurten and his staff still have unanswered questions about hybrids. But further research is currently being done to make sure hybrid populations stay strong and consistent.