Striped Bass In History

 

The History of the Striped Bass shows the fish is the aquatic equivalent of the American bald eagle. Striped Bass helped build this nation. They enabling the the Pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to survive their first winters and to grow their first crops by giving themselves up for food and fertilizer.

They astounded Captain John Smith, who wrote in his journal of the Atlantic coast in 1614.
"I myself at the turning of the tyde have seen such multitudes pass out of a pounce (a fish trap),
 that it seemed to me that one might go over their backs drishod".


 Smith also called the Striped Bass:

"a most sweet and wholesome fish as ever I did eat . . . altogether as good as our fresh Sammon....
Our Fishers take many hundreds together ... yea, their Netts ordinarily take more than they are able to hall to Land".

Quoted from D. S. Jordan and B. W. Evermann,
American Food and Game Fishes, Doubleday, Page, New York, 1903.

1634 William Wood, in his New England's Prospect, called the Striped Bass.
  "one of the best fishes in the Country . . . a delicate, fine, fat, faste fish.... The English at the top of an high water do crosse the creek with long seanes or bass nets which stop the fish; and the water ebbing from them, they are left on the dry grounds, sometimes two or three thousand at a set, which are salted up against winter, or distributed to such as have present occasion either to spend them in their homes or use them for their grounds."

By 1639, the state of Massachusetts, observing the fishery significantly depleted due to overfishing forbade the use of the fish as fertilizer. This bold first step led to the first environmental impact statement and the eventual passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969, the precursor to Magnuson-Stevens and regional fisheries legislation.

The Pilgrims also caught them with hook and line...

" the fisherman taking a great cod line to which he fasteneth a peece of lobster and threwes it into the sea.
The rockfish biting at it, he pulls her to him and knockes her on the head with a sticke."...
(Bigelow and Schroeder, Fishes of the Gulf of Maine)

Striped Bass were the subject of our first conservation and fishery management laws.

Massachusetts in 1639, forbade the use of this delicate, fine, fish for fertilizer, and in the sixties became the fulcrum behind the first environmental impact statement and passage of the National Environmental Policy Act.

In 1670, The Plymouth Colony started a free school with income from the striped bass fisheries, becoming the first public school in America.

Striped Bass were the subject of pioneering fish stocking efforts following settlers to the west coast In 1879 and again in 1881. Dr. Livingston Stone of the United States Fish Commission (a forerunner of U.S. Fish and Wildlife), at the urging of the California State Board of Fish Commissions, began transporting the bass from New Jersey to the San Francisco Bay. In milk cans and wooden barrels, first hand agitated and refreshed, later afforded a crude oxygenation system, the first stripers made their way to the west coast. The striper is now one of California’s top ranking sport fish. Found in relative abundance in the early 1900s, the fish numbered approximately three million adults in the early 1960s; by the early 1990s, the count was about 775 thousand, with 30% of those hatchery-reared. Still fished as far as the Columbia River in Washington State, the Sacramento Delta fishery, where the fish migrate bi-annually, remains troubled by Delta water diversions, pollution, illegal take, exotic aquatic organisms, and Bay-fill projects. Last-ditch efforts are being made to restore the western fisheries.

Striped bass were seined from the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers near Red Bank, New Jersey and transported by train in wooden barrels and milk cans across the continent to the San Francisco Bay. Still today this effort ranks as maybe the most successful Fish Stocking effort in the world.

Meet Dr. Livingston Stone Pioneer in Striped Bass Stocking.
Read More:
Early Striped Bass Stocking

Jumping ahead to 1941 when the dam on the 170,000 acre Santee-Cooper Reservoir was closed.

Striped Bass from the Atlantic were trapped on a Spawning run up the Cooper river.  Biologists were aware that striped bass were on a spawning run up into the Cooper River they just assumed that the stripers would die. However, it was discovered by line breaking tail spacking action after the war that the striped bass were flourishing and reproducing in the huge lake.

In 1954 forward thinking Arkansas fisheries Biologist brought Striped Bass to the Natural state. Stocking Striped Bass into Lake Ouachita and Lake Greeson.

In the 1960s and early 1970s,
Biologist in several states jumped on the bandwagon promoting the stocking of striped bass in large impoundments around the country and starting a new chapter in the amazing history of the striped bass that is still being written today.

 

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