The History of the Striped Bass indicates 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.
Jumping ahead to 1941 when the dam on the 170,000 acre Santee-Cooper Reservoir was
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
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.