Are Striped Bass Native to Arkansas?

 

What determines if a fish is a native species?

Striped bass are naturally spawning in the Arkansas River and Red River.
When did they start:?
Are they considered Native to the Arkansas River, Red River and / or state of Arkansas?

A native species is an organism that is living in an area for entirely natural reasons with no human intervention involved.
This may be because the organism evolved in that environment or because it migrated by a variety of means.

Fishes: A native fish is any species of  fish that are found naturally among inland waterways.
Over time, a native species (plant or animal or marine) usually evolves to perfectly fit in the environment where it has settled
.

Striped bass with GCRL tracking tagThe Arkansas River flowed unimpeded to the Mississippi river for thousands of years and the Mississippi has the Gulf Strain of Striped Bass.  We also know the gulf was a natural environment for striped bass and that the University of Southern Mississippi has an ongoing Striped Bass Restoration Project.

The Welaka National Fish Hatchery Historical Range shows Striped Bass were once common in the rivers and estuarine environment of the Northern Gulf coast. They were found from Texas to the Suwannee river, Florida, and inland to St. Louis, Missouri on the Mississippi River. Historical reports indicate the fish were landed commercially from the late 1800's through the early 1960's.

Striped bass in Gulf drainages are considered a separate strain from populations along the Atlantic coast. Characteristics such as the number of lateral line scales and fin rays are used to distinguish Atlantic and Gulf striped bass populations. Striped bass are usually considered an anadromous cool water species, meaning that they migrate from saltwater to freshwater to spawn. 

 However, Gulf-strain striped bass are primarily riverine and typically do not make extensive coastal migrations, which are characteristic of striped bass populations along the Atlantic coast.
Seaward movements of striped bass in their southern range may be limited because coastal water temperatures of the Gulf region are much warmer than the upstream portions of large rivers.

Although it has been hypothesized that Gulf-strain striped bass are more tolerant of higher temperatures than Atlantic striped bass, Gulf-strain striped bass tend to avoid temperatures higher than 77° F. Thus, striped bass within the southern extent of their range would be more likely to find suitable temperatures within large rivers rather than in the coastal and estaurine waters of the Gulf.

Is the Striped Bass a native fish of Arkansas?
While it may be possible the Striper has been native to the Arkansas River for may years, the answer to the question is at this time, until more research is completed, is NO:

We know the Arkansas River has a naturally reproducing population of Striped Bass.
Striped Bass Research on the Arkansas River.

 
As more research is done we are looking for striper catch stories or pictures from the Arkansas River, Ouachita River or Red Rivers prior to the Lock and Dams.

The Striped Bass Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico, United States:
A Regional Management Plan 2006 Revision
published by the GULF STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION

TEXOMA STRIPED BASS MANAGEMENT/RESEARCH
Identified striped bass spawning sites on Red River

Contact
Ben Sanders arkansasstripers.com


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History of the Striped Bass.

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