Striped Bass

Striped Bass (Morone - saxatilis) get their name from the seven or eight dark continuous stripes along the side of its body. Also known as Stripers and Rockfish.

Striped Bass are the largest member of the sea bass family, often called "temperate" or "true" bass to distinguish it from species such as largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass which are actually members of the sunfish family Centrarchidae. Striped bass can grow as long as 60 inches.
Like other true bass, the dorsal (top) fin is separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions. Striped bass are silvery, shading to olive-green on the back and white on the belly, with seven or eight uninterrupted horizontal stripes on each side of the body with two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue and two sharp points on each gill cover.

Former President of the United States George W. Bush, in Executive Order 13449 of October 20, 2007, designated the Striped Bass as a protected game fish. Further, he directed executive agencies to use existing legal authorities, to the extent possible, to prohibit the sale of Striped Bass caught in Federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

There is a magical world surrounding the history of the striped bass. Striped Bass have been one of the most sought after commercial and recreational fish since colonial times.

Striped BassStriped Bass Fishing is the fastest growing segment in fresh water sport fishing.

  • Distribution
    • Striped bass are know to be native to the Atlantic coastline of North America from the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of Mexico to approximately Louisiana. They are anadromous fish that migrate between fresh and salt water.

      Recently biologists believe that striped bass stayed in rivers (riverene) for long periods of time, some not returning to sea unless temperature changes forced migration.
      RE: Campbell, Striped White & Hybrid Bass in South Carolina.

      Striped bass have been introduced to the Pacific Coast of North America and into many of the large reservoir impoundments across the United States by state game and fish commissions for the purposes of recreational fishing and as a predator to control populations of gizzard shad.
Striped Bass fisheries have been developed in 31 states by stocking the fish into lakes and reservoirs.
  • Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Navajo Nation, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.

    Striped Bass have been Introduced to: 
    Br. Columbia - Canada ,  Ecuador,  Iran, Mexico,  Russian Fed, South Africa
    Native to: Can Maritims,  Quebec - Canada

Some of the more popular Lakes are:

  • Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico.
    Lake Ouachita, Lake Norfork, Beaver,and Lake Hamilton in Arkansas.
    Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant, and Lake Havasu in Arizona.
    Castaic Lake, Lake George in Florida.
    Pyramid Lake, Silverwood Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, East Fork State Park Lake near Cincinnati
    Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama.
    Lake Cumberland, and Lake Murray in California.
    Lake Lanier in Georgia.
    Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee.
    Lake Mead, Nevada.
    Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Whitney, Possum Kingdom Lake, and Lake Buchanan in Texas.
    Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania.
    Virginia Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

Striped bass also have been introduced into waters in Ecuador, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey primarily for sport fishing and aquaculture.

  • Hybrids with other bass
    • Female Striped bass have been crossed with Male white bass to produce the hybrid striped bass also known as wipers.
      Being more Dissolved oxygen and water temperature tolerant these hybrids have been stocked in many freshwater lakes across the U.S.
  • Land locked striped bass
    • Striped bass are an anadromous fish and their spawning ritual of traveling up rivers to spawn led some of them to become landlocked during lake dam constructions.
      It is believed that the first area they became landlocked was in the Santee-Cooper river during the construction of the two dams that impounded Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, and because of this belief the state game fish of South Carolina is the striped bass.

      Recently biologists believe that striped bass stayed in rivers for long periods of time, some not returning to sea unless temperature changes forced migration.
      Once fishermen and biologists caught on to rising striped bass populations, many state natural resources departments started stocking striped bass in local lakes.
      Striped bass still continue the natural spawn run in freshwater lakes, traveling up river and blocked at the next dam, which is why they are landlocked.
      Landlocked stripers have a hard time reproducing naturally, and one of the few and most successful rivers they have been documented reproducing successfully is the Coosa River in Alabama and Georgia
  • Management
    • The Striped bass population declined to less than 5 million by 1982, but efforts by fishermen and management programs to rebuild the stock proved successful, and in 2007, there were nearly 56 million fish, including all ages. Recreational anglers and commercial fisherman caught an unprecedented 3.8 million fish in 2006. The management of the species includes size limits, commercial quotas, and biological reference points for the health of the species. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission states that Striped Bass are "Not overfished and overfishing is not occurring

Everyday anglers discover the thrill of the challenging experience of Deep Sea Style fishing in freshwater reservoirs and lakes in their home state. No other Bass in Fresh Water can grow to exceed 60 pounds and offer the adrenaline rush that comes when one of these striped torpedoes hits your bait and takes off like its tied to back of your Chevy truck.

Striped Bass

Trophy Striped Bass are known for their size and fighting ability they've been known to reach 100 pounds and nearly five feet in length.

The Striped Bass is a different breed having very little in common with the Largemouth or Smallmouth Bass.

Striped Bass grow faster and larger than a Largemouth Bass. The Striped bass occupy a different habitat that the Largemouth Bass. Striped Bass prefer the open water.

The Largemouth Bass is a species that thrives on weed lines as well as standing and fallen timber. The Striped Bass does not require or prefer these things.

Striped Bass are a schooling fish, even when they reach larger sizes. You will often find large schools of very large fish. If you are discreet in your approach you can often catch quite a few large fish once you have found a school of them. This is more the case in spring and fall when they feed closer to the surface. When the water temperatures are higher for the bulk of the year they feed at much deeper depths.

Striped Bass stocking and management in inland fresh waters started in the 50's following discovery of reproducing Striped Bass in Santee-Cooper Reservoir in South Carolina.

Originally thought to be strictly a sea fish that swam up fresh water rivers to spawn. (Anadromous).

It was believed that the Santee-Cooper population of Striped Bass had become landlocked because of the construction of two dams that impounded Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion trapping the Striped Bass where they thrived, thus starting the stocking of Striped Bass into Lakes and reservoirs across the nation.

The current belief is the Santee-Cooper Striped Bass population was entirely a freshwater population. This is being supported by current research.
(Campbell, Striped White & Hybrid Bass in South Carolina).

Striped Bass benefits other game fish such as largemouth bass and crappie. The striper seeks out fish such as gizzard shad for its main food supply, thus eliminating fish that would compete with wanted game fish.
(Davis, John. “River Stripers.” South Carolina Wildlife. May-June, 1973.Pages 24-27).

Striped Bass Spawning Habits

  • Striped bass spawn in water of 61 to 69 degrees from April through mid-June preferably in flowing water. The female broadcast eggs into the water column where they are fertilized by the male without affording any protection or parental care.
    During spawning, seven or eight smaller males surround a single, large, female and bump her to swifter currents at the water surface. Ripe eggs are discharged and scattered in the water as males release sperm. This period can last several days.
  • Female striped bass may spawn as early as age 4, but a year class may not reach complete sexual maturity until age 8 or older. By contrast, most male stripers reach sexual maturity at age 2 or 3.

Incubation, Hatching and Larval Stages of Striped Bass Eggs

  • Striped bass eggs hatch 29 to 80 hours after fertilization, depending on the water temperature. Larvae at this point have an average size of 3.1 mm.
  • The mouth forms in two to four days, and the eyes are unpigmented.
  • The larvae are nourished by a large yolk mass. Eggs produced by female stripers weighing 10 pounds or more contain greater amounts of yolk and oil reserve and have a greater probability of hatching.
  • The larvae's survival depends primarily upon events during the first three weeks of life.
    • Typically striped bass larvae begin feeding about five days after hatching, depending on water temperature.
    • Eggs and newly hatched larvae require sufficient turbulence to remain suspended in the water column; otherwise, they will settle to the bottom and be smothered.
    • As the larvae grow, they can be found at progressively deeper levels of the water column.

Habitat of Striped Bass

  • Striped Bass do not successfully spawn in fresh water reservoirs but will make spawning runs.
  • Natural reproduction will occur in Rivers such as the Arkansas River.
  • Mature stripers in Fresh water Reservoirs use river and creek channels as migrations routes moving out to flats and points to feed.

Preferred Food Of Striped Bass

  • Striped bass larvae feed primarily on copepods (crustaceans) in both larval and mature stages, and cladocerans (water fleas).
  • Juvenile stripers eat insect larvae, larval fish, mysids (shrimplike crustaceans) and amphipods (tiny scavenging crustaceans that lack a carapace and have laterally flattened bodies).
  • Adult Stripers are piscivorous, or fish-eaters. In summer and fall, stripers diet consist of Shad and other soft scale fish of the herring family as well as crawfish.

Growth of Striped Bass

  • The age of striped bass can be calculated on the scales by a series of growth rings. The winter is a period of slow growth, during which a series of closely spaced rings form around the edge of each scale. The age of an individual Striped Bass can be determined by examining a scale under a microscope and counting the number of such closely spaced bands of rings, called annuli.
    • On average, Striped Bass are four to five inches long at the end of the first year.
    • 11 inches at the end of the second
    • 16 inches at the end of the third
    • and 20 inches at the end of the fourth year.
  • A striped bass that is 36 inches long normally is about 8 years old.
  • A striper 48 inches long, and weighing over 50 pounds, is probably over 15 years old.
  • The largest striped bass on record weighed 125 pounds and was caught in a seine net in North Carolina in 1891.
  • A 92 pound striped bass was netted in Maryland more recently.

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