Striped Bass Spawning Habits

 

Striped Bass spawn in water of 55 to 69 degrees from April through mid-June in flowing water of Rivers. Broadcasting millions of eggs without affording any protection or parental care.

During spawning, seven or eight males surround a single large female and bump her to the waters surface. While the males jockey for position they create a lot of splashing sometimes called  “rock fights.”  Near the surface the female turns on her side with rolling and splashing. The males continue bumping her to release her eggs. As the eggs are discharged and scattered the males release milt turning the water milky white. Spawning can last several days. During spawning, a female can releases between one-half to three million eggs. Striped bass will continue to consume food during the spawning cycle, stopping only long enough to release their eggs or milt. Adult striped bass offer no protection or care for these eggs, and will move on once the eggs are released and fertilized. While the eggs are still in the female, they are only about 1/25 inch in diameter, but after release, they absorb water and increase to about four times the original size and possess a tiny oil globule. The eggs are transparent, making them virtually invisible. This change makes the egg approximately the same density of the surrounding water. The eggs become somewhat buoyant and are easily carried by the water currents. During the spawning act, eggs and milt are released into the water. The milt contains microscopic sperm cells which penetrate the eggs and cause them to develop.

Fertilized Striped Bass eggs need to be carried by water currents until hatching (about 48-72 hours) to avoid suffocation. 

If the egg sinks to the bottom they die. The sediments reduce oxygen exchange between the egg and the surrounding water. This is the most critical period for young stripers.

The water current must be strong enough and the river distance long enough to keep the eggs and young from settling to the river bottom.

The hatching time varies from 65 hours at 60 degrees F to 36 hours at 70 degrees F. Studies have shown that greater than 80 percent of the eggs are usually fertilized but egg mortality is high, especially in water temperatures above 70 F.
Less than one percent of the eggs will survive the fist two months. The eggs hatch in about two days. The length of time may be shorter or longer depending upon temperature; hatching is quickest in warmer water.

Once hatched, the fingerling feeds on its yolk sac for approximately one week. The yolk-sack larvae is 2.0 to 3.7mm in size. This larval stage can last from 35-50 days, and is dependent on food resources as well as water temperature.  After that, they feed on zooplankton as they move downstream. In about a week they start feeding on tiny crustaceans which are just visible to the naked eye. It takes about a month for the fry to reach two inches long and start feeding on tiny crustaceans primarily mysid shrimp and amphipods.

 Successful reproduction occurs in only a handful of inland reservoirs and rivers in the United States.
 The Arkansas River and Red Rivers in Arkansas have a successful spawning population.

Because striped bass eggs must remain suspended in a current with a high salinity level until hatching, the lakes in Arkansas are unsuitable for natural reproduction.

The biologist of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission maintain the populations in Arkansas Reservoirs by stocking fingerlings.

Striped bass grow fast reaching a size of 10 to 12 inches during the first year and can live  20+ years.

Male stripers mature at two or three years.
Females first time to spawn is at five or six years.
It takes several years for spawning females to reach full productivity.
An average six year old female produces half a million eggs while a fifteen year old can produce three million.

When stocked in fresh water, they inhabit open-water areas for most of the year. True to their nomadic nature, striped bass will follow their preferred prey, the Shad, instead of holding to cover or structure.


 

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