Striped Bass Catch and Release

Temperature, depth caught, handling, and size of the fish are important factors affecting survival in catch-and-release attempts.
Stress-related mortality increases greatly when water temperatures exceed 70F and is also greater in freshwater than in brackish water. Also If you catch your fish at 25 feet or below, the chances are it will die.

See 2015 AGFC regulations page 46. It is against Arkansas Laws to knowing waste game fish.

Striped Bass:

 Consider limiting the number of released fish when the surface water temperature exceeds 75 degrees.
Also consider limiting released fish July-October on deep water lakes - Lake Ouachita, Lake Norfork and Beaver Lake.

Larger fish fight longer and are harder to handle. A larger fish also has a greater ratio of body mass to gill surface area and therefore has a more difficult time paying back its “oxygen debt” incurred during a fight. In other words, it can’t efficiently get rid of carbon dioxide generated via muscular exertion and re-oxygenate tissues fast enough. This can result in deadly metabolic changes. The weight of their bodies out of water can cause injury to their vital organs if held improperly. Infection and disease can result in mortality of fish whose protective slime coat is removed during handling.

Ideally, fish are landed quickly, handled little, if at all, and kept in the water while the hook is removed using a de-hooker and barbless hooks.

Catch and release of Striped Bass does not work near as good as water temperatures increase or fish are caught from deep water. During warm water or deep water periods catch and release is not recommended unless you learn how and take the time to do it right.  In most states it is against state game laws to knowing waste edible gamefish.

Stripers / Striped Bass research suggests catch and release does not work very well - if at all with fish caught when caught below 30 feet. They suffer from the sudden pressure change and cannot adjust their body's physiology quickly enough to follow the pressure change. The result is called "barotrauma". Fish with barotrauma will have their enormously swollen swim-bladder protruding from their mouth, bulging eyeballs, and often sustain other, more subtle but still very serious injuries. Upon release, fish with barotrauma are unable to swim or dive due to the swollen swim-bladder. One practice has been to deflate the swim bladder by pricking it with a thin sharp object before attempting to release the fish. Research indicates both barotrauma and the practice of deflating the swimbladder are both highly damaging to fish, and that survival rates of caught-and-released fish is extremely low.


  • Know the fishing regulations and be prepared to release fish.
  • Striper catch-and-release fishing trip work best in early spring, late fall or winter when water is less than 70F.
  • Use strong enough tackle and land fish quickly to minimize stress.
  • Use "circle" hooks or better yet "barb-less" hooks whenever possible.
  • Don't use stainless steel hooks - Stainless Steel hooks won't deteriorate.
  • If you tournament fish there is a device called the "Striper Tube" That could help in keeping Striped Bass alive for weigh in and release.
  • Use artificial lures instead of live bait to reduce deep hooking.
  • Replace treble hooks with large, single barb-less hooks to reduce injury and handling.
  • If legal, keep fish that are bleeding heavily as their chances of survival are poor.


  • Don't remove the fish from the water.
  • If you want to weigh the fish, weight the fish in your soft mesh net. Then place the fish back in the water gently.
  • Lip land your catch or soft mesh nets..
  • Release as soon as possible.!
    Keep the amount of handling to a minimum and keep fish in the water if at all possible.
  • Do not allow the fish to thrash around.
    If you must handle it use wet gloves or a wet rag.
    Stripers can be calmed down by covering their eyes and/or turning them on their back.


  • Carefully, but quickly, remove hooks using a de-hooker, needle nose pliers or forceps.
  • Whenever possible remove hooks in the throat or gut using a de-hooker.
  • Cut the line if you cannot carefully or quickly remove hooks.

Learn and practice catch-and-release fishing techniques and teach them to your children and friends.

Striped Bass Fiberglass Replicas

 With the increasing popularity of "The Catch and Release Program", you may be forced to make a difficult decision when deciding whether to keep or release that Trophy Fish. You do have the option of taking a photo to prove you had temporary possession of the wall-hanger, which will shore up your credibility when you share your adventure with your friends and neighbors. Another option is Fiberglass Reproduction, which allows you to release the trophy, and keep a mount.   A fiberglass fish reproduction is an extremely durable, long lasting alternative to traditional skin mounts. The replica will withstand hot or cold climates and will never deteriorate or shrink. In some cases they are less expensive than a conventional mount.

Lactic Acid Build up in Striped Bass

 High muscular activity and stress during fighting causes disturbances in fish tissues and organs. These changes occur in the fishes blood and may be  severe enough to alter normal physiology and behavior and ultimately compromise survival. In some cases, fish may die, either on the line or more likely after release. Changes in blood chemistry can be compared to several variables which are associated with the fight such as tackle type, fight time, water temperature, and fish size. Findings show that these fish exhibit fluctuations in blood pH and blood levels of hormones, electrolytes, and metabolites due to the fights associated with rod and reel angling. For example, the metabolic byproduct of anaerobic glycolysis is lactic acid. Rough handling of fish, internal hook damage, and excessive time out of water can cause irreparable damage to a fish that is released. Recovery may take days or months if the fish survives at all, and will require a metabolic cost. Physiological stress can be minimized by reducing fight and handling time. However, physical trauma can only be reduced through conscious efforts of anglers when choosing to release a fish. Hook design, handling methods, and experience all play a major role in  proper release of Stripers.

Air Bladder Of The Striped Bass

Striped Bass maintain their relative depth in the water column by adjusting the volume and pressure of gas in their air bladder in order to maintain a neutral buoyancy. To maintain equilibrium at increasing depths where the gas in the air bladder would be compressed, greater gas pressure is required in the air bladder. Conversely, at shallow depths less pressure is required as the gas in the air bladder expands. The air bladder occupies approximately 4 to 6% of the total volume of the fish. Quick vertical  movements without adjustment to the rates of secretion of gas into, or re-absorption of gas from, the air bladder. However the magnitude of these movements may be related to the depth of the fish. The rapid removal from deep water at a rate far in excess of the rate that the fish can actively remove gas from the air bladder. Often the result is an excessively inflated air bladder that may distend the abdomen, or force the air bladder and gut lining to protrude out of the mouth. The probability of survival for a fish released with a distended air bladder is not high. The fish may reabsorb the excess gas in time.

Some people claim they can release the air from the bladder by poking a hole in the fish with a needle but a tear in the gut wall would readily allow water to penetrate the  internal body cavity of the fish. This would most likely lead to the entry of water into the body cavity resulting in death of the fish.

The below information is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation about releasing air from the air bladder.

Striped bass like most fishes, adjust their buoyancy so they can maintain their vertical position in the water without actively swimming. Stripers adjust their buoyancy by the gas bladder. The gas bladder in fish operates like a buoyancy compensating device used by a SCUBA diver. As depth increases and the gas compresses (occupies less volume). To maintain neutral buoyancy, the fish adds gas to the gas bladder. When the fish ascends, pressure decreases, the volume of gas in the bladder expands, and buoyancy increases. Stripers can remove gas from the bladder with the gas gland, but this a relatively slow process. Therefore, a striper quickly displaced from deepwater to shallow water is helplessly buoyant and suffers “the bends". Behavioral symptoms of stripers with buoyancy problems include fish that remain at the surface after release and fish that lie on their side or assume a “head-down" posture.

These fish can be depressurized by using a #18 gauge hypodermic needle having a length of 1 to 2 inches. Insert the needle under a scale, through the skin and into the body cavity to puncture the gas bladder.

The location of insertion is important, because sticking a vital organ, such as the closely located kidney can kill the fish. To locate the point of insertion insert the needle where the tip of the pectoral fin touches the 2nd stripe below the lateral line.

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