Striped Bass Stocked in Pacific Ocean in 1879

Striped Bass Stocked in Pacific Ocean in 1879?
Yes you read it right, in 1879 and again in 1881, 135 & approx. 500 striped bass the second trip (1- 3 inches long) were seined from the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers near Red Bank, New Jersey by Dr. Livingston Stone, at the urging of S.R. Throckmorton of the California State Board of Fish Commissioners, and transported by train in wooden barrels and milk cans across the continent to the San Francisco Bay.

Today, 136 years later, It still is perhaps the most successful fish stocking effort in the history of the United States.

Circa 1880 fish train car.The transported stripers adapted so well, that by 1889, just ten years after the first stocking of Atlantic fish, striped bass were being sold in San Francisco markets.

Transporting fry coast to coast by train today would be no easy task.               Early fish train cars
But in 1879, Only ten years after the first coast to coast rail trip was even possible !!!

The journey had to be an outright exhausting, difficult and dangerous adventure.
See Disaster at Elkhorn River

An impossible trip for most men. But Dr.Livingston Stone of the U.S. Fish Commission ( forerunner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), was not like most men, he was up to the challenge. He had the vision and attitude that he could do it. His charge was to get the striped bass to California alive.

The fish were carried in wooded barrels and milk cans and cooled by ice, Dr. Stone's crew changed the water every 2 hours when possible and agitation was done by hand 24 hours a day. After days of continuous care, most all of the fish arrived in good shape. In the 1881 trip to California DR Stone had devised a cylinder with tiny holes in the bottom when filled with water and held over the cans released a fine spray of air enriched water.

Despite Indians, rickety bridges, poor rail beds, dry plains and the Rocky Mountains and having to improvising ways to keep the fragile fingerlings stripers alive he accomplished his mission. Today the Striped Bass is one of California’s top-ranking sport fish. With about 300,000 anglers fishing for stripers annually catching over 200,000 fish, adding over $24 million to the economy all directly related to striped bass fishing.

Striped Bass picture from late 1800's California - Mr. James R. Steers

Thanks to the early fisheries pioneers, men and women with vision and fortitude, we can enjoy the great sport of striper fishing across this great nation of ours.

Today dedicated fisheries biologist across our great nation, with that same attitude of vision and fortitude, follow in the footsteps of men like Dr. Livingston Stone, continuing on the journey into the future.










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