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Striped Bass

Morone saxatilis

"Striper, Rockfish, linesider, roller, squidhound and greenhead"


Description: Striped Bass are elongated with 7-8 dark stripes extending horizontally, a dark olive to steel blue back and silver underside with a brassy sheen. The two dorsal fins are separated by a gap, and two spines are present on the edge of the opercle. The caudal fin, or tail, of striped bass is clearly forked. Males reach a maximum length 45 in, whereas females grow to about 72 in. Maximum recorded weight is about 125 lbs. The Striped Bass is 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 variously appear to be light green, olive, steel blue, brown or black. They earn their name from the seven or eight continuous stripes that mark their silvery sides, extending from the gills to the tail. Their undersides are usually white or silver, with a brassy iridescence. Mature stripers are known for their size (reaching 100 pounds and nearly five feet in length) and fighting ability.

Similar Fish: Hybrid bass

Where Found: Striped Bass inhabit coastal waters and are commonly found in bays but may enter rivers in the spring to spawn. Some populations are landlocked. Larvae feed on zooplankton; juveniles take in small shrimps and other crustaceans, annelid worms, and insects; adults feed on a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates, mainly crustaceans . Feeding ceases shortly before spawning.

Stripers are native to the Atlantic coast, from the St. Lawrence River, Canada, to the St. John's River, Florida. On the Gulf coast, it is distributed from the Suwannee River, Florida, to eastern Texas. Because striped bass can live in fresh water, they have been stocked in many inland reservoirs. However, Stripers do not tend to have successful spawns in most inland reservoirs. Striped bass tagged in the Bay have been recaptured in Canadian waters, over 1,000 miles away.

Life Span: Striped bass are believed to live for up to 30 years

Size: Maximum size is 6.6 feet longand maximum scientifically recorded weight is 125 pounds.

MD State Record: 57.2 lbs, by Gary Smith, Assateague Island on May 6, 2006

Chesapeake Bay Record: 67.9 lbs, by Devin Nolan, Bloody Point, 5/13/1995

Freshwater Record: 47 lb. 2 oz. by Robert Bruce, Liberty Reservoir 9/14/1900

World Record: 78.5 lbs, 53" long and girth 34 1/2", by Al McReynolds in Atlantic City during a Nor 'Eastern Storm. It took him four hours to land this beauty of a beast.

Bait used: A number of baits including: clams, eels, anchovies, bloodworms, nightcrawlers, chicken livers, menhaden, herring, shad, and sandworms. It is believed that they are mainly fish eaters.

Tactics to catch: Some anglers prefer fishing from the beach, boats, bridges, river banks, piers or inlets. The important thing is to use the correct bait and equipment. Some other important bait choices for surf anglers include clams, worms, and crabs. If you are trolling for stripers you probably will need silver plated spoons, bucktales with plastic trailers, and surgical tubes (representing eels ). Squid & eel are also an excellent bait for trolling. You could also use an 8 inch to a 12 inch white worm with a twirl tail depending on the size of rockfish you are going for. Freshwater stripers can be caught using alewives and other shads, threadfins, crayfish, and trout. The striped bass will readily eat anything that moves, including smaller individuals of its own species.

Climate (water temperature range): 45 - 77 degrees - preferred water temperature range is 60 to 70 degrees.It is a temperature-specific fish, with an optimal water temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spawning habits: Striped Bass spawning migrations typically begin in March, when water temperatures exceed 58 degrees-F, and continue through early summer, with males, who reach maturity at two or three years of age, arriving at spawning grounds before females, who can be as young as three years old, but actually don't reach maturity until they are approximately eight-years-old. Fish move upstream in the body of water they are located even if natural re-production is not recorded in the body of water the stripers inhabit they will still make the spawning run. Their seasonal movements depend on their age, sex, degree of maturity and the river in which they were born.

A female striper releases her eggs to be fertilized by any pursuing males. The semi-buoyant eggs then need to drift in currents for several days until they hatch. Spawning success is often sporadic because of the limited range of environmental conditions required for eggs to hatch and larvae to grow.

The adult fish then return to the coast while most spend the early spring and summer months in middle New England's near-shore waters. In late fall and early winter they migrate south off the North Carolina and Virginia capes. Most fingerlings remain in the rivers in which they were hatched until they are approximately one-year-old.

Table food: Striped bass are considered excellent eating fish and may be prepared in many ways. The meat is white and flaky. Smaller fish are usually fried and larger ones are baked.

Consumption Concerns: There have been approximately 10 species of mycobacteria have been isolated from striped bass lesions. Use common sense when preparing your fish fillet. Fish with open, reddened lesions on the body or with signs of hemorrhage or darkened patches in the fillets should be discarded. Fish that appear to be healthy and are properly cooked are safe to eat. DHMH recommends that people not consume any raw rockfish or any fish that appears diseased. If you happen to handle an infected rockfish with cut or scraped skin use ordinary hygiene precautions. Wash carefully with warm soapy water, rinse and dry your hands well when handling any raw fish...

Feeding habits: 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 (shrimp like crustaceans) and amphipods (tiny scavenging crustaceans that lack a carapace and have laterally flattened bodies). Adults are piscivorous, ( Habitually feeding on fish). In summer and fall, stripers consume Bay anchovy and Atlantic menhaden; in winter they eat larval and juvenile spot and Atlantic croaker; and in spring they feed on white perch, alewives and blueback herring.

Remarks: It is interesting to note that the Striped bass were used to fertilize fields at one time because they were so plentiful. The oldest Striped bass recorded was 31-years-old. The largest, interestingly enough was a 125 pound female caught in North Carolina in 1891. A 6-year-old female striped bass will produce 500,000 eggs while a 15-year-old may produce over 3,000,000 eggs.

References and or Links:


Chesapeake Bay Program

State of Maryland DNR


In Focus, striped bass health

Edited by Sam

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