The striped bass (Morone saxatilis), also called Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, pimpfish, or rockfish, is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the state saltwater (marine) fish of New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Hampshire. They are also found in the Minas Basin and Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Morphology and lifespan
The striped bass is a typical member of the Moronidae family in shape, having a streamlined, silvery body marked with longitudinal dark stripes running from behind the gills to the base of the tail. Maximum size is 200 cm (6.6 ft) and maximum scientifically recorded weight 57 kg (125 lb). Common mature size is 120 cm (3.9 ft). Striped bass are believed to live for up to 30 years.
Striped bass are 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. Spawning takes place in fresh water.
Introductions outside their natural range
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. These include: Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico; Lake Ouachita, Lake Norfork, Beaver Lake and Lake Hamilton in Arkansas; Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant, and Lake Havasu in Arizona; Castaic Lake and 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; Watts Bar Lake, Tennessee; and Lake Mead, Nevada; Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Whitney, Possum Kingdom Lake, and Lake Buchanan in Texas; Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania; and in Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake.
The spawning success of striped bass has been studied in the San Francisco Bay-Delta water system, with a finding that high total dissolved solids (TDS) reduce spawning. At levels as low as 200 mg/l TDS, an observable diminution of spawning productivity occurs. They can be found in lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands.
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.
Striped bass spawn in fresh water, and although they have been successfully adapted to freshwater habitat, they naturally spend their adult lives in saltwater (i.e., it is anadromous). Four important bodies of water with breeding stocks of striped bass are: Chesapeake Bay, Massachusetts Bay/Cape Cod, Hudson River and Delaware River. It is believed that many of the rivers and tributaries that emptied into the Atlantic, had at one time, breeding stock of striped bass. One of the largest breeding areas is the Chesapeake Bay, where populations from Chesapeake and Delaware bays have intermingled. The very few successful spawning populations of freshwater striped bass include Lake Texoma, the Colorado River and its reservoirs downstream from and including Lake Powell, and the Arkansas River, as well as Lake Marion (South Carolina) that retained a landlocked breeding population when the dam was built; other freshwater fisheries must be restocked with hatchery-produced fish annually. Stocking of striped bass was discontinued at Lake Mead in 1973 once natural reproduction was verified.
Hybrids with other bass
Striped bass have also been hybridized with white bass to produce hybrid striped bass also known as wiper. These hybrids have been stocked in many freshwater areas across the US.
Fishing for striped bass
Striped bass are of significant value for sport fishing, and have been introduced to many waterways outside their natural range. A variety of angling methods are used, including trolling and surf casting, with topwater lures a good pick for surf casting. Striped bass will take a number of live and fresh baits, including bunker, clams, eels, sandworms, herring, bloodworms, mackerel, and shad, with the last being an excellent bait for freshwater fishing.
The largest striped bass ever taken by angling was a 81.88-lb (37.14-kg) specimen taken from a boat in Long Island Sound, near the Outer Southwest Reef, off the coast of Westbrook, Connecticut. The all-tackle world record fish was taken by Gregory Myerson on the night of August 4, 2011. The fish took a drifted live eel bait, and fought for 20 minutes before being boated by Myerson. A second hook and leader was discovered in the fish's mouth when it was boated, indicating it had been previously hooked by another angler. The fish measured 54 in in length and had a girth of 36 in. The International Game Fish Association declared Myerson's catch the new all-tackle world record striped bass on October 19, 2011. In addition to now holding the All-Tackle record, Meyerson’s catch also landed him the new IGFA men’s 37-kg (80-lb) line class record for striped bass, which previously stood at 70 lb. The previous all-tackle world record fish was a 35.6-kg (78.5-lb) specimen taken in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 21, 1982 by Albert McReynolds, who fought the fish from the beach for 1:20 after taking his Rebel artificial lure. McReynolds' all-tackle world record stood for 29 years.
Recreational bag limits vary by state and province.
Landlocked striped bass
Striped bass are an anadromous fish, so their spawning ritual of traveling up rivers to spawn led some of them to become landlocked during lake dam constructions. The first area where they became landlocked was documented to be in the Santee-Cooper River during the construction of the two dams that impounded Lakes Moultrie and Marion, and because of this, the state game fish of South Carolina is the striped bass.
Recently, biologists came to believe that striped bass stayed in rivers for long periods of time, with 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.
One of the only landlocked striped bass populations in Canada is located in the Grand Lake, Nova Scotia. They migrate out in early April into the Shubencadie River to spawn. These bass also spawn in the Stewiacke River (a tributary of the Shubencadie ). The Shubencadie River system is one of five known spawning areas in Canada for striped bass, with the others being the St. Lawerence River, Miramichi River, Saint John River, Annapolis River and Shubencadie/Stewiacke Rivers. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/species-especes/stripedbass-Fundy-barraye-eng.htm
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."
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2007). "Morone saxatilis" in FishBase. March 2007 version.
- Striped Bass Management Plan retrieved on 10 June 2007.
- Pennysylvania State Fish & Boat Commission, Gallery of Pennsylvania Fishes, Chapter 21. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
- Indiana Fish and Wildlife, Evaluation of Striped Bass Stockings at Harden Reservoir. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
- Kaiser Engineers, California, Final Report to the State of California, San Francisco Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Program, State of California, Sacramento, CA (1969)
- "Executive Order 13449: Protection of Striped Bass and Red Drum Fish Populations". Office of the Federal Register. October 20, 2007. http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/2007.html#13449. Retrieved October 24, 2007.
- Chesapeake Bay Program, Striped Bass
- Wilde, G. R. and L.J. Paulson. 1989. Food habits of subadult striped bass in Lake Mead Arizona-Nevada. The Southwestern Naturalist 34(1) 118-123.
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Status of the Striped Bass/Hybrid Bass Bass Fishery March 2006 retrieved 10 June 2007.
- Pennsylvania State Fish & Boat Commission, Gallery of Pennsylvania Fishes, Chapter 21. Retrieved 10 June 2007.
- Greg Myerson's World Record Striper Official Website
- IGFA all-tackle world record striped bass
- New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
- David DiBendetto, On The Run, An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast, page 195
- "History of Freshwater Striped Bass". http://www.southernstripes.com. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
- "Striped Bass in River Systems". http://fishing.about.com/library/weekly/ftales/bl001127.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
- "Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: Striped Bass". http://www.asmfc.org/speciesDocuments/stripedBass/profiles/speciesprofile.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- Atlantic striped bass NOAA FishWatch. Retrieved 5 November 2012.