Fish and Aquatic Conservation



illustration of a Striped bass

Striped bass

Morone saxatilis, (Walbaum, 1792)

Cool Facts

Striped bass are often called stripers, linesider or rockfish. They are silvery, shading to olive-green on the back and white on the belly, with seven or eight uninterrupted horizontal stripes on each side of the body. They can live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Spawning begins in the spring and running water is necessary to keep eggs in motion until hatching. Striped bass don’t have eyelids so when the sun comes up, they will retreat to deeper water to avoid the bright light. A female striped bass can lay up to 3,000,000 eggs and the female will grow larger than the males.

SIZE: Adult striped bass can range from 16 to 30 in. (40.6 cm to 76.2 cm). The maximum reported length is 6 ft. 6 in. (200 cm) with the common length being 3 ft. 11 in. (120 cm)The largest specimen ever captured weighed 125 lbs. (56.8 kg)

RANGE: Striped bass range in the Western Atlantic from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to the St. John River in northern Florida and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Striped bass habitat extends from the fresh and brackish tributaries of western Florida and into Louisiana. The population of striped bass which is indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico is a genetically distinct population from Atlantic coast striped bass populations.

HABITAT: Striped bass, as their name indicates, are indigenous both to the Atlantic coast and to the Gulf of Mexico.

DIET: Striped bass are opportunistic predators feed on plankton, insects, crustaceans, and small fish throughout their various stages of development. Striped bass larvae feed on zooplankton, juveniles feed on small shrimps and other crustaceans, worms and insects. Upon reaching adulthood on the Atlantic coast, Atlantic menhaden become their primary forage species, while also feeding on alewives, herring, smelt, eels, flounders, mummichogs, and silversides. Feeding usually ceases before spawning.

Natural History

Striped bass are the largest of the temperate basses. They are also anadromous, spending their adult lives in the ocean and then returning to freshwater tributaries to spawn. Young striped bass remain in streams and estuaries as they grow, and usually enter salt water before the first winter after they hatched.

Female striped bass spawn more than once in a season, but do not necessarily spawn every year. Unlike salmon, that spawn only once and die, striped bass are able to spawn several times and are known as multiple spawners.

Conservation

Atlantic coast striped bass populations within the U.S. are managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) through fishery management measures delineated by the Atlantic Coast Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.

Atlantic coast striped bass populations suffered a major collapse shortly after commercial landings of Atlantic coast striped bass peaked in 1973 at more than 6,000,000 metric tons. Additional factors contributing to the stock collapse beside commercial overharvest were habitat loss and the construction of fish passage barriers such as dams that prevented stripe bass from reaching their spawning habitat. As a result of this collapse, approximately 20 fish hatcheries began rearing and stocking striped bass to offset plummeting stocks.

Atlantic coast striped stocks have significantly rebounded since the early 1970’s. In matter of fact, Atlantic coast striped bass are considered a “poster child’ for successful interjurisdictional fishery management of a coastal migratory species. As of 2014, Atlantic coast striped bass stocks are no longer overfished and overfishing is no longer occurring.