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Striped Bass

Morone saxatilis

The striped bass is a large predatory fish with dark stripes running across its metallic body. (D Ross Robertson/LifeDesks)
The striped bass is a large predatory fish with dark stripes running across its metallic body. (D Ross Robertson/LifeDesks)

Also known as the rockfish or striper, the striped bass is a large predatory fish with dark stripes running across its metallic sides. It lives throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries year-round.

Appearance:

  • Elongated body varies in color from light or olive green to blue, brown or black 
  • Metallic sides are striped with seven or eight dark, continuous lines 
  • White belly 
  • Dark, forked tail fin  
  • Deep notch in doral fin. First part of dorsal fin has several spines 
  • Three spines on anal fin 
  • Adults grow 20 inches long and weigh about 30 pounds. Can reach a length of 6 feet and weigh as much as 125 pounds

Habitat:

  • Lives in various habitats throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries
  • Moves upstream in spring to spawn in fresh water 
  • Spends summer and winter in deep channels

Bay 101: Striped Bass from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

Range:

  • Found throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries year-round 
  • After spawning in the spring, the Bay striped bass stock moves to coastal waters. Most spend the summer along the New England coast, and the fall and winter off of North Carolina
  • On the Atlantic coast, striped bass range from Canada to Florida, but are most prevalent from Maine to North Carolina 

Feeding:

  • Feeds on a variety of small fish and invertebrates, including worms, squid, menhaden, anchovies and crustaceans

Predators:

  • Predators include sharks, larger fish and fish-eating birds like ospreys

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Considered to be semi-anadromous fish. Most do not travel all the way from the ocean to their spawning grounds in freshwater rivers 
  • Spawning occurs from April to early June in the Chesapeake Bay's tidal tributaries 
  • During spawning season, several males court a single female, who lays her eggs in fresh or brackish water near the shore 
  • After spawning, adults swim downstream to the Bay. Some continue on to the ocean 
  • Eggs hatch in two to three days, after which larvae move slowly downstream 
  • Juveniles live in the shallows of tidal rivers throughout the summer. Most spend their first two years of life in the river in which they were born
  • Lives 10 to 30 years 

Other Facts:

  • The striped bass is Maryland's state fish, and one of the most popular commercial and recreational catches in the Chesapeake Bay. 
  • The Bay is the largest striped bass nursery area on the Atlantic coast. Seventy to 90 percent of the Atlantic striped bass population uses the Bay to spawn.
  • The oldest recorded striped bass was 31 years old. The largest recorded striped bass was 125 pounds, caught on the North Carolina coast in 1891.
  • The Bay's record striped bass was caught in 1995 off Bloody Point, just south of Kent Island, Maryland. It weighed 67.5 pounds.

Sources and Additional Information:




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