Striped bass go by a wide range of names including Atlantic striped bass, stripers, linesiders, rock, pimpfish, or rockfish. Native to the eastern seaboard of the US and Canada, from the St. Lawrence River to Louisiana, stripers have been introduced to the Pacific coast, Texas and numerous impoundments throughout the country. The largest of the true bass family, this anadromous fish has gain great popularity with anglers wherever it has been introduced.
Rockfish are readily identifiable by their streamlined silvery bodies, marked with seven or eight stripes running from behind the gill plate to the tail. The dorsal fin is separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions. Further, they have a pair of tooth patches on the tongue. Striped bass have been recorded over 6 ft in length and 125 pounds, although most consider any fish over 10 pounds in fresh water to be a respectable catch. They are believed to live upwards of 30 years.
Striped bass travel up rivers to spawn in water of 61 to 69 degrees from April through mid-June. The female broadcast eggs into the water column, as do other temperate bass, where they are fertilized by one or more males. The males bump the female until ripe eggs are discharged and scattered in the water as males release sperm. Female striped bass mature as early as age 4, males reach sexual maturity as early as age 2 or 3. Eggs hatch within one to three days after fertilization, depending on the water temperature.
Initially juvenile bass feed primarily on crustaceans, insect larvae, and larval fish. As stripers mature they become primarily piscivores or fish-eaters. By year one, they are typically four to five inches long, 11-12 inches year two and sixteen or more by year three. Exceptional growth rates, willingness to take a lure, hard fighting when hooked, and excellent table fare, it is easy to understand the popularity of Striped Bass.
Striped Bass in Texas
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. Although Morone is of unknown derivation, saxatilis is Latin meaning "dwelling among rocks." As with other true basses, the dorsal fin is clearly separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions. Striped bass 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. Younger fish may resemble white bass (Morone chrysops). However, striped bass have two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue, whereas white bass have one tooth patch. Striped bass have two sharp points on each gill cover, and white bass have one. Additionally, the second spine on the anal fin is about half the length of the third spine in striped bass, and about two-thirds the length of the third spine in white bass.
The striped bass can live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. There are land-locked populations that complete their entire life cycle in freshwater. These generally ascend tributaries of the lakes or reservoirs where they spend their lives. Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures approach 60°F. Typically, one female is accompanied by several males during the spawning act. Running water is necessary to keep eggs in motion until hatching. In general, at least 50 miles of stream is required for successful hatches. Stripers may reach a size of 10 to 12 inches during the first year. Males are generally mature in two years, and females in three to four. Adults are primarily piscivorous, feeding predominantly on members of the herring family such as gizzard shad and threadfin shad. Alewife and glut herring are often found in their stomachs in the northern states.
Striped bass are the fourth most preferred species among licensed Texas anglers. It is estimated that the economic impact of striper fishing in the Lake Texoma area alone totals well in excess of $20 million. Stripers are often captured using artificial lures that imitate small fish, such as silver spoons. Deep running lures can also be effective, as may live bait, or cut bait. In Texas, stripers in excess of 50 pounds have been landed. Although specimens exceeding 100 pounds have been caught in saltwater, to date a 67.5-pounder was the largest individual reported from inland waters.
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife