Striped Bass Fishing

The striped bass is one of the most popular fish species in the entire United States, being the state fish in South Carolina, Maryland and Rhode Island as well as the state saltwater fish of New Hampshire and New York. They can also be found in the Minas Basin and Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The fish is a regular member of the Moroniade family with a silvery body that is marked with longitudinal dark colored stripes that run from behind the gills to the tail’s base. The heaviest striped bass weighted 125 US pounds (57kg) and the biggest one measured 6.6ft (200cm). Their lifespan is around the figure of 30 years.

The striped bass is native to the Atlantic coastline of North America and are known as anadormous fish that migrate between salt and fresh water where the spawning takes place. In the last couple of decades, they were introduced to locations outside their natural range. For example, they have been introduced to the Pacific Coast of the North American continent as well as many reservoir impoundments spread across the US with the main purposes of recreational fishing but also as a predator in order to control the large populations of gizzard shad. They also were introduced into the waters of Iran, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Ecuador and Latvia for aquaculture and sport fishing.

The striped bass breeds in freshwater but spend their lives in saltwater. However, in 1941 the striped bass was accidently landlocked in the process of building the Santee Cooper reservoir in South Carolina. At that moment it was discovered that the striped bass is able to thrive in freshwater reservoirs  that remain cool during the summertime and contain sufficient oxygen along with the much needed quantity for forage. Since that moment, it has been successfully introduced in several reservoirs across the central part of the USA.

The striped bass is known as a powerful fish, so strong that they appear to have no difficulties in handling themselves in the surf. In the first two years of their life they live in small groups and later on they tend to congregate in larger schools (especially to those fish that reach approximately 10 pounds – which are also known as “school fish”). The small ones (2-3 years old) tend to school densely also they travel great distances without scattering but it is not likely that a given school holds together for a longer period.

This type of fish is very voracious and feeds on smaller fishes of whatever kind is available as well as on a rich variety of invertebrates. The list of its stomach contents for one locality usually includes alewife, eels, herring, mummichogs, rock eels, mullet, channel bass, silver hake, tomcod, lobsters, crabs as well as other types of food.

The population of the striped bass declined to less than 5 million by 1982 by luckily with the solid efforts of many fishermen along with serious management programs the population reached 56 million fish in the year 2007. A year earlier in 2006, recreational anglers along with commercial fisherman caught an incredible number of 3.8 million striped bass. The management programs include size limits, commercial quotas as well as biological reference points for the health of the striped bass specie. The problem with overfishing was eliminated, logical if you look at the current striped bass population.

The striped bass has been hybridized with the white bass in order to produce the hybrid striped bass which is also known as the sunshine bass or the wiper. In the present, there are a couple of successful spawning populations of freshwater striped bass and here we include the Arkansas River, Lake Texoma and also Lake Marion, located in South Carolina which retained a landlocked breeding population when the dam was constructed. Other freshwater fisheries must be restocked with hatchery-produced fish on an annual basis. Stocking of striped bass was discontinued at Lake Mead in 1973 once natural reproduction was verified.

All these mean that unlike almost all other types of bass, the striped bass can successfully live in both saltwater and freshwater conditions, being introduced with great results in many locations with freshwater although the natural habitat of the striped bass is considered to be saltwater.

The baits used for catching striped are numerous and include: eels, clams, chicken livers, anchovies, shad, sandworms, herring and nightcrawlers. Sometimes, the striped bass is very picky when it comes down to which bait he wants to take. Due to this large number of baits used and the fact that are consider picky, fishermen see them as being “lazy” feeders not to mention opportunistic but the fact is that 90% of their diet consists of fish.

Surfcasting is one of the most popular methods of fishing the striped bass for those fisherman that do not have access to a fishing boat or they just prefer to stay on the shore. The shore fishing activity includes fishing the shores of inland waterways, rivers, bays and saltwater ponds. A surfcaster usually gears up a little different in comparison to inland shore anglers mainly because the conditions are more difficult and here we include heavy surf along with heavy winds. The equipment of a surfcaster must include rod, reel, tackle as well as items for safety as well as comfort (like waders that are secured by a tight wader belt in order to prevent filling with water, line clippers, dry top, hook cutters, pliers and a knife.

Another method of fishing striped bass is by trolling. The tackle employed is a very strong hand line plus artificial bait. Here we include bucktales with plastic trailers, silver plated spoons and surgical tubes. For trolling, eel and squid’s are efficient. The freshwater striped bass can be caught by using alewives as well as other threadfins, crayfish and alewives. The fish is known to eat basically anything in motion and here we include smaller individuals of striped bass.

The striped bass is a temperature-specific fish and has an optimal water temperature of about 63F (17C). When looking for such a fish, a fisherman must pay attention on the optimal water temperature rather than the structure of the environment. It is a known fact that the larger striped bass are more affected by the water temperature in comparison to the small-sized fishes and they are lazier which leads to the conclusion that they can be caught on cutbait mainly because they often wait for scraps missed by the smaller and faster fish instead of using the energy for chasing down their dinner. Another efficient way of trolling is by using a 12 inch (30 cm) white worm with a twirl tail depending on the size of the striped bass.

The recreational value of the striped bass is very high as its money return to the seaside communities where bass are plentiful is much greater in comparison to the price the fish bring in the market (if the money spent on boat hire, guide services + lodging, tackle & bait are taken into consideration).