Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) - Native
Striped bass seasonally run long distances up large tidal rivers in search of food.
Identification. More elongate than white perch (body depth of adults less than 1/3 length of fish not including tail fin). 7-8 parallel, horizontal stripes. Dorsal fins separate. 9-11 soft anal rays. 2 small spines on edge of opercle. Second anal spine shorter than third. Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper jaw. Typically greenish to brownish on back, silvery white on sides, and white on belly. Very small juveniles may have faint vertical bars, and horizontal stripes may be faint or absent.
The horizontal stripes are just beginning to form on this 3-inch juvenile striped bass from the Connecticut River.
Size. Commonly 16 to 36 inches. Conn. State Record 81.88 pounds. Max. reported size 6.5 feet, 125 pounds. World Record 81.88 pounds.
Distribution. Native range includes the Atlantic Coast from New Brunswick to northern Florida as well as some areas of the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida panhandle. Have been introduced elsewhere, including the West Coast. Landlocked populations have been established in a number of large reservoirs in Southern and Western states. In Connecticut, striped bass are seasonally found along the entire coastline and in all large tidal rivers, where they are typically common to abundant. Most fish migrate south during winter, but some overwinter in Connecticut, most notably in the Thames River.
All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.
Habits. Prefer rocky reefs and shoals of coastal waters and estuaries, but can be found in a variety of habitats. Striped bass will range many miles up larger coastal rivers in search of food or spawning areas. Small fish typically travel in schools, whereas larger fish are more solitary. Can be captured by angling on a variety of baits and lures. Striped bass are challenging to keep in a home aquarium. Juveniles can be kept in a large tank (over 100 gallons), but grow quickly and are very skittish. They tolerate fresh water, but prefer some salt content. Require live, frozen or freeze-dried food.
Striped bass grow large and are arguably the most important inshore predator and sport fish in the state. Bob Sampson photo.
Comments. The striped bass is a very important gamefish wherever found. Numbers have rebounded in recent years, primarily due to conservative length and creel limits, from historical lows during the mid-1970s. Some fisheries scientists believe that predation by striped bass is at least partly responsible for the decline of anadromous herring in Connecticut. Striped bass spawning has not been verified in Connecticut. Small (less than 5 inches) young-of-year striped bass have become increasingly more common in the lower Connecticut River. It is unclear whether this is an indication of successful spawning in the river or whether these are migrants from the nearby Hudson River stock.
Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.