Morone saxatilis

Common Names: striper, rockfish.

Preferred Habitat: In North Carolina, striped bass are found in Coastal rivers and estuaries, as well as large impoundments. Adult striped bass prefer water temperatures less than 75 degrees F and will often lose weight and suffer additional health problems when forced to live under warmer conditions. Their over riding selection for temperature can isolate them from prey and acceptable levels of oxygen.

Range: All of North Carolina’s coastal rivers support striped bass.

Common Size: 20-30 inches, 3-10 pounds. Striped bass can live in excess of 30 years under good habitat conditions and light fishing pressure. Hence they have the potential to reach 60 lbs or better.

Food Habits: The diet of striped bass consists mostly of soft-rayed fish. Preferred species in fresh water are threadfin shad, gizzard shad and blueback herring. Striped bass commonly herd schools of prey fish against the surface, where their frenzied feeding can splash water several feet in the air.

Spawning: Prior to spawning in early spring, striped bass migrate up rivers. Spawning occurs when water temperatures reach 60-70°F. The semi-buoyant eggs are released in the flowing water and fertilized by several males in a thrashing event known as a "fight". As many as 3,000,000 eggs may be released by one female. The eggs require a flow adequate to prevent their settling to the bottom during the incubation period of approximately 50 hours. During their first few days of life the larval fish are sustained by a yolk material while they continue to develop until they can feed on zoo plankton.

Miscellaneous: Because striped bass need flowing water to spawn successfully, most reservoir populations are maintained solely by stocking. Striped bass do not tolerate handling as well as Largemouth bass. Extra measures to minimize handling should be taken when releasing legal or sub-legal sized fish. Consider removing barbs and replacing treble hooks with single hooks when angled stripers will be released.