Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are a native fish to the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Nova Scotia to St. John’s River in Florida. A Gulf of Mexico population of striped bass can be found from the Suwannee River in Florida to Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Striped bass are not native to the Pacific coast of North America, however they were introduced there in the late 1800’s and can be found along the west coast from Washington to California.
Striped bass are anadromous, meaning that the adult fish typically live in saltwater and then migrate to spawn in fresh water rivers each spring. Some striped bass are non-migratory and remain within estuarine river systems such as the St. Lawrence, the Santee Cooper, or the Savannah.
Striped bass are highly prized as a recreational sport fish and are also a parent species of the hybrid striped bass (white bass, Morone chrysops X M. saxitilis), a prominent commercial aquaculture species in North America. On the east coast of the United States, striped bass are recognized as one of the most important food fishes since the colonial times (1600’s).
Striped bass, or “rockfish” as they are sometimes called in North and South Carolina, also have the following common names: striper, linesider, squid hound, and greenhead. They are easily recognizable by the 7 to 8 prominent black stripes that run along the scale rows on each side of their silvery-white bodies. The dorsal fins are completely separated; the first (anterior) dorsal fin has 8-10 hard spines and the second has 10-13 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 hard spines followed by 7-13 soft rays.
The official Latin (scientific) name of the striped bass is Morone saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792). Other previous Latin synonyms for this species are: Perca saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792), Roccus saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792), Sciaena lineata (Bloch, 1792), Morone lineatus(Bloch, 1792), Roccus lineatus (Bloch, 1792), Perca mitchilli alternata (Mitchill, 1815). The closest freshwater relatives of the striped bass are the white bass (Morone chrysops), the yellow bass (Morone mississippiensis), and the white perch (Morone americana).
The largest recorded striped bass (81 lb. 14 oz.) was caught on August 4, 2011 by Gregory Myerson in Long Island Sound (Westbrook, Connecticut, USA) (International Game Fish Association).
For Additional information about striped bass life history and biology, please see this United States Fish and Wildlife report.