Striped Bass Information
This page has striped bass information, fishing techniques, rigs, recipes, pictures, artwork and more.
Striped bass are saltwater fish of North America's Atlantic Coast. The species can survive in freshwater and is commonly stocked in lakes.
They have also been introduced along the Pacific Coast, where populations have increased.
Striped bass are also known as stripers or "rockfish" in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and North Carolina.
These beautiful fish are prized by cooks as table fare. Striped bass meat is white, firm and flaky.
Atlantic Striped Bass
The striped bass (also known as striper, linesides, rockfish and other names) is highly sought after as a recreational fish. The species is also harvested commercially and is grown in aquaculture operations. Striped bass are very hardy fish, and can live in freshwater. They are often stocked in lakes and reservoirs throughout the USA.
Striped bass are found along much of the Atlantic Coast. Most of the fish follow a predictable life cycle. The major nursery for Atlantic striped bass stocks is the Chesapeake Bay. Young fish feed and grow in shallow estuaries until they are large enough to leave the bay. As adults, they live along the coast from New England to the Carolinas.
According to ASMFC, at least three distinct stocks of striped bass form a coastal migratory complex::
* Hudson River
* Delaware River
* Chesapeake Bay and tributaries
Eventually most adult fish return to the Chesapeake to spawn. According to MD DNR, "Historically, as much as 90 percent of the entire Atlantic Coast striped bass population returns to Maryland waters to produce the next generation of fish."
Striped Bass are very adaptable and opportunistic which makes fishing for them a challenge. There are dozens of methods of catching striped bass and what works in one area might be totally ineffective just a short distance away. Fishing also varies seasonally as fish migrate along the mid Atlantic coast of the USA.
Light Tackle Jigging
Light tackle jigging is an easy and enjoyable technique that has gain popularity in recent years. Light tackle jigging lets the angler fish with small metal or other type jigs, fishing any part of the water column. Anglers locate fish or productive structure, then cast or simply lower lures to the desired depth.
Several rigs are popular among anglers. Perhaps the most common saltwater rigs are metal jigs such as Stingsilver, Hopkins, Crippled Herring and others. The fluttering action of these can be a deadly attractant to fish. Besides single metal jigs, some anglers use tandem rigs. This can be a metal or other jig coupled with a smaller lure on a dropper for instance.
Tackle is simple for this type of fishing. Anglers us a variety of outfits from 8-30 lb class depending on the situation. Some anglers use monofilament line but braided line can be a big asset in reaching the bottom.
Wire Line Trolling
This technique works in many locations where rockfish can be found. Trolling in the manner described is a bit difficult to get used to but the results are very consistent and sometimes the action is almost too fast! Anglers troll very slowly, often around 2 to 3 knots. Two lines from the stern are rigs spooled with #30 monel or other types of wire. On these lines go a 3 way swivel. A heavy (10-30 oz.) sinker is added on 3-4' section of #30 mono. The third part of the swivel gets a 20-30' leader with either a single lure or a pair of jigs.
Live Baits for Striped Bass
Live baits for striped bass include clams, crabs, eels, small fish, shrimp, and other baits. These vary with season and location. Fishermen choose live baits depending on availability and personal preference. Some anglers will find live baits in local tackle shops (in season) while others need to catch their own.
A cast net or seine can be a great asset for anglers that need small spot, menhaden, mullet or other baitfish. Another possibility is a fish trap, which is baited and left overnight. This is a good option for catching large numbers of spot, perch or other baits. Eels can also be caught using special baited traps.
Striped Bass Books
Preparing Striped Bass for Table Fare
For top quality striped bass or "rockfish" as table fare, it's important to take care of the fish prior to cooking. The fish should be chilled on ice and laid out flat until cleaned.
Once the fish is home, it can be rinsed thoroughly and filleted. Several cleaning methods exist and each angler learns their favorite style.
The fish can be scaled and the skin left on, filleted and then skinned or the skin can be cut around the perimeter of the fish and pulled off with pliers. The skin-on version is nice when baking or grilling smaller fish.
Skinning the fish before filleting has some advantages, the most important being speed. Filleting the fish and then cutting the skin off removes the most dark meat and leaves the highest quality portion, although some fish is lost in the process.
Cooks have a variety of favorites for cooking striped bass. Small pieces of any size fish is delicious fried. Other choices include grilled, broiled, baked, poached, smoked and more.
Striped Bass Recipes
1 lb striped bass fillets
2oz. white wine
2oz. dijon mustard
This one is real simple but it's also really good.
Mix equal parts of white wine, mayonaise and dijon mustard and wisk until smooth.
Pour over fish fillets in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.
Lemon Butter Rockfish
1 lb. striped bass fillets
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Old Bay crab seasoning or equivalent
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain fillets and lay in a casserole dish coated with olive oil.
Squeeze lemon juice over fillets, coat with butter and sprinkle with seasoning.
Bake for 10 minutes or until fish is white on the outside and still slightly pink in the center.
Broiled Striped Bass Parmesan
2 pounds striped bass fillets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 green onions, chopped
thinly sliced lemon and parsley for garnish, optional
Place fillets in a single layer on a greased baking dish or broiler
pan; brush with lemon juice.
Combine Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, butter, and green onions in
a small bowl; set aside.
Broil fillets 4 to 6 minutes, or until fish flakes easily
with a fork. Remove from oven; spread with cheese
Broil about 30 seconds longer, or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
Garnish with sliced lemon and parsley if desired.
Serves 6 to 8.
For more seafood recipes visit Fresh Seafood.
Trolling for Striped Bass
Several saltwater fishing lures are popular for catching striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast of the USA. These include umbrella rigs, tandem rigs, parachute jigs, bucktail jigs, spoons, and plugs.
This family of lures have a wide variety of applications in saltwater fishing. Jigs are available in sizes for any fishing situation, with the most popular lure weights ranging from 3/8 oz. to monster jigs of 16 oz. or more. Lead head jigs are divided into 2 basic categories; bare hooks and skirted lures. Both types of jigs are standard equipment for catching striped bass and bluefish.
Skirted jigs usually have a painted head and are dressed with a body made of deer hair (called bucktail), feathers or synthetic materials. These jigs can be fished alone or combined with soft plastics or natural strip baits such as pork rinds, squid, bloodworms, fish belly, eel skins, cut crab or other local options.
Bare jigs are meant to accommodate soft plastic bodies or in some cases natural baits. A myriad of soft plastic bodies are available, including designs that mimic shad, herring, bunker, silversides, eels, ballyhoo and other species of baitfish.
Parachute jigs are popular for catching striped bass and bluefish. These special jigs are characterized by their large sizes and unique skirts. The jigs have synthetic hair, tied in reverse so as to create a "parachute" shape when trolled or jigged. Parachute jigs are usually dressed with large plastic shad bodies.
Tandem rigs come in several forms. The basic tandem rig for striped bass or bluefish consists of 2 jigs attached to a 3 way swivel. The rig can utilize matched jigs, or pair a large jig with a smaller but similar lure. The leader lengths are always staggered, which lessens tangles. Other tandem rigs can include combinations of jigs with spoons, plugs, soft plastics or other lures.
Umbrella rigs have been around for decades, but had a surge of sales when striped bass rebounded along the Atlantic coast in the 90's. These odd looking rigs have 3-6 arms which spread out from a center weight. A snap on the weight allows a connection for the main lure which trails some distance behind the arms.
Teasers can be attached to the arms via rings that are located midway and on the ends. A less complicated variations is a lightweight "mini" 4 arm umbrella which is rigged with a single teaser per arm. Umbrellas are rigged using a variety of components including shad bodies, plastic grubs, surgical hose, bucktail jigs, parachute jigs, swimming plugs and others. In some cases the teasers have hooks, while other setups have a single hook which is the trailing lure.
Spoons are essential lures for striped bass and bluefish. Used for trolling, spoons come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Trolling with spoons is a time honored technique that requires a certain amount of experience. Rigging spoons is critical, with leader length, the use of drails (weights) and proper choice of swivels being important factors.
Speed is a very important variable when fishing spoons. For peak performance, lure speed must be adjusted by watching the rod tip for a tell-tale "thump-thump-pause" action. This pattern occurs at different speeds, depending on lure model, size and other factors. The series of thumps and pauses is created as the spoon wobbles several times and finally makes a complete rotation. A correctly rigged large spoon will wobble 2-4 times before rotating, repeating this action continually. Depending on the size of fish targeted and prevailing sizes of local baitfish, spoons may be chosen from 2-3 inches to enormous models of 12 inches or more.
The depth of spoons are controlled by speed, line type and trolling weights (drails) which are attached in front of the spoon. A 20-30 foot leader connects the spoon to the drail. Some anglers replace inline drails with large jigs which are connected via a 3 way swivel. The jig provides the necessary weight, while acting as an additional lure. These tandem jig-spoon combos can be deadly in some environments.
Plugs are another option for striped bass and bluefish. Plugs vary greatly in size, shape and action but all share a few common aspects that contribute to their effectiveness. Plugs have a hard body, either one piece or jointed. Most plugs today are produced with plastics which are formed in a mold. This process allows lure makers to insert a segment of wire which includes the front eye as well as connection points for one or more hooks.
A few plugs are rigged with a single hook although most are armed with 2 or 3 sets of treble hooks. The depth and action of the plug is determined by its size, shape, weight and other factors. Some plugs have a lip or cupped protrusion on the front which acts as a steering device. Plugs with large, angled lips tend to run at greater depths while other variations have a small, less angled lip which serves makes the lure sway back and forth rather than track downward.
Anglers that troll for striped bass and bluefish often include a deep diving plug in the spread of lures. Lure selection is limited to high quality, sturdy built versions as either species will destroy cheaply designed plugs. Favorite colors for swimming plugs include red and white, silver, chartreuse or blue.
The Atlantic Commercial Fishery for Striped Bass
Landings from the commercial striped bass fishery have been consistently lower than the recreational catch. Commercial landings increased from 63 mt in 1987 to 2,679 mt in 1997 and have remained steady due to quota restrictions. Landings in 2008 were 3,281 mt. Gill nets are the dominant commercial gear used to target striped bass. Other commercial fishing gears include hook and line, pound nets, seines, and trawls.
source: ASMFC press release