American Oceans

Striped Bass

Commonly known as the Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis is a predatory fish localized to the East Coast. The striped bass has several other nicknames, including bass, rockfish, striper, and linesider.

Striped Bass Morone saxatilis

With a unique pattern of horizontal crosshatched lines across its body, this fish is a natural hunter with an opportunistic diet of anchovies, menhadens, crabs, squids, and worms.

They are a popular dish in many states, making them the state fish of several places along the East Coast.   

Characteristics & Appearance

Sturdy, wide, and heavy, striped bass are larger fish known for their dark colors and stripes across their body with a shiny white underbelly. 

Weight & Length

Striped bass can grow exceptionally big, with the bigger breeds reaching 5 to 6 feet in length and 77 to 125 pounds when left to grow.

fully-grown striped bass weight carried by person

However, on average, most fully-grown striped bass clock in around two to three feet in length and 10 to 30 pounds.

Physical Characteristics & Color

The scales of striped bass come in various colors, such as green, olive, black, brown, and blue. The underside of these bass is silver or white with a shiny, iridescent sheen.

striped bass with blue color of bodies

Their bodies are usually wide and heavy, with a forked fin at the end. Given how large they can grow, they progressively grow longer and wider as they age, but cap out around 6 feet in length.

The defining feature of striped bass is the horizontal lines from gills to tail. These come in a set of 7 or more dark lines and slowly become lighter down the body.

Their eyes are usually a copper or orange color. The heads of these bass are usually the color of their top scales. They feature wide mouths and blue-tipped fins.  

Lifespan & Reproduction

Striped bass have three stages of life: larvae, juvenile, and adult. Male striped bass reaches sexual maturity around 2 to 3 years of age.

striped bass move location to breed for reproduction

Females take double the amount of time, averaging at around 4 to 8 years of age for sexual maturity. They are semi-anadromous, meaning they may return to a different location to breed or can stay where they are.

From April to early June, striped bass will either move back to their birthplace or find a new location to breed.

Here, the female will have up to seven males pursuing her. The female bass will lay her eggs on close to the shore of brackish or freshwater, where the males will fertilize the eggs once they are laid.

After the eggs are fertilized, the adult striped bass will leave the eggs to hatch on their own. Eggs will hatch within 2 to 3 days in their larvae form.

They will grow close to their birthplace for the summer before moving when they become juveniles. They will be in their juvenile stage for up to 2 years and stay close to where they are born before moving away to breed. In total, striped bass lives from 10 to 30 years.


These basses generally live from Canada down to Florida into Louisiana. Due to being introduced to lakes and rivers by humans, striped bass can also be found inland and on the West Coast as well as the East coast.

Because these fish are commonly caught for consumption, state committees have been established to manage and maintain their habitats.

The names and roles of these commissions vary depending on the state. Overall, striped bass is most common in Pennsylvania and Maryland, where some of the largest populations of bass breed and live.

Where Do Striped Bass Live?

Striped bass spend most of their time either in rivers or in the ocean just off the coast. Since they move between fresh water and saltwater for breeding, they will usually stay in saltwater for most months before embarking on their annual trip to mate.

Typically, striped bass will stay around a particular area. They will only leave if they are in mating season or to move to deeper channels during the colder seasons.

Food & Diet

The striped bass is a predator, eating small fish, worms, squids, crustaceans, and anchovies. However, it is not at the top of the food chain, being prey to several larger fish, sharks, and fish-eating birds.

Striped bass is also common for human consumption, making humans another predator this fish must watch out for.

What Do Striped Bass Eat?

Striped basses are opportunistic predators, meaning that their main diet contains whatever is available at the time.

Depending on the season, there will be various types of smaller fish or ocean life available. Striped basses will switch from crabs to worms to squids depending on what they find in their local area.

This makes the striped bass an important and key member of many ecosystems since they can keep multiple populations in check.

Despite this, smaller fish such as menhaden and anchovies are a critical part of the striped bass diet. These fish are readily available and can be easy for the bass to catch.

Their main food sources—crabs, anchovies, and squids—are often located in saltwater, so striped bass spends much of their time around these locations to make sure they are eating enough.

Catching techniques used by the bass come in a variety of ways, such as grouping around a small fish family and closing in or using speed to quickly eat what they can.

They do not ever stop eating, with most of the day spent catching or attempting to catch their meals.

However, since striped bass is also prey for animals higher on the food chain, they must balance their hunting with being alert for other predators.

Threats & Predators

Like many fish, striped bass is not the highest on the food chain. Their predators come in the form of larger fish, such as sharks, and fish-eating birds.

They are also popular in human dishes, so they are fished frequently. Apart from the food chain, striped bass is affected by global warming and pollution.

Human Threats

Humans are a major predator of striped bass since this fish is sold in stores and at restaurants. They are often caught at recreational fisheries or at specific times during the year, depending on the state’s commission guidelines.

However, they were not always available. In the 1970s and 1980s, the striped bass population was at an all-time low, leading to major changes in how they were fished. As of 2019, they are back to an above-average population.

Climate Change & Global Warming

One of the major impacts of global warming is the increase of temperature in the waters where striped bass live.

This can cause the death of multiple striped bass over a short amount of time, and there is very little to do to cool off the water.

Along with this, oxygen levels of the water changing and yearly precipitation levels can also affect how the striped bass handles their environment.   


The striped bass has several predators, but the most common ones are larger fish and fish-eating birds. They are susceptible to possible attacks from sharks as well.

All of these predators come from around or above the bass, making it hard for them to hunt for their food sources.

Other Threats

Diseases between striped bass can spread at a quick rate, making it hard for any action to be taken against the illness.

Pollution from nearby cities and towns is another major problem for striped bass. Many of these problems come from waste being dumped into the bass’s waters or from urbanization taking over previously safe areas of water for the fish.

Conservation Status

Currently, the striped bass is a safe species—it has an overall large population and positive rates of breeding and new fish.

However, this wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s and 1970s, overfishing and extreme waste caused a rapid population decline.

Since then, measures by the local governments have led to the species growing back to its former glory.

Fun Facts About Striped Bass

  • Striped bass can handle both saltwater and freshwater.
  • They have several names, such as bass, rockfish, striper, and linesider.
  • The striped bass is the state fish for Maryland, South Carolina, and Rhode Island.
  • The striped bass is the saltwater state fish for New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York.
  • The oldest striped bass on record was 31 years old.
  • The heaviest striped bass on record was from North Carolina, weighing in at 125 pounds.

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