The striped bass – or rockfish– is Maryland’s official state fish and our most important commercial and recreational fish species. It can grow up to 60 inches and gets its name from the seven or eight dark, continuous stripes along its silvery body. Striped bass are found along the Atlantic coast from Canada to Florida, most prevalent from Maine to North Carolina.
Our Bay and its tributaries are the primary spawning and nursery area for 70 to 90 percent of Atlantic coast striped bass stocks. Triggered by an increase in water temperature, mature adults migrate into the headwaters of the Chesapeake’s rivers and streams to spawn in early spring, then head back into the Atlantic to summer in cooler waters off the New England, before heading south in the fall. Juveniles remain in the Bay for two to five years before migrating out into the Atlantic Oceans. Females do not reach full productivity until at least 8 years of age.
The striped bass recreational catch record for the Bay is 67 pounds, 8 ounces, but the largest striped bass ever recorded was 125 pounds, caught of the North Carolina coast in 1891! The oldest ever recorded was 31 years of age, and striped bass tagged in our Bay have been recaptured over 1,000 miles away.
The Atlantic striped bass management program has enjoyed success like no other, having rebuilt stocks from a historic low of about 20 million pounds -- which prompted a 5-year moratorium from 1984 to 1990 -- to an historic high of 160 million pounds.
Anglers can provide important data to help DNR monitor populations by reporting their catches at www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/survey/sbsurveyintro.shtml . The Bay’s largest freshwater turtle occurs throughout North America, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. While known for its aggressive personality and tough jaws -- which can inflict dangerous wounds when provoked -- the snapping turtle is generally not vicious unless disturbed outside of its aquatic habitat.
Illustration of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)
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