Striped bass is found from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to the St. John’s River in Florida. Striped bass spawn in coastal sounds and estuaries. Wintering grounds span from Cape Henry, VA to Cape Hatteras, NC. Juveniles remain in inland waters for two to four years before migrating to the Atlantic Ocean. Adult striped bass spend most of their adult life in estuaries or the ocean and can live up to 30 years. Striped bass grow to lengths of up to five feet and weigh anywhere from 55 to 77 pounds. They typically feed on plants and other fish, usually menhaden and river herring.
Striped bass can be commercially harvested in coastal and ocean waters out to three miles. From three to 200 miles offshore, federal law only allows recreational anglers to fish for striped bass. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission establishes recreational and commercial quotas for striped bass along the east coast, and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) manages these quotas by proclamation.
Although North Carolina is home to several different striped bass populations, the Albermarle Sound–Roanoke River area supports the largest spawning grounds in the state. Other populations are found in the Neuse, Tar–Pamlico and Caper Fear Rivers. For more information on the stock assessments of striped bass in North Carolina, go to NCDMF.
Contributed by Barry Nash