Striped Bass

Striper, Rockfish

Morone saxatilis

Color: Dark green olive to dark blue on the tip, with silvery grey sides and white belly. Seven to eighth dark horizontal stripes.

Size:    Averages 20 to 30 inches long, weighing approximately 5 pounds. Can grow to 5 feet long and weigh 70 to 80 pounds.

Habitat:          Open water along rocky shores, sandy beaches, salt ponds, rivers

Seasonal Appearance:           Early April to late fall; migrate south during winter

Sensitivity to Human Action







Distinguishing Features and Behaviors:

             One of the most widely recognized fish in Narragansett Bay is the striped bass. The body of the striped bass is thick and stout and is lined with seven to eight narrow horizontal stripes, the highest being its most distinctive. The striped bass has two well-developed dorsal fins, one spiny and one soft-rayed, and a wide, forked tail. The mouth is large with small teeth, and its lower jaw protrudes slightly.

            This fish is a powerful swimmer and is able to swim in harsh surf environments. Most striped bass travel in large schools, except for the very large fish, which travel solo. For the first two years of life, striped bass live in small groups and are often called “schoolies”. Female fish grow larger than males and are referred to as “cows”. Most of the bass longer than 30 inches are females.

            Also called stripers, striped bass feed on many species of finfish, including alewives, menhaden, flounders, and silversides, as well as many species of invertebrates, including lobsters, crabs, clams, squid, and worms.

            The striped bass is an anadromous fish, meaning they migrate from salt water to fresher waters for spawning. They undertake long migrations down the Atlantic coast to spawn each spring and migrate up the coast during warmer summer months. It is during these northern summer migrations after spawning that they appear in Narragansett Bay. Many of the individuals seen seasonally in New England waters are believed to have originated in fresh waters in the Chesapeake Bay and Hudson River.


Relationship to People:

          The striped bass is one of the most highly prized salt-water game fish in Narragansett Bay. Most stripers are caught by recreational anglers, with many caught by commercial rod and reel as well.  Stripers are a delicious food fish that reproduce well in hatcheries and are marketed commercially.

            The striped bass population in New England has undergone periods of abundance and decline due to overfishing and degraded spawning habitats. In 1986, a moratorium was placed on all striped bass fishing in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, due to evidence of a sharp decline in the population. This moratorium led to the creation of strict management measures, including minimum sizes and quotas. Stock sizes appear to be rebuilding as a result.