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Striped Bass

Striped BassScientific Name

Morone saxatilis

Other Common Names

striper, rockfish


True bass family. Streamlined, elongate body; coloration shades from dark olive above through silvery sides to a white belly; 7 to 8 prominent unbroken black stripes originate behind the head and extend to the tail; more prominent than on the white bass. Two spines on the gill cover; two patches of teeth on tongue. Ten to 15 lb. fish are common with 30 to 40 lb. + fish landed each season.

Best Fishing

Lakes: Smith Mountain, Buggs Island, Anna, Claytor, Gaston, Leesville and Western Branch. Rivers: Staunton/Roanoke and all tidal rivers.

Fishing Techniques

Heavy baitcasting, spincasting or spinning outfits with a good backbone and 15 to 25 pound test line. Live bait includes large minnows or gizzard or threadfin shad. Large feathered or plastic jig combinations, spoons, crankbaits that imitate shad or other fish and bucktails. Trolling, drift fishing, jump fishing or deep jigging are usual fishing methods.

Feeding Habits

Like other temperate bass, they travel in schools, feeding in open water on smaller schooling fish, such as gizzard shad. They also eat a variety of insects and aquatic organisms.


By nature, stripers are anadromous, spending most of their adult lives in saltwater, making spring “spawning runs” to freshwater tidal rivers. However, this species has been successfully stocked in freshwater lakes, and landlocked stripers have been established in several lakes around the state.

Spawning Habits

Each spring anadromous stripers move from the ocean and Chesapeake Bay to spawn in freshwater reaches of tidal rivers. Landlocked stripers migrate up tributary rivers of larger reservoirs to spawn, often just below dams or upstream obstructions. When water temperatures are from 55° to 60°F, the females deposit their semi-buoyant eggs in the current. They are fertilized as they are being released, and they stay afloat until the fry hatch out.

How DWR’s Work Benefits Striped Bass

Striped Bass & Hybrid Striped Bass Management Plan