Female striped bass can mature as early as age 4, however, it takes several years (age 8 or older) for spawning females to reach full productivity.
Spawning is triggered by an increase in water temperature and generally occurs in April, May and early June.
Once a female broadcasts her eggs in the current, they are fertilized by milt ejected from a mature male (age 2 or 3). Depending on the size of the female, one female can lay from 14,000 (3 pounder) to 3,000,000eggs (10 pounder). A thirty pound female is capable of producing as many as five million eggs. In a fast moving current, the eggs hatch out at a considerable distance downstream from the spawning place. At the time of hatching, the tiny transparent fish, less than 1/4 inch long emerges with a heavy yolk sac attached. It derives nourishment from this sac. The fry at this stage is at the mercy of the water currents. Within four to five days, the yolk sac is absorbed and the fry begins to swim and feed on small crustaceans.
The fertilized eggs need to drift downstream with currents to hatch into larvae. A flow velocity in the river of approximately one-foot per second is required to keep the eggs afloat. If the egg sinks to the bottom, it's chances of hatching are reduced because the sediments reduce oxygen exchange between the egg and the surrounding water. This need for flowing water to hatch is the reason Striped Bass don't naturally reproduce in Reservoirs and lakes across America and must be stocked by the Fisheries Department of each state where Striped Bass are located.
Striped Bass males usually reach sexual maturity at two years. Females can reach maturity at four years. Nearly all of the females are mature at five years of age when they reach a weight of six pounds or a length of twenty-three inches.
Eggs hatch 29 to 80 hours after fertilization, depending on the water temperature, The larvae's survival depends primarily upon events during the first three weeks of life.
Eggs and newly hatched larvae require sufficient turbulence to remain suspended.
The larvae begin feeding on microscopic animals during their downstream journey.
The mouth forms in two to four days, and the eyes are not pigmented.
The larvae are nourished by a large yolk mass. Eggs produced by females weighing 10lbs or more contain greater amounts of yolk and have a greater probability of hatching.
Larvae begin feeding on their own about five days after hatching.
Striped bass larvae feed primarily on zooplankton in both larval and mature stages, and caducean (water fleas).
Juvenile stripers eat insect larvae, larval fish, mysids (shrimplike crustaceans) and amphipods (tiny scavenging crustaceans)
Adults are piscivorous, or fish eaters. soft ray fish like shad make up their primary diet. They do not like to eat spiny fish for the most part and therefore are not a threat to other species of fish like Black bass and Sand Bass. It has been shown the the population of competing fish DO NOT suffer as a direct result of Striped bass eating the competing fish's fry. The extra shad being consumed by striped bass has also been shown NOT to adversely affect the population of competing fish.
The rumors that Stripers deplete the population of other fish is just a MYTH and has not been verified by any biological survey.
The largest striped bass ever recorded was a 125 pound female from North Carolina, in 1891.
The oldest ever recorded was 31 years of age.
The average 6-year-old female striped bass produces 500,000 eggs, while a 15-year-old can produce over three million eggs.
How Much Does a "KEEPER" Lake Murray Striper Weigh & How Old Is It ?
18 inches 2.4 lbs 2 years
21 inches 3.8 lbs 3 years
24 inches 5.2 lbs 4 years
27 inches 7.4 lbs 5 years
30 inches 10.2 lbs 7 years
NOTE: Female stripers typically weigh 1 to 1.5 lbs more than a male fish the same age.
Lake Murray, SC