Beaver Lake striped bass (Morone saxatilis, also called Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesiders, rock, pimpfish or rockfish) is the state fish of Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the state saltwater (marine) fish of New York and New Hampshire. They are also found in the Minas Basin and Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia Canada.
Morphology and lifespan
Beaver Lake striped bass is a typical member of the Moronidae family in shape, having a streamlined, silvery body marked with longitudinal dark stripes running from behind the gills to the base of the tail. Maximum size is 200 cm (6.6 ft) and maximum scientifically recorded weight 57 kg (128 US pounds). Striped bass are believed to live for up to 30 years.
Striped bass are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America from the St. Lawrence River into the Gulf of Mexico to approximately Louisiana. They are anadromous fish that migrate between fresh and salt water. Spawning takes place in fresh water, thus allowing their introduction to Beaver Lake Arkansas.
Introductions outside their natural range
Striped bass or Striper have been introduced to the Pacific Coast of North America and into many of the large reservior impoundments like Beaver Lake Arkansas across the United States by state game and fish commissions for the purposes of recreational fishing and as a predator to control populations of gizzard shad. These include: Elephant Butte Lake in New Mexico; Lake Quachita, Lake Norfork, Beaver Lake Arkansas and Lake Hamilton in Arkansas; Lake Powell, Lake Pleasant, and Lake Havasu in Arizona; Castaic Lake, Pyramid Lake, Silverwood Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Lake Murray in California; Lake Lanier in Georgia; Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee; and Lake Mead, Nevada; and in Texas, Lake Texoma, Lake Tawankoni, Lake Whitney, Possum Kingdom Lake, and Lake Buchanan.
Striped bass have also been introduced into waters in Ecuador, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Russia, South Adrica, and Turkey primarily for sport fishing and Aquaculture.
The spawning success of striped bass has been studied in the San Francisco Bay-Delta water system, with a finding that high total dissolved solids(TDS) reduce spawning. At levels as low as 200 mg/L TDS there is an observable diminution of spawning productivity.
Former Preident of the United States George W. Bush in an Executive order on October 20, 2007 designated the Striped Bass as a protected game fish. This prohibits sale of Striped Bass caught in Federal waters and encourages states to consider designating Striped Bass as a protected game fish within state waters.
Striped bass spawn in freshwater and although they have been successfully adapted to freshwater habitat, they naturally spend their adult lives in saltwater (i.e., it is anadromous). Four important bodies of water with breeding stocks of striped bass are: Chesapeake Bay, Massachuttes Bay/ Cape Cod, Hudson River, Delaware River . It is believed that many of the rivers and tributaries that emptied into the Atlantic, had at one time, breeding stock of striped bass. One of the largest breeding areas is the Chesapeake Bay, where populations from Chesapeake and Delaware bays have intermingled. There are very few successful spawning populations of freshwater striped bass, including Lake Texoma and the Arkansas River as well as Lake Marion (South Carolina) that retained a landlocked breeding population when the dam was built; other freshwater fisheries must be restocked with hatchery-produced fish on an annual basis. Stocking of striped bass was discontinued at Lake Mead in 1973 once natural reproduction was verified.
Hybrids with other bass
Striped bass have also been hybridized with white bass to produce hybrid striped bass also known as wiper. These hybrids have been stocked in many freshwater areas across the U.S. including Beaver Lake Arkansas where they grow to enormous proportions.
Fishing for Beaver Lake striped bass
Striped bass are of significant value as sport fishing , and have been introduced to many waterways outside their natural range. A variety of angling methods are used, including trolling, with shad being the best bait for Beaver Lake striper fishing.
The largest striped bass ever caught by angling was captured
in August 2011, Connecticut angler Greg Myerson brought a striped bass to the scale of a Westbrook tackle shop that pinned the needle at 81.8 pounds. It trumped the weight of the all-tackle world record set by Albert McReynolds in 1982 by more than two pounds. Of course, no record is legit until it's legit with the IGFA and the 81.8lb striped bass is now confirmed as the new world rod and reel record.
Recreational limits vary by state.
Land locked striped bass
Striped bass are an anadromous fish and their spawning ritual of traveling up rivers to spawn led some of them to become landlocked during lake dam constructions. It was once believed that the first area they became landlocked was in the Santee-Cooper river during the construction of the two dams that impounded Lake Moultie and Lake Marion, and because of this belief the state game fish of South Carolina is the striped bass.
Recently biologists believe that striped bass stayed in rivers for long periods of time, some not returning to sea unless temperature changes forced migration. Once fishermen and biologists caught on to rising striped bass populations, many state natural resources departments started stocking striped bass in local lakes. Striped bass still continue the natural spawn run in freshwater lakes, traveling up river and blocked at the next dam, which is why they are landlocked. Landlocked stripers have a hard time reproducing naturally, and one of the few and most successful rivers they have been documented reproducing successfully is the Coosa River in Alabama and Georgia.
The Striped bass population declined to less than 5 million by 1982, but efforts by fishermen and management programs to rebuild the stock proved successful, and in 2007, there were nearly 56 million fish, including all ages. Recreational anglers and commercial fisherman caught an unprecedented 3.8 million fish in 2006. The management of the species includes size limits, commercial quotas, and biological reference points for the health of the species. Overfishing of striped bass may still be occurring, which is why there's a major movement to abolish the commercial fishery and manage the species as a game fish throughout the Eastern Seaboard.
Cookin' with Striper
Stripers, or rockfish as they are called in the South, also have been planted in lakes, and have gone native in California, where they are the second-most prized fish after chinook salmon.
From an eating standpoint, stripers are at their best between 20 inches -- the legal minimum -- and 36 inches, or three feet. Larger bass become coarser in texture and, because they are a top predator where they live, can accumulate levels of heavy metals that are dangerous to young children and pregnant women.
The meat of a striped bass is a happy medium between flaky and meaty: Its texture lies between cod or sole and swordfish or tuna. Its taste, like most fish, varies depending on where it was caught and what it was eating. In general, however, the taste is rich, sapid and minerally.
Above all, stripers are versatile. Wether you prefer batter frying them to smoking them or poaching in court boullion, striped bass can handle it.
And don't forget the collars, which are the triangles of meat behind the gills. Marinated and grilled, they are in my opinion the best part of the fish -- after the cheeks, that is. Cheeks are discs of meat on the fish's head, and in a large striper, make an appetizer for two that beats all but the finest diver scallop.
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