Where and when do striped bass spawn?
Striped bass (also known as Rock Fish) is an anadromous species. The term anadromous means “up running” and is used to refer to fish that spend part of their lives in the ocean but move into fresh water to spawn.
The striped bass stock within the Chesapeake Bay is composed of pre-migratory fish -- primarily ages 5 and younger -- and coastal migratory striped bass aged 2 to 20 or older. Mature resident and migratory striped bass move into tidal freshwater in the late winter and spring to spawn. After spawning, migratory fish return to the Atlantic coast. Most spend the summer and early fall months in middle New England near-shore waters. During the late fall and early winter, coastal striped bass migrate south to winter off the North Carolina and Virginia Capes.
Spawning is triggered by an increase in water temperature and generally occurs in April, May and early June in Chesapeake Bay. The fertilized eggs drift downstream with currents and eventually hatch into larvae. The larvae begin feeding on microscopic animals during their downstream journey. After their arrival in the nursery areas, located in tidal reaches of the spawning rivers, they mature into juveniles. They remain in the Chesapeake Bay for two to four years, and then migrate to the Atlantic Ocean.
Anglers can provide important data to help DNR monitor populations by reporting their catches at www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/survey/sbsurveyintro.shtml.
Harry Hornick, Project Leader
Photo of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) courtesy of
For more information: