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Striped bass is a silvery fish that gets its name from the seven or eight dark, continuous stripes along the side of its body. On the Atlantic coast, striped bass range from St. Lawrence River, Canada to St. Johns River, Florida, although they are most prevalent from Maine to North Carolina. Striped bass tend to move north to nearshore waters of the New England coast during the summer, and south to the North Carolina/Virginia Capes during the winter. Striped bass from southern North Carolina to northern Florida do not undertake coastal migrations. Similarly, striped bass from Nova Scotia are relatively isolated and probably do not migrate after spawning. The east coast migratory population is composed of three major stocks - Hudson, Chesapeake, and Roanoke.

The striped bass stock within Chesapeake Bay is composed of pre-migratory fish, primarily ages 5 and younger, and coastal migratory striped bass from age 2 to more than age 20. 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 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/Virginia Capes.

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. Once a mature female deposits her eggs, they are fertilized by milt ejected from a mature male (age 2 or 3). 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 Chesapeake Bay for two to four years, and then migrate to the Atlantic Ocean. With warming water temperatures in the spring, mature fish start their spawning runs in freshwater rivers and streams to complete their life cycle. Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are the primary spawning and nursery area for up to 70-90% of the Atlantic coast stocks of striped bass. Other important spawning areas include the Hudson River in New York and rivers along the North Carolina coast.

Information provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
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