Striped Bass

Striped bass side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Morone saxatilis
Moronidae (temperate basses) in the order Perciformes (perch-like fishes)

The striped bass is a silvery, elongated fish with prominent dark, horizontal stripes along the sides. The stripes are typically not offset or broken, and typically 3–5 extend from behind the head to the base of the tail. The soft and spiny dorsal fins are separate. The gill cover has a very sharp gill plate. The teeth on the upper surface of the tongue are usually in two parallel patches.

Similar species: Hybrids between the striped bass and white bass are stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation in many impoundments around the state. These fish share characteristics of both parent species. They superficially resemble white bass, but they have 2 patches of teeth on the tongue very close together, or else a single distinct tooth patch. Hybrids also achieve a larger size than white bass, exceeding a weight of 5 pounds.

Other Common Names

Total length: 26–40 inches; weight: 5–20 pounds. Record striped bass over 60 pounds have been caught in our state.

Where To Find
image of Striped Bass distribution map

Lake of the Ozarks, Norfork Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and occasionally the Osage, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers.

Primarily a marine species native to the Atlantic Coast of North America, the striped bass has been successfully stocked into numerous reservoirs throughout the United States. The species prefers cool, well-oxygenated water and cannot tolerate poor water quality.

During the fall to spring months, striped bass can be found throughout a reservoir. However, during summer months the fish congregates in the cool, deep water near the thermocline, the transition between surface and deep water.

Numerous studies throughout the United States reveal shad (gizzard and threadfin) and other fish species are the striped bass’s predominant foods. Striped bass adults will also occasionally eat crayfish and other prey.

Uncommon game species.

The temperate bass family (Moronidae) to which this species belongs comprises some 6 to 8 species (depending on which authority is consulted) that used to be included in the temperate perch (or sea bass, or "true bass") family (Percichthyidae). Missouri's other basses (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), grouped with the sunfishes, are in a different family.

Life Cycle

Adults spawn in the spring, usually migrating to the flowing waters of tributary streams. Due to specific spawning requirements, very few self-sustaining populations are found in reservoirs and artificial stocking supports most fisheries. These fish are fast growing, often reaching 24 inches by their fourth year of life. The species is generally found in open water and in small to large, continuously moving schools. It is believed the fish can live up to 30 years.

A large number of anglers prefer striped bass because of its large growth potential and powerful fighting qualities. Many anglers also like the flavorful flesh.

Due their large size potential, striped bass are capable of preying on gizzard shad, which can grow too large to be eaten by white bass and other predatory fish, and keeping their populations in check.

Media Gallery
Similar Species
About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.