The striped bass is the largest member of the sea bass family, often called "temperate" or "true" bass to distinguish it from species such as largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass which are actually members of the sunfish family Centrarchidae. Although Morone is of unknown derivation, saxatilis is Latin meaning "dwelling among rocks." As with other true basses, the dorsal fin is clearly separated into spiny and soft-rayed portions. Striped bass are silvery, shading to olive-green on the back and white on the belly, with seven or eight uninterrupted horizontal stripes on each side of the body. Younger fish may resemble white bass (Morone chrysops). However, striped bass have two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue, whereas white bass have one tooth patch. Striped bass have two sharp points on each gill cover, and white bass have one. Additionally, the second spine on the anal fin is about half the length of the third spine in striped bass, and about two-thirds the length of the third spine in white bass.
Striped bass are the fourth most preferred species among licensed Texas anglers. It is estimated that the economic impact of striper fishing in the Lake Texoma area alone totals well in excess of $20 million. Stripers are often captured using artificial lures that imitate small fish, such as silver spoons. Deep running lures can also be effective, as may live bait, or cut bait. In Texas, stripers in excess of 50 pounds have been landed. Although specimens exceeding 100 pounds have been caught in saltwater, to date a 67.5-pounder was the largest individual reported from inland waters.
The striped bass is anadromous, native to a variety of habitats including shores, bays, and estuaries. In coastal populations, individuals may ascend streams and travel as much as 100 miles inland to spawn. There are land-locked populations that complete their entire life cycle in freshwater. These generally ascend tributaries of the lakes or reservoirs where they spend their lives. Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures approach 60°F. Typically, one female is accompanied by several males during the spawning act. Running water is necessary to keep eggs in motion until hatching. In general, at least 50 miles of stream is required for successful hatches. Stripers may reach a size of 10 to 12 inches during the first year. Males are generally mature in two years, and females in three to four. Adults are primarily piscivorous, feeding predominantly on members of the herring family such as gizzard shad and threadfin shad. Alewife and glut herring are often found in their stomachs in the northern states.
The striped bass is a coastal species that moves far upstream during spawning migrations in coastal rivers. The native range is along the Atlantic coast east of the Appalachian Mountains from New Brunswick south to Florida and west into Louisiana. The species has been introduced at scattered locations throughout the central US. There have also been introductions as far west as the Colorado River in Arizona, and at various sites in California. Although not native to Texas, the species has been stocked in a number of reservoirs. Because stream flow is required for a successful hatch, most reservoir populations are not self-sustaining and must be maintained through stocking. One notable exception is Lake Texoma along the Red River in northeastern Texas.