One of my absolute favorite things about working here are the fish feedings. We have three large aquatic homes for our fishy friends (I don’t like to use the word tank, unless talking about military history). There is a saltwater exhibit in the Islamorada Fish Company. Our Trout Stream gets fed every day at 1:30, and people can even help feed the fish if they are there early enough. And the big show takes place at our Main Tank, which gets fed Saturdays and Sundays at 2PM and Tuesday at 6PM. One of my favorite fish to watch during the Main Tank feedings is definitely our striped bass. Those guys SLAM whatever we toss into the tank! They are extremely fast and voracious predators, and just look cool. And for that reason they will be the star of this month’s Fishy Facts blog!
My love for the striped bass goes back years before I even entered my first Bass Pro Shops. For some reason, I had always been keen on catching this one. (Sadly, I still have yet to.) I honestly think it is their impressive size and cool coloring that gets me about them. They are a longer, streamlined fish with mostly silver-gray coloring and distinctive black stripes. They use their streamlined body to reach impressive speeds, which always make for an exciting fight.
Striped bass are believed to be able to live over twenty-five years and on average grow up to 40 inches. The largest (scientifically) recorded weight for one is 126lbs! (I put in there scientifically, because I am sure some old-timer somewhere has caught one larger than that.) They are native to the Atlantic coastline of North America, but have been heavily planted elsewhere. They are anadromous fish, which means they live in both salt and fresh water.
Pretty much since there has been a history of people living near these fishes native area, there has been a history of catching them. They were an extremely important food source for early colonials. The love of these fish has grown with us as a nation from the beginning and the striped bass is now recognized as the fresh water state fish for three states and the salt water state fish for four states.
Like most fish, the striped bass has several common names given to it. These names include: striper, rockfish, rock, linesider and pimpfish.
Striped bass are a prized sport-fish, due their powerful fights and delicious taste. There are numerous ways to fish for these, and is mostly dependent upon the area you are in. I personally love the idea of catching a landlocked striped bass while they slam a boil and then catching one while surf-fishing in the ocean. (A boil is a common term used to explain when a bunch of larger fish start attacking a ball of baitfish towards the surface of the water. With all the activity it looks like the water is boiling. Looking for birds attacking a certain spot on the water is also a good indicator of feeding action.)
Many times with these blogs, we have to cover the current condition and any conservation efforts to protect the fish. Sometimes they are not the most opportunistic. But in this case, we have great news and a perfect example of groups coming together to protect our beloved fish. In 1982 the striped bass population had declined to below 5 million. Thanks to multiple sources of resources, effort and support the population grew back to 56 million striped bass by 2007! This is a clear example of how everyone can work together for something bigger than themselves.
Former Fishy Facts: