California Striped Bass Association LogoWest Delta Chapter

CSS Submit Button Rollover


The California Striped Bass


Striped BassFor those of you just getting started in the thrill of striper fishing, here are a few facts from the Department of Fish and Game. Stripers were introduced to California from the East Coast in 1879. They were transported by rail and planted near Martinez, California. The following year another planting was introduced and the striper population exploded. Stripers became so plentiful that early in the 1900's a commercial fishery developed but was eventually discontinued in the 1930's.

They were so abundant that in the middle 1960's they were the thrill of all Delta Fishermen. They are migratory. Most adults, after spawning in the San Joaquin Delta and upper Sacramento River, move into brackish and salt water for summer and fall. Many feed from the San Francisco Bay to Tomales Bay. Food in the San Francisco Bay is mainly anchovies, shiner perch and herring. In the Delta area threadfin shad and smaller fish are the main food. In late fall/winter some fish move upstream to the fresh water in the Delta and lower Sacramento River. Stripers spawn in water 61-69 degrees from April through mid-June. About one third of the spawning takes place in the San Joaquin River between the Antioch Bridge and the mouth of Middle River. The other two thirds spawn in the Sacramento River between Sacramento and Colusa. These rivers are critical to the spawn

The Last 40 Years

In the early 1960's the striped bass count was approximately 3 million adult fish. By the early 1990's the striped bass count was approximately 775 thousand adult fish. About 30% of these fish were hatchery reared

Problems Affecting Striped Bass Populations, Listed In General Order Of Importance:

• Delta Water Diversions: The State Water Project and the Federal Central Valley Project
• Reduced Delta Outflows
• Water Pollution, Toxic Chemicals and Trace Elements
• Dredging and Soil Disposal
• Illegal Take and Poaching
• Exotic Aquatic Organisms
• Bay Fill Projects
• Commercial Bay Shrimp Fishery
• Annual Summer Die-Off of Bass
• Disease and Parasites

Working Toward The Solution

CSBA was instrumental in obtaining legislation which authorized the STRIPED BASS STAMP. This stamp supported the striper hatchery program among other projects. Millions of hatchery-reared striped bass were released in the Sacramento/San Joaquin delta system. In 1992 the planting program was discontinued by order of the Director of the Department of Fish and Game due to possible effect on winter-run salmon. CSBA and many other experts did not agree with this order. CSBA's members got together with the "NO FISH - NO STAMP" petitions and the stamp was pulled. However, The California Department of Fish and Game implemented the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp (Senate Bill 692). Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, all anglers fishing in specified waters in the Delta, the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers including major tributaries and the San Francisco Bay east of the Golden Gate Bridge were required to possess the $5 (plus any applicable tax) stamp. The Bay-Delta Stamp superseded the Striped Bass Stamp. The Bay-Delta stamp was repealed Jan. 1, 2010.

An Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory was opened at the Elk Grove, CA hatchery. This lab generated information for setting water quality standards and is partially funded by the remaining funds from the Striped Bass Stamp.NSome other programs that were funded by the remaining funds from the striped ass stamp were:

• Increased enforcement of striped bass regulations
• Provided game wardens with different types of special equipment to be used for striped bass regulation enforcement.
• Fund studies of the striped bass, plus many other programs


Growing rapidly in early life, striped bass average 5-10 pounds, though they will often reach weights in the 30-50 pound range. The maximum size that a freshwater striped bass can achieve is unknown, although the largest sport caught freshwater striper is 67 pound 8 ounces caught in 1992 in O'Neil Fore bay, Merced County, CA. The all- tackle record for the species is 78 pounds 8 ounces caught in 1982 off Atlantic City, New Jersey, although larger ones have been reportedly taken commercially. Striped bass normally live 10-12 years, though most fish more than 11 years old and more than 39 inches long are females. The largest striped bass ever reported was a 125 pounder believed to be between 29-31 years old.

The Federal Government started water diversion in the 1950's with the development of the Delta-Mendota Canal. At that time striper fishing began a noticeable decline.

In the early 1960's the State of California built the California Aqueduct, diverting delta water to Southern California. With this added water diversion striped bass began to decline. From over three million adult bass in the 1950's to fewer than seven hundred fifty thousand in the early 1970's prompted dedicated fishermen to unite and form the California Striped Bass Association. From a hand-full of fishermen in 1974 to currently seven chapters and several thousand fishermen all dedicated to the goal of returning the striped bass to its historic levels.


Striped bass are found in saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water, though they are most abundant in saltwater. They are anadromous and migrate in saltwater along coastal inshore environs and tidal tributaries. They are often found around piers, jetties, surf troughs, rips, flats and rocks. A common regional name for stripers is "rock fish" and indeed their scientific name, saxatilis, means "rock dweller", although they do not necessarily spend most of their lives in association with rocks. They run far upstream during spawning runs and can also be found in channels of medium to large rivers at that time. The striped bass is entirely a coastal species off the coast of the Carolinas and southward, never found more than a few miles offshore, along the entire Atlantic coast they are rarely caught more than a short distance from shore except during migration.
Today, along the Pacific coast, they are abundant in the Bay area and extend from Washington to California, some California fish migrate north to Oregon and are occasionally found off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Life History/Behavior

Striped bass males are sexually mature by their second or third year, while females are sexually mature sometime between their eighth and ninth year, males measuring at least 7 inches and females as small as 34 inches are known to spawn. Spawning takes place in fresh or slightly brackish waters from mid-February in Florida to late June or July in Canada and from mid-March to late July in California when the water temperature is between 10 to 23 degrees C; peak-spawning activity is observed between 15 and 20 degrees C. They prefer the mouths of freshwater tributary streams where the current is strong enough to keep the eggs suspended.

Females can carry 180,00 to 4 million eggs, depending on their size and when mating each female is accompanied by several smaller males. The spawning fish swim near the surface of the water, turning on their side and rolling and splashing, this display is sometimes called a "rock fight". The semi-buoyant eggs are released and drift with the current until they hatch two to three days later, depending on the water temperature.

The young move downstream to the estuarine portions of the rivers in the late summer or early fall. As young and as adults, striped bass move in schools except for the larger fish, which either travel alone or with a few other of similar size. Most striped bass along the Atlantic coast are involved in two types of migration, an upriver spawning migration from late winter to early spring and coastal migrations that are apparently not associated with spawning activity.

Food And Feeding Habits

A voracious, carnivorous and opportunistic predator, the striped bass feeds heavily on small fishes, including large quantities of herring, menhaden, flounder, alewives, silversides, eel and smelt as well as invertebrates such as worms, squid and crabs. young striped bass feed on zooplankton and quickly graduate to freshwater shrimp and midge larvae. Freshwater striped bass prefer shad, herring, minnow, amphipods and mayflies. There has been controversy over the affect of freshwater stripers on other game fish. most notably largemouth bass, but bass and other popular sport fish have not been found to be major components in the diet of freshwater stripers. Feeding times vary, though many anglers believe that stripers are more active nocturnal feeders and are more effective at catching them in low-light conditions and after dark. Stripers are unlike some anadramous fish during their spawning run in that they will feed while migrating to their spawning grounds, although they reportedly cease feeding shortly before spawning.

Our Motto

"Dedicated to the Preservation, Protection and Enhancement of Striped Bass", means that although we enjoy our sport fishing, we want to protect and enhance our fishery to insure that future generations will have a chance of catching this great sport fish....the STRIPED BASS.


California Striped Bass Association
West Delta Chapter
P.O.Box 2691
Antioch, California 94531-2691


Copyright © 2014-2016 California Striped Bass Association, West Delta Chapter. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Statement
R & D Web, Dynamic Website Creation