Striped bass have been a part of the fishing scene at Lake Lanier for more than thirty years, but these big linesided fish still retain an air of mystery to many anglers. As a fishing guide, I am in constant pursuit of these huge saltwater predators, and my customers always bombard me with questions. Therefore, I have assembled a list of the most-frequently asked questions about stripers and the answers:
WHERE DO SALTWATER STRIPERS SPAWN?
Striped bass make springtime spawning runs up into freshwater rivers, and then return to the saltwater after they spawn.
HOW DID STRIPERS BECOME LANDLOCKED IN FRESHWATER?
Though biologists were aware that striped bass were on a spawning run up into the Cooper River in South Carolina when they closed the dam on the 170,000 acre Santee-Cooper Reservoir in the spring of 1941, they just assumed that the stripers would die. After World War II, however, it was discovered that the striped bass were flourishing and reproducing in the huge lake. That revelation led to striped bass being transplanted in other freshwater impoundments around the country.
WHY DON’T STRIPERS REPRODUCE IN EVERY LAKE?
Most lakes don’t have enough free-flowing river running into the lake at the proper temperature of 65 degrees to allow a successful spawn.
DOES LIGHT BOTHER STRIPED BASS?
Yes! striped bass are repelled by any strong light source. However, even on a sunny day, stripers will continue feeding by using deeper water as shade.
HOW FAST DO STRIPERS GROW IN FRESHWATER?
Within two years, most stripers will weigh 3 to 4 pounds, then double in weight for each of the next four years, but only add 3 to 4 pounds per year for the rest of their life, which could be up to twenty years.
DO STRIPERS MOVE VERY MUCH IN LAKES?
Numerous tests have been made by biologists with radio transmitters. In every case, striped bass have been shown to cover great distances. In fact, as much as fifty miles has been recorded in one day’s time.
WHAT IS A STRIPERS FAVORITE FOOD?
Plentiful, natural baitfish are always the stripers main diet in any water. Availability is the only distinction the big fish make. In Lake Lanier, that usually consists of blueback herring, threadfin shad, and gizzard shad.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO FIND AND CATCH BAITFISH?
Feeder creeks are the best places to find and catch suitable baitfish. Especially those that are more fertile.
CAN STRIPERS BE KEPT ALIVE IN A NORMAL BOAT LIVEWELL?
Unless one has an enormous tank in their boat, striped bass will not survive. One should put them on ice immediately, or carefully release them as soon as possible.
ARE STRIPERS GOOD TO EAT?
Striped bass are excellent to eat provided they are kept on ice, dressed quickly, and cooked properly.
HOW BIG DO STRIPED BASS GROW?
Specimen of striped bass in excess of 100 pounds have been netted in saltwater, and biologists have recorded 70 pound stripers in freshwater. The current record at Lake Lanier is 47 pounds.
These are but a few of the more common questions, but it would be easy to write a book on all the questions I have been asked as a fishing guide. It is obvious that the interest in striped bass fishing is growing, and will continue to produce a myriad of new questions in the future.