How Far and Fast Can Striped Bass Move?

From the Maryland Fisheries Resource Office

Question:  How far and how fast can Striped Bass move?

Answer:   Reference the example of a fish that was tagged this spring in the Potomac River and was caught by an angler in Cape Cod Canal this fall.  Originally tagged on April 2, it was recaptured on Sept. 26.  This means that the fish traveled over 600 miles of coastline in only 177 days, which is a rate of at least 3.4 miles per day!  


Striped bass (rockfish) are migratory fish which spend most of their life in bays and the ocean, but travel up tidal freshwater rivers in the spring to spawn.  This type of fish which migrates from saltwater into freshwater to spawn is called anadromous.  In addition to its annual spawning migration, striped bass move up and down the coast seasonally.  A majority of the population spends the warmer months off the coast of New England and the cooler months in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages a central database which stores coast-wide tagging information.  State and federal partners have tagged almost 500,000 striped bass using external anchor tags (spaghetti tags) since 1985.  Over 85,000 tagged fish have been caught and reported.  The information gathered in this database has been instrumental in the restoration of striped bass.