Striped Bass are often targeted by those who enjoy Chesapeake Bay fishing, and are one of the most popular sportfish in the Mid-Atlantic region. Rockfish, as they’re known on the Bay, can be found from Canada to Florida, all along the Atlantic Coast, and were introduced to the West Coast and can now be found from British Columbia to Mexico.

striped bass caught on chesapeake bay
Striped bass are one of the most popular fish among anglers all across the nation and especially in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Striped Bass History

Since the colonists came over from England the Chesapeake Bay’s fish, specifically stripers, have been an important source of food. The stripers were commonly used for winter stores and as fertilizer for agriculture. In the late 19th century, Dr. Livingston Stone of the U.S. Fish Commission began transporting rockfish from New Jersey to the San Francisco Bay by request of the Fish Commission of California. Since then, they have thrived on the West Coast and have also been introduced into numerous freshwater reservoirs in the nation.

What is a striped bass?

The scientific name of the striped bass is Morone saxatilis. Rockfish are anadromous, meaning that they spawn in freshwater rivers in the spring, then migrate back to saltier waters. Not all stripers migrate though, some are non-migratory and are born and live their adult lives in brackish river systems.

Stripers have seven to eight black stripes that are horizontal down their silver/white bodies. They have two dorsal fins, one with eight to 10 hard spines and the second with 10 to 13 soft rays. The anal fin has three hard spines then seven to 13 soft rays.

Some great resources for more information about stripers can be found at NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay page on striped bass.

striper caught fishing in chesapeake bay with bay bridge in background
It's pretty obvious at a glance how this fish got its name. Some people call them "rockfish" because they tend to gather around where there are rocks in the water.

Record Striped Bass

People love fishing for stripers so much that anglers regularly pull up some large catch in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia – and surely, everyone would love to catch a new record striper. The record striped bass for these Mid-Atlantic states include:

The all-tackle world record striped bass is an 81 pound, 14 ounce fish that was caught in 2011 in Connecticut waters.

Where and When to Find Striped Bass

The best place to find striped bass depends on the season. That said, stripers can be found throughout the Chesapeake Bay and along the Mid-Atlantic’s coastal waters at just about any time of the year. Here are some Chesapeake Bay and Coastal hotspots; click through to the links to find articles on how to go fishing in each specific location.

In early spring, the Chesapeake Bay is catch and release with certain areas strictly closed to all fishing where the striped bass spawn, as to not interrupt the process. Fishing then starts for parts of the open Bay, but there are still significant areas of no fishing and/or only catch and release. As the spring season progresses more and more of the Bay is open to fishing, but select areas that are classified as spawning zones remain closed to fishing until summer.

Maryland and Virginia regulate their waters individually and their seasons don’t match up. The Potomac River, however, is shared by the two states and has its own Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

Here are Maryland’s regulations for catching rockfish.

The Maryland DNR Interactive Regulation map is a great resource for anglers who need help finding when and where stripers will be fished for throughout the year, in that state.

Here’s Virginia’s official regulation page, and here are striped bass fishing regulations in Delaware.

How to Fish for Striped Bass

Catching striped bass can happen in many different ways and which technique you decide to use should changes with the seasons. This video will help you figure out which is best for each different season:

Here’s the basic list of techniques you can try:

Which method is working best at any given time? Stay up to date by checking out our FishTalk Fishing Reports, which are updated every Friday by noon. And check out our basic Striper Fishing page, so you’re ready to hit the water and try some striped bass fishing asap.

-By Maya Rogalski