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What’s the Difference Between Female and Male Striped bass?

What's the Difference Between Female and Male Striped bass?
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Striped bass lives on the East coast from Canada’s St. Lawrence River to Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. Striped bass lives in the ocean but reproduce in freshwater, making them anadromous.

They can be caught using rod and reel or, for fishery purposes, by bottom trawling. Anglers love striped bass because: they’ll take both artificial luresOpens in a new tab. and natural bait; they can be caught from shore or boats; they’re powerful for their size; they can grow large; and their firm, mild flesh is delicious.

They’re believed to live up to 30 years, and average 20 to 35 inches in length and five to 20 pounds in weight. What’s not to love?

There’s one common question that comes up a lot with striped bass, though. And that is: what is the difference between female and male striped bass? How do you tell them apart?

There is no way to identify the difference between a female and male striped bass externally reliably. Striped bass does not display sexual dimorphism except during the spawning season. Spawning season and anecdotal tips aside, distinguishing between male and female striped bass requires dissection or gonadal biopsy.

What is the difference between female and male striped bass?

Striped bass does not exhibit sexual dimorphism. Sexual dimorphism means that male and female members of the same species show differences in appearance even apart from their sexual organs.

For example, species in which males and females are different colors, sizes, or shapes are sexually dimorphic.

But not striped bass. Male and female striped bass do not — except for their sexual organs and even though there are some anecdotal ideas about telling them apart — look any different.

This issue was addressed in the 1965 paper entitled Sex Determination of Live Striped Bass, Roccus saxatilis (Walbaum), by Biopsy Technique.

According to the article, there is no easy and precise way to tell the difference between male and female striped bass because they are not sexually dimorphic except during spawning season, which we’ll come to.

Dissecting striped bass to get a close look at their sexual organs will help you tell females from males. That’s not what anglers are looking for, and it’s hardly practical anyway.

The 1965 paper did discuss a technique for distinguishing between male and female striped bass without dissecting them. The method was called a gonadal biopsy.

A gonadal biopsy requires taking a sample from the fish’s urogenital tract using serrated alligator-jawed forceps and conducting tissue sampling in a laboratory.

According to the study, it’s a pretty reliable way of determining the sex of striped bass — especially as they get older. But it’s way beyond what anglers are looking for.

During the spawning season, there are some apparent differences between male and female striped bass. Some anglers have collected clues and rules of thumb for distinguishing between stripers’ sexes, and they’re worth it.

Keep in mind; they’re just rules of thumb. Certainty would require dissection or alligator-jawed forceps. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with a little mystery.

How to identify male striped bass?

  • During spawning season, you may be able to squeeze milt out of a ripe or mature male striped bass
  • Some anglers suggest that male striped bass are more slender than females, particularly earlier in the season.
  • Another version of a test along the same vein is that slender striped bass with sloped heads are males while deep-bodied striped bass with rounder foreheads are female.
  • There are thresholds where many anglers feel confident a striper is female. You’ll see those below under the heading How to identify female striped bass? As for males, some anglers go by the rule of thumb that males generally do not grow beyond 15 to 20 pounds.

Male and female striped bass move from staging areas to spawning grounds simultaneously. Studies indicate that females occupy the spawning grounds for less than males: 12 and seven days in 2004 and 2005, compared to 15 days for the males.

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How to identify female striped bass?

  • During the spawning season, a ripe female striped bass may display a swollen or engorged belly. This may be why some anglers say that a female is less slender than a male.
  • You may, while squeezing gently down a female striper’s belly, be able to feel eggs inside the fish, but the roe will not usually be released unless they’re very ripe
  • Another version of a test along the same vein is that slender striped bass with sloped heads are males while deep-bodied striped bass with rounder foreheads are female.
  • For what it’s worth — and it may only be worth the paper it’s written on, which is to say zilch — some anglers say that if a striper dies with its mouth open, then it is a female
  • Some anglers use different size thresholds, suggesting that 90% of striped bass over 28″ will be females and 99% of fish over 32″. Those thresholds vary somewhat from the University of Rhode Island’s figures but are generally consistent.

The International Game Fish Association records that the All-Tackle World Record for longest striped bass is 81 lb 14 oz, set by Gregory Myerson in Long Island Sound, Connecticut, in 2011.

The All-Tackle World Record for heaviest striped bass is 124.0 cm, set by Mark Foster in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, in January 2020. No word on whether those world-record-setting bass were male or female.

How do you distinguish between male and female largemouthed bass?

Like striped bass, largemouthed bass is not sexually dimorphic. You can recognize a largemouth bass by its green coloring, the blotchy stripe down its sides, and its huge mouth.

Distinguishing between male and female largemouth bass, though, is much more difficult. Doing so has some similarities with distinguishing between male and female strippers.

  • Female largemouth bass are much larger than males and live longer
  • Largemouth bass over eight are nine pounds are almost certainly female
  • Spawning pairs of largemouth bass usually include a smaller male and larger female
  • Since male largemouth bass are responsible for nest-building and security, a single bass is likely a male
  • During or just before spawning season, male largemouth bass will emit milt from its anal vent when you push its belly with your fingers
  • During the same season, you may be able to see green-tinged eggs in the anal vent of a female largemouth bass
  • As a general rule, the anal vent of male largemouth bass is circular, compared to a more oval-shaped anal vent of female largemouth bass.

The International Game Fish AssociationOpens in a new tab. records that the All-Tackle World Record for heaviest largemouth bass was set — at 22 lb 4 oz — in June 1932 and matched in July 2009 by George Perry in Georgia, and Manabu Kurita in Shiga, Japan.

The All-Tackle World Record for longest largemouth bass was set — at 65.0 cm — in May 2015 and matched in April 2018 in Lake Jeffery, Florida, and Mission Viejo, California. History does not record whether those record-holders were male or female.

Summary

Identifying the difference between female and male striped bass are very confusing. But with a little research, we have learned how to identify them. I hope after reading this article, you got the idea of how to tell a female and a male striped bass

Zaldy

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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