Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Florida's Unique Gulf Strain Striped Bass

Description: Gulf striped bass, a species of Greatest Conservation Need in Florida, are native to the Ochlockonee River drainage in Florida. Lake Talquin, located in Leon and Gadsden counties, and the lower Ochlockonee River serve as an important source of adult broodfish used in stocking efforts to achieve the Gulf Striped Bass Management Plan’s partnership goal. The goal of the plan is to conserve Gulf striped bass throughout their native range. The partnership between FWC, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been ongoing for four decades.

Lake Talquin and the lower Ochlockonee River provide a popular striped bass fishery and serve as an important broodfish repository for an ongoing multi-state partnership effort to conserve Gulf striped bass throughout their native range. Female striped bass twenty-four inches and larger are required for spawning, since Gulf striped bass are unable to successfully spawn in the wild due to altered and impounded panhandle rivers. Recent studies investigating angler harvest, age structure, and habitat availability for striped bass in this system indicated that management actions should be taken to conserve this population and reduce angling harvest.

As a result, the striped bass regulation for the lower Ochlockonee River was changed in 2023 to provide more protection to the limited number of large fish. The new regulation allows anglers to harvest three striped bass per day with only one fish greater than twenty-four inches. A second study is being conducted in 2024 to investigate how harvest rates have changed since the new regulation has been put into place. An angler creel survey is also being implemented to better understand total striped bass angling effort and harvest in order to best manage this important recreational fishery.

• In the lower Ochlockonee River (downstream of the Jackson Bluff dam to

Ochlockonee Bay)(blue line): the bag limit for striped bass is 3, with no minimum
length limit and only one of which may be 24 inches or longer in total length (20 fish
combined bag limit of striped bass, white bass, and sunshine bass).

• In the Suwannee River, areas north and west of the Suwannee River, and in any
tributary, creek or stream of the Suwannee River (green shading and line): the
bag limit for striped bass is 3, each of which must be at least 18 inches in total