Striped bass prefer a temperature range of from 55° F to 68° F. As seasonal water temperatures change, the striped bass will migrate.
There are two migrations, spring and fall.
The spring striper migration begins in the deep waters of Virginia and North Carolina coasts. The bass start heading north moving into rivers and bays (Chesapeake Bay, Hudson and Delaware Rivers) to spawn and chasing bait fish. Striped bass spawn in waters around 65 F.
After spawning and moving back to the ocean, the warming waters will continue to drive the bass north to the New England waters.
Starting typically in September, the New England waters begin to cool, bait fish move out into the ocean and the stripers head south again. Stripers will be looking to fatten up for the winter.
The fall migration continues into December along the New Jersey coast and even into January farther south around Virginia.
The majority of migrating stripers end up in the deeper waters off of the Virginia and North Carolina coasts (commonly beyond the EEZ 3 mile mark), where they will spend the winter.
Younger bass may stay near the bays and rivers where they were born throughout the winter until they are large enough (> 30 inches) to join the migration. Once the waters warm up again in the spring (over 45 F), the holdovers will begin to feed again.
Ideal striped bass feeding temperatures are between 55 to 65 F.
When the water is colder and around the mid to high 40's, stripers will not feed and the fish stay near the bottom.
When the water is warmer, fish feed more at night and slow up during the day.
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