(1.1) STRIPED BASS - Striped Bass of the Ocklawaha River, Florida

Striped Bass of the Ocklawaha River, Florida

 

An Information, Opinion, Photos, and Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca 
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter, the late Roy R. Robin Lewis III, and K. Alwine
Article Originally Posted to Internet: 01 September 2011
Created (on Original Webpage): 21 November 2011
Moved (to this Webpage): 19 June 2013
Last Revised: 15 October 2019

  

Special Acknowledgment to Mr. James P. Clugston (1972-1973 Southern Division President of the American Fisheries Society):  Thank you for the many pages of documents that you freely provided to me.


NOTE:  Click-on individual photos to enlarge them!

A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

  

NOTE:  Some of the credible written works by others (i.e., magazine/newspaper articles, web pages, etc.) that are referenced in this report would not be considered peer-reviewed scientific documentation. 

 

 

IMPORTANT OCKLAWAHA RIVER STRIPED BASS NEWS

FROM CALENDAR YEAR 2015 

SINCE 2010, I have tirelessly advocated for the re-establishment of a By-God naturally reproducing population of striped bass in a restored to free-flowing again 56-mile length Ocklawaha River -- Source to the Sea, from its supreme headwater at Silver Springs to its tidal estuary at the St. Johns River. The Ocala Star-Banner newspaper on 05 July 2010 published my Letter to the Editor entitled Before Rodman Dam, the stripers ran. My first Riverbassin article regarding this subject was posted to the internet on 01 November 2010 and my first You Tube video related to this topic appeared online 09 May 2011. And up to this present day I have continued pleading my case -- to anyone who would listen or read -- on the behalf of St. Johns River basin Atlantic-race striped bass, a Florida-native and desirable game fish condemned for all eternity in 1968 by the closure of Rodman Dam to a sentence of NO NATURAL REPRODUCTION EVER ALLOWED AGAIN in its only suitable spawning waters (the Ocklawaha River of Marion and Putnam counties). 

 

SOME GOOD NEWS TO ANNOUNCE?

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Marty Hale) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Allan Brown), some 22,440 live Atlantic-race striped bass fingerlings were stocked into the Ocklawaha River system at Eureka and Gores Landing (many miles upstream of Rodman Dam and Buckman Lock) on 13 May 2015. The source documents (which also involve Ken Blick, Allen Martin, Eric Nagid and Mickey Thomason) are available for viewing at the bottom of this webpage. 

A 22-inch long striped bass from a free-flowing segment of the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida.

Within 5 years, any surviving stripers from the May 2015 stocking of the Ocklawaha basin above Rodman Dam could be this size -- or larger! And traversing upriver to attempt spawning.

NOTE:  Striped bass (just like largemouth bass) are a historically-native game fish of the Ocklawaha River.

 

This 2015 year-class of fingerling stripers should succumb to the instinctive spawning urge at about age two (for males) or age four (for females). So within several years during late winter and/or early spring these striped bass should begin moving upstream in the Ocklawaha-Silver River system seeking the long stretches of swift-flowing current that they would require for a successful spawn. Unfortunately as long as the Rodman (a.k.a. Kirkpatrick) Dam remains an impediment to there being about 50 miles or so of uninterrupted flowing stream -- these striped bass are destined to be unsuccessful at their most important natural task (reproduction of their own species). But they will try! And when they first show up near Silver River and Silver Springs (39 to 44 river miles above Rodman Dam) it will offer proof that these hatchery-bred stripers at least wanted to reproduce the way the Creator intended. 

 

NOW TO THE REST OF THE STORY ABOUT THIS MAY 2015 STOCKING OF STRIPERS

In 2011, I had initiated email contact with Marty Hale to request state and/or federal stocking of striped bass back into their pre-1968 natural range of the Ocklawaha River (including its supreme headwater of Silver River and Silver Springs) upstream of the present Rodman Dam. Marty and I exchanged follow-up emails occasionally since then.

 

Email reply statements from Marty Hale (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) to me included: "You are correct, striped bass had unobstructed access to the entire Ocklawaha River before construction of Rodman Reservoir. While striped bass occurred naturally in the St. Johns River and its tributaries, early fisheries data indicated that these populations were typically quite low. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stocked striped bass into the St. Johns River for many years, but has not stocked stripers there in quite some time. The USFWS does stock striped bass into the St. Johns River annually as part of a restoration fishery objective. We may be able to request some of these striped bass being stocked into the St. Johns River to go into the Ocklawaha River, and will contact the USFWS to see if this is a possibility." About a week later, Marty wrote me again: "It would be interesting to see if a population of striped bass could be re-established in the upper portions of the Ocklawaha River. I will keep you informed as to our progress." Of course I retained copies of these public record emails.

 

Meanwhile, my fellow Ocklawaha River restoration advocate the late Mr. Roy R. Robin Lewis III engaged both Marty Hale and Allan Brown about the possibilities of striped bass being made extant again in an undammed St. Johns-Ocklawaha-Silver River system. Migratory Atlantic-race striped bass were native to (and spawned in) the Ocklawaha upriver to Silver Springs and Moss Bluff prior to the Cross Florida Barge Canal construction activities of the late 1960’s that produced Rodman Reservoir. Almost all scientific evidence points to Rodman Reservoir (a.k.a. Lake Ocklawaha or Rodman Pool) as being the cause of the ultimate extirpation of naturally reproducing stripers in the St. Johns River basin. Simply put, Rodman reduces the free and swift-flowing Ocklawaha River to a length unsuitable for a successful hatch of striped bass.

 

 

I AM QUITE PLEASED THAT FINGERLING STRIPERS MAY NOW BE SWIMMING AGAIN

IN THE OCKLAWAHA RIVER BASIN ABOVE RODMAN DAM?

But make no mistake about this, I remain absolutely committed to the belief that St. Johns River basin striped bass should be able to once again successfully complete their basic-instinct. Basically speaking, that means that stripers must have the opportunity to reproduce as they did prior to 30 September 1968 in a free and swift-flowing 56-mile long Ocklawaha River -- which is only made possible by the breaching of Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam as soon as possible!

 

NOTE:  Sources at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have reported to me that there was no stocking of striped bass (fingerling or any other size) into the Ocklawaha River basin upstream of Rodman Dam and Buckman Lock during the years 2016 and 2017 -- apparently none were available. Also, as of this latest revised update, there have been no catches or sightings -- so far -- of any of those Atlantic-race stripers that were stocked as fingerlings into the Ocklawaha River in May of 2015.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT

 

Some of my fellow river bass anglers have experienced this type of adrenalin stimulus at least once in their lives and have not forgotten it yet. You are float-fishing a flowing river for your favorite black bass species from your canoe or kayak when all of a sudden your spinner-bait has been intercepted by a submerged F-4 Phantom jet -- which is now attempting to drag you and your vessel into the depths by your own 15-pound monofilament line. Now, if this flowing river that you are fishing just happens to be no further south than northern Florida and is connected to a much larger river, big lake, or tidewater; then maybe you start thinking -- WOW, IT MIGHT BE A STRIPER!

A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida


I have caught striped bass from Florida's Apalachicola, Ochlockonee, and St. Johns river basins -- but NEVER from the Ocklawaha basin upstream of Rodman Dam or Buckman Lock. In fact, I have not been able to verify any recent existence of striped bass in the flowing middle Ocklawaha River -- which flows swiftly at a striper-friendly usual water temperature of between 60 and 80 degrees F all-year -- above Rodman Reservoir (a.k.a. Rodman Pool or Lake Ocklawaha).

A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

A 10-pound largemouth bass and a 15-pound striped bass
Marion County's Ocklawaha-Silver River system could have both NATIVE species again!

 

Largemouth bass exist and naturally reproduce in all of Florida's 67 counties. In almost all of this state (except where maybe it is too salty) you can dig a pond on your own property (if permitted and of suitable depth/size) that stocked largemouth bass will probably be able to successfully spawn and survive in. There is nothing unique about finding native, naturally reproducing largemouth bass in Florida. Trophy largemouth bass (weighing 10 pounds and over) are caught from time to time statewide. Florida's striped bass, however, have a completely different life history. 

A striped bass from the St. Johns River basin below Rodman Dam

 

The St. Johns River basin historically supported the most southern native and naturally reproducing population of striped bass in the United States. Striped bass, Morone saxatilis (formerly a.k.a. Roccus saxatilis), is also commonly known as striper. Striped bass in more northern states with summertime cool coastal saltwater are classed as anadromous marine fish, living much of the time in tidewater but spawning far upstream in freshwater rivers. Stripers in Florida, however, are classed as riverine freshwater fish. Adult striped bass are also cool-water fish needing 70 to 80 degree F thermal refuges such as artesian springs and canopied streams for survival during hot weather. The spring-fed and originally mostly forest-lined Ocklawaha River is the largest stream-flow tributary of the St. Johns River. 


A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

 

Stripers spawn (or attempt to spawn) in late winter and/or early spring. Available fisheries research documents suggest that striped bass require about 50 miles of swift-flowing stream current (of at least 0.68 mph) for their fertilized eggs and larvae to be suspended-in for approximately 48 hours to avoid suffocating in bottom mud. Rodman Dam (a.k.a. Kirkpatrick Dam), constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers solely for the defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal project, was completed across the Ocklawaha River on 30 September 1968. The striper's strict reproductive requirement would identify the pre-Rodman impounded Ocklawaha River -- which was 56 free-flowing stream miles of swift current from Silver Springs to the St. Johns -- as probably being the only striped bass successful natural spawning habitat of the entire St. Johns River basin. 

A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

 

The extremely low stream gradient (about 1/10th of the Ocklawaha's), with its resulting sluggish current, of the St. Johns River itself precludes the larger river from being suitable for the striper's reproductive needs. Lake Washington, near Melbourne, is 260 miles upriver from the mouth but less than 20 feet elevation above sea level -- lower than Rodman Reservoir much of the time. There are not enough stream miles or stream-flow velocity and volume to allow striped bass natural reproduction in any of the other major tributaries of the St. Johns River: Econlockhatchee River (26 miles), Wekiva River (14 miles), Alexander Creek (13 miles), Juniper Creek (10 miles), Salt Springs Run (4 miles), Dunns Creek (6 miles), Black Creek (24 miles), etc. 

A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

 

Since 1970, striper replacement stocks in the St. Johns basin have been hatchery raised and stocked by man. Successful natural reproduction seems to have ceased with the advent of Rodman Dam. During the springtime, adults of these St. Johns River man-reared striped bass attempt futile spawning runs attracted by the current of the lower Ocklawaha River but are blocked by Rodman Dam from proceeding any further upstream. Without a steady current in the still-water Cross Florida Barge Canal to guide them, only very few (if any) move back and forth through Buckman Lock. In recent years striped bass appear to be absent from the Ocklawaha River upstream of Rodman Reservoir (a.k.a. Rodman Pool or Lake Ocklawaha) as evidenced by a lack of striper observations or catches. And at least through the end of calendar year 2014, no striped bass have ever been intentionally stocked into the Ocklawaha River system above Rodman Dam and Buckman Lock by state or federal agencies.

Hatchery-bred striped bass and hybrids at Silver Glen Springs
Rodman Dam stops them from making a spawning run up the Ocklawaha River to the Silver River

 

The stated mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is "Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people." It would seem that attempting to restore a natural breeding population of Atlantic-race striped bass to their historic Ocklawaha River spawning habitat would be a worthy goal for the FWC to actively pursue. Wouldn’t the "long-term well-being" of a desirable Florida-native game-fish species with a very limited range in this state -- the Atlantic-race striped bass -- be better advanced by making its very existence in the St. Johns River basin not only completely dependent upon the work of fish hatcheries? 

Hatchery-bred striped bass and hybrids at Silver Glen Springs
Rodman Dam stops them from making a spawning run up the Ocklawaha River to the Silver River

 

This report will present available data, excerpted from thirty-six Florida and other U.S. source documents, supporting the belief that the endemic striped bass of the St. Johns basin historically utilized the pre-Rodman impounded Ocklawaha River as their only suitable spawning habitat.

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE REPORT

EXCERPTED DATA FROM THIRTY-SIX SOURCE DOCUMENTS

1. to 36.

REFERENCES

 

 

 

EXCERPTED DATA FROM THIRTY-SIX SOURCE DOCUMENTS 

 

 

1.  Bacon and Black (1891) navigation survey report:

"Table No I...

Velocity per hour for lower river...miles...0.90...

Maximum velocity per hour...........do.....1.20..." 

 

NOTE: The "lower river" refers to the Ocklawaha (in 1891) from "Silver Spring Run 53.1 miles" downstream to the "St. Johns River 0.0 miles." "Velocity per hour" means the speed of the river current (stream velocity) which was measured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (in 1891) at an average of 0.90 mph with a maximum of 1.20 mph.

 

 

2.  McLane (1955) fisheries report:

"Recorded from Doctors Lake southward to Lake Monroe in the St. Johns and up the Oklawaha River to the Moss Bluff Dam. No records or reports of this species are known for the coastal areas or about the mouth of the [St. Johns] river." 

 

"The striped bass is known to be a freshwater spawner, and since there are no records of stripers for the lower portion of the [St. Johns] river, the tidal streams, or along the coast, it appears that this species must have spawning grounds somewhere in the St. Johns drainage system." 

 

"This suggests that the population density of this species in the St. Johns drainage is dependent on ecological valence and spawning success of this stock and not on migratory segments from more northern stream populations."

 

 

3.  Langworthy (1955) Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal newspaper article:

"Sudden appearance of Northern striped bass, known along the New England sea coast and southward as 'stripers', over near Silver Springs during the past week has sent scores of fishermen speeding to that area with heavy tackle and anticipation agog. 

 

"The 'stripers' have been located at the junction of the Silver River where it enters the Oklawaha River, and were first noticed by a fishing party that went out from Ed's Boat Basin, operated by Ed Mason on Road 40 at the Oklawaha. 

 

"Reports received here say that the party, fishing for black bass, hit into rather hefty strikes that tore up tackle. Later, and with heavier gear, they returned to the river and boated some of the fish, finding that they were real northern striped bass, a salt water fish. From then on anglers from all around hurried to the river, and at last report were hauling in scores of them weighing from 14 to 30 pounds. 

 

"Striped bass are well known along the northeast Atlantic Coast, especially along the New England section where each year a big 'striper tournament' is conducted. They are caught in the ocean surf up that way and provide excellent sport for anglers. How they happen to have drifted this far south and so far up in Florida's fresh water streams is anybody's guess. Maybe the recent hurricanes had something to do with it. 

 

"I checked with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission Friday night regarding the appearance of stripers this far off their customary beat. The Commission said that striped bass often travel long distances up rivers and there is nothing unusual about finding them in fresh water. 

 

"Dave Swindell, regional manager of the Commission with office at Williston, Fla., also said that he had heard nothing of large schools of stripers in the Oklawaha, but that some had been caught during the past several months at the county boat basin and landing near the junction of the Oklawaha and Silver Rivers -- which is where these big catches have been made during the past few days. 

 

"Several weeks ago an 18 pounder was caught with shrimp in the vicinity of Eureka, about 20 miles downstream from the junction of the two rivers. 

 

"Several years ago a few stripers were seen and caught, at the 'Croaker Hole' in the mouth of Lake George, but not in any great quantity. Norman Clifton of Daytona Beach was over at the junction of the two rivers Friday and reported seeing large catches of the stripers being made. An unconfirmed report said that one man had caught 100 of them in three days last week. 

 

"The stripers were first noticed last Monday when they began tearing up light bass tackle. To get into the Oklawaha, they would have had to come in from the Atlantic via the St. Johns and its string of lakes, quite a long trip inland for a salt water fish. 

 

"The stripers at the junction of these two rivers are reported to be striking at live shiners, striking avidly. As far as I can gather, they would average around 12 pounds, but some are larger. In the Atlantic Ocean surf they average 20, but some have weighed 100 pounds, the records say. 

 

"The striped bass is an anadromous variety, or one that ascends rivers from the sea at certain seasons, like salmon and shad. The scientific name is Roccus saxatillis, family Serranidae. It is native to the Atlantic Coast of the United States, but is also common on the Pacific Coast where it has been introduced. 

 

"In color the striper is olivaceous above, yellowish silvery on the sides and below, but gets its name from numerous longitudinal black stripes on its sides. It is highly esteemed as a game and food fish, especially in New England." 

 

 

4.  Ocala Star-Banner (1956) newspaper article:

"Ocklawaha Catch...Jim Keeney [in photo], Ocala, is displaying the 17-pound stripped [sic] bass he pulled out of the Ocklawaha River on a standard spinning outfit with 8-pound test line. Keeney said it took between 15 and 20 minutes to land the bass. A number of the large salt water fish have been caught recently. They have come up the Ocklawaha to spawn."

 


5.  Waterman (1958) The Evening Independent newspaper article:

"After my underwater observations I was talking with Buck Ray, the manager of Silver Springs, about the fish in the Springs. He took me to his office and showed me the picture of a salt water striped bass [18.5 pounds] which he had taken in the Silver River below the springs."

 

 

6.  McErlean (1961) fisheries report:

"Mr. J. M. Barkaloo [sic] (personal communication), the project leader of the Anadromous Fish Study for the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, gives the Florida distribution of bass as follows: 'The Apalachicola River population seems to be the most important, the other is in the St. John's River. We have occurence [sic] records of this fish for every other major river system in North Florida; i.e. St. Marys River, Suwannee River, St. Marks River, Ochlockonee River, Choctawhatchee River, Yellow River, Escambia River and the Perdido River. It is my belief that the few found in those other rivers are stragglers from the spawning populations mentioned above.'" 

 

"BIOLOGY OF THE STRIPED BASS The complete life history of the Florida bass is not known but the literature for the animal is voluminous and very informative." 

 

"Perhaps, more than any other factor in its life history, the unique reproductive requirements of R. saxatilis, explains its scarcity and distribution in Florida. The maintainence [sic] of fishable stock is dependent upon whether the bass is able to reproduce and thus replenish its numbers. Clearly, the requirements for reproduction are not met equally in the available river systems of the State." 

 

"Barkaloo [sic] (personal communication) in reference to Florida stripers states that '...approximately 50 miles or more of large stream is required for spawning.'" 

 

"It is probable that bass do not spawn in all the rivers of North Florida since a single successful spawning of two or three older females could theoretically populate the river systems mentioned earlier." 

 

 

7.  Buckow (1962) Palm Beach Post-Times newspaper article:

"'Eighty-four striped bass were brought into one fishing camp alone on the St. Johns during the past year, and some of the stripers at Silver Springs are now up to the 25-30-pound bracket', Dietz said."

 

 

NOTE:  Thomas Eugene "Gene" Gallant was the author of several 1960’s-vintage Ocala Star-Banner newspaper fishing articles that mentioned striped bass and the Ocklawaha River. Gene was a well known outdoors personality, historian and writer in the area. I was with Marion County native Captain Erika Ritter on 04 October 2008 when she spoke with the elderly Mr. Gallant on the phone. Gene Gallant told Erika that he indeed remembered the striped bass spawning runs and the exciting striper fishing along the Ocklawaha River of Marion County before Rodman Dam was completed in 1968. Gene passed away on 01 August 2011 at the age of 86.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ocala/obituary.aspx?pid=152871260

 

 

8.  Gallant (1962) Ocala Star-Banner newspaper article:

"Colby’s Landing Fish Camp reports that a few striped bass are still ready and willing to take the bait and that bass fishing on the Oklawaha has improved considerable."

 

 

9.  Gallant (1965) Ocala Star-Banner newspaper article:

"John Norka of Norka's Camp at Eureka reported a few days ago that the Striped Bass are starting to put in their annual appearance and while no 'lunker' size Stripers have been caught, plenty of eating size ones are vailable [sic]."

 

 

10.  Gallant (1966) Ocala Star-Banner newspaper article:

"It looked for awhile like the annual run of Striped Bass were going to overlook the Ocklawaha River this season, but last week the scrappy gamesters started their upriver trek, and now a few of them have been boated during the past few days. 

 

"Bob Houck, from Pasteur's Sports Shop went out last Wednesday, and latched-on to a 12 pounder. Bob was using the old stand-by Pal-O-Mine lure and was fishing in the Gore's Landing Sector. 

 

"OTHER PORTIONS of the Ocklawaha have started to produce a few of the Stripers, too, including Colby's Landing and the mouth of Silver Springs Run." 

 

 

11.  Barkuloo (1967) fisheries report:

"Striped bass, Roccus saxatilis (Wallbaum), is classified an 'Anadromous' fish on the basis that it normally inhabits coastal waters and spawns in fresh water along most of its range. In Florida, this species is considered a freshwater race, since it does not make coastal migrations in either the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. Striped bass are under the jurisdiction of the Florida Board of Conservation as it is classified a marine species. 

 

"The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission is interested in striped bass because it has tremendous potential as a large game fish in Florida rivers and lakes, and because it has been found effective in the control of gizzard and threadfin shad." 

 

"Racial Status of the Florida Striped Bass[:] Much interest was stimulated regarding 'Fresh Water Races' of striped bass as a result of the striped bass population in Santee-Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina. Raney and Woolcott (1955) indicated that the St. Johns River, Florida striped bass was a separate race, and that there was little chance of interchange between the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico stock." 

 

"Striped bass have been reported in most areas of the St. Johns River from Lake Washington to Jacksonville (Figure 3). Principal areas of occurrence are Black Creek, Oklawaha River, Little Lake George, Silver Springs, Wekiva River, and other spring runs along the river. Occasional catches are made in the Inter-coastal Waterway adjacent to the river. Striped bass migrate seasonally within the river, but there is no evidence of a coastal migration. 

 

"Prior to 1955, commercial and sport fishing catches of striped bass from the St. Johns River were uncommon." 

 

"Atlantic Coast area striped bass are occasionally numerous in Silver Springs, and along the Oklawaha River, east of Ocala." 

 

"At the end of a three year study in 1955, Dr. William McLane (1958) concluded that the population level for striped bass in the river was at an extremely low level and had been low for several decades. He states that no young specimens had ever been collected or reported at that time." 

 

"The St. Johns River experienced a severe drought during the time of McLane's study which may have had an adverse effect on the striped bass population at that time." 

 

"The first young striped bass from the St. Johns reported to the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission was a 46mm specimen collected at the mouth of the Oklawaha River in May 1961 by Mr. Marlin Tagatz (personal correspondence). Project personnel observed two seven-inch specimens in a fisherman's creel at the same locality during March 1962." 

 

"Several good year classes of striped bass were produced since 1958 which could result in a general increase in the population level over the next few years. A recent Florida law restricting the sale of striped bass should also help to bring about this increase." 

 

"Mesmeric counts on specimens from the St. Johns River show clearly that the striped bass population in this river is derived in situ and is genetically distinct from populations to the North with the possible exception of the Nassau, St. Marys or East Georgia drainages where specimens have not been available for racial studies (Raney and Woolcott, 1955). Therefore, the future abundance of the species in the St. Johns River is dependent upon the reproduction and survival of this endemic stock."

 

 

12.  Ocala Star-Banner (1968) newspaper article:

"Surprisingly enough, the best reports of the week came out of Colby's Landing on the Oklawaha River. The fishing hasn't been up to par all year on the River but the tide may now have turned. 

 

"The best bet on the river now appears to be the striped bass. One party brought in a catch of 17 and the top place to find them seems to be where the Silver and Oklawaha Rivers branch together."

 

 

13.  Barkuloo (1970) fisheries report:

"Striped bass from the Apalachicola and St. Johns Rivers in Florida were compared taxonomically with striped bass from other drainages on the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico. Both of the rivers contain endemic striped bass populations. The Apalachicola population was found to be a separate race." 

 

"Striped bass in Florida waters received little attention from biologists until recent years. An investigation of this species was conducted by Dr. William M. McLane of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission from 1953 to 1955. McLane (1958) concluded that the population level of striped bass in the St. Johns River has been low for many years. He also found evidence that this population was an endemic race and was genetically distinct from South Carolina populations." 

 

"The Apalachicola and the St. Johns, the two largest rivers in Florida, are the most important sources of striped bass in the State."  

 

"The two principal factors limiting natural reproduction of striped bass seem to be successful maturation of fertilized ova and survival of young." 

 

"The St. Johns River is unique in many ways. A large number of marine forms, floral and faunal, are found in this drainage. It flows from south to north, draining approximately 8,350 square miles. It is 315 miles long and has a gradient of only 0.063 foot per mile. An excellent description and historical review of the St. Johns River is presented by McLane (1955). He gives the mean tidal range 103 miles upstream as 0.5 foot and observed that the direction of flow reversed as far as Lake Beresford, 145 miles upstream."  

 

"The Apalachicola is 100 miles long and has a gradient of 0.45 foot per mile."  

 

"Natural reproduction of striped bass usually takes place in large streams 25 to 100 miles above tidal influence. Spawning is from February to July depending on the water temperature (Barkuloo, 1967; Raney, 1952). Striped bass spawn at water temperatures of 58 F. to 70 F. The larvae hatch in 33 hours at 70 F., in 44 hours at 65 F., and in 70 hours at 60 F. (Stevens, 1964)." 

 

"Eggs are released into flowing water and are fertilized by one or more males. The striped bass egg has a specific gravity of approximately 1.0005 (Albrecht, 1964) and needs a current to keep it from settling to the bottom in fresh water. It has been demonstrated that these eggs have little chance for survival if they are not kept suspended (Albrecht, 1964; May and Fuller, 1962)." 

 

"The term 'race' implies a lower level of differentiation than that of subspecies (Raney and Woolcott, 1955)." 

 

"There are very pronounced differences in lateral-line scale counts of striped bass from the gulf coast drainages when compared with samples from Atlantic coast drainages...The St. Johns River sample was distinct from all other populations in this character." 

 

"St. Johns River, Fla...54.4 (mean lateral line scale count)..."

 

"Apalachicola River, Fla...66.7 (mean lateral line scale count)..." 

 

"The St. Johns River is the southern limit of natural occurrence of the striped bass. This species has not been abundant in the St. Johns River, and during periods in the past it was believed to be close to extinction (McLane, 1958). 

 

"There is strong evidence that the number of striped bass in the river has increased considerably since McLane's investigations (Barkuloo, 1967). Specimens collected during 1964 and 1965 near Palatka were in excellent condition, and sexually mature individuals contained well-developed gonads." 

 

"Reproduction and survival of the larvae are believed to be the principal factors limiting the abundance of striped bass in the St. Johns River." 

 

"Striped bass have strict spawning requirements. Natural spawning is reported to occur only in flowing water at temperatures of 58 F. to 71 F. The fertilized egg must remain suspended by currents during the period of incubation (44 hours at 65 F.). The ova and larvae must be maintained in water temperatures between 54 F. and 72 F. When the delicate larvae are hatched, they have little chance for survival if water currents are insufficient to keep them from settling to the bottom." 

 

"The St. Johns River has several tributary streams which have suitable flow and temperature ranges for successful striped bass reproduction. These areas include the Oklawaha River, Black Creek, Dunn's Creek, and the Wekiva River."  

 

NOTE: Wekiva River (Wekiwa Springs to St. Johns River) is only about 14 stream miles; Black Creek (S.R. 16 to tidal St. Johns River) is only about 24 stream miles; Dunns Creek (Crescent Lake to tidal St. Johns River) is only about 6 stream miles. 

 

"There is strong evidence of some natural reproductions in both the St. Johns and the Apalachicola Rivers. One striped bass, 46 mm long, was collected from the St. Johns by Marlin Tagatz (personal correspondence) and two 7-inch fish were checked in a fisherman's creel. All three were taken near the mouth of the Oklawaha River.

 


14.  Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (1970) Florida Wildlife magazine article:

"Construction of the Rodman and Eureka dams will limit the yearly migration of anadromous fishes to the upper reaches of the Oklawaha River. One of the most important species is the striped bass." 

 


15.  Bass and Guillory (1976) fisheries report:

"The St. Johns is the largest river in the state of Florida. The watershed encompasses approximately 8,350 square miles. It flows northward along the Atlantic coast for about 200 miles (320 km) from its headwaters to the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville, Florida.  The St. Johns is a relatively shallow, slow-flowing, low gradient river; its headwaters are less than 25 feet (7.6m) above sea level...Tidal influence is felt as far upstream as Lake George, 115 miles (185 km) from the ocean." 

 

"The Oklawaha River, the largest tributary of the St. Johns, enters the St. Johns River at the town of Welaka, several miles upstream from the entrance of the Rodman canal.  The Oklawaha River is about 125 miles in length (202 km) and drains approximately 2,300 square miles. Gradient of the Oklawaha River is much steeper than the St. Johns River proper, and currents are much swifter. The gradient of the Oklawaha, from its headwaters to confluence with the St. Johns River, is about 60 feet (18.3 m)." 

 

"Although the Oklawaha is a 'sand-bottomed' type stream, as defined by Beck (1965), it has several unique characteristics. Its swift current and steep gradient of 60 feet from headwaters to its mouth more typically exemplifies a Piedmont-type stream." 

 

"Also the blockage of migrations of striped bass, American eel and possibly, American shad, which now exists in the form of Rodman Dam, would be removed. Restoration of these spawning runs would have a positive economic impact upon commercial fisheries as well as enhancing the sport fisheries." 

 

"Prior to the construction of Rodman Dam, eight marine species (American eel, American shad, hogchoker, Atlantic needlefish, striped bass, sailfin molly, white mullet, striped mullet) ranged up to Moss Bluff Dam and/or Silver Springs (McLane, 1955)."

 

"A total of 49 freshwater species have been recorded from the Oklawaha River proper and immediate tributaries...Eleven marine species...have been taken in the Oklawaha River..."

 

"Barkuloo (1967) noted that striped bass were occasionally numerous in Silver Springs. As early as 1970, however, there has been a decline in certain marine fishes (e.g., striped bass, mullet) in Silver Springs (letter from Buck Ray to Dale Walker, 23 October 1970). This decline in the marine fishes may be attributed to the presence of the physical barrier downstream -- Rodman Dam." 

 

"A total of 36 freshwater species have been recorded from Silver Springs...In addition, a total of seven marine or estuarine species (Atlantic needlefish, rainwater killifish, sailfin molly, striped bass, striped mullet, white mullet, hogchoker) have historically occurred in Silver Springs." 

 

"A total of 33 freshwater species have been taken from Rodman Reservoir...Only three marine species, American eel, Atlantic needlefish and striped mullet, have been recorded." 

 

"Though catches of striped bass were recorded from the lower Oklawaha River (downstream from Rodman Reservoir) and at the Rodman Dam, no catches were reported from Rodman Reservoir itself." 

 

"Raney and Woolcott (1955) indicated the St. Johns River population was a distinct race. The Apalachicola River (Gulf Coast) population is separable from Atlantic populations on the basis of lateral-line scale counts (Barkuloo, 1967). 

 

"On the Atlantic coast of Florida catches have been recorded from the St. Marys, Nassau and St. Johns Rivers. In the St. Johns drainage principal localities where striped bass have been taken are Black Creek, Oklawaha River, Little Lake George, Silver Springs, Wekiva River and other spring runs. Seasonal migrations of the fish occur in the St. Johns River (Barkuloo, 1967). 

 

"McLane (1958) concluded that the population in the St. Johns River was at a very low level. Several good year classes have been produced since 1958, however (Barkuloo, 1967). 

 

"Diet of striped bass from the St. Johns River was composed principally of gizzard shad, threadfin shad, blueback herring and anchovy (Barkuloo, 1967)." 

 

"Another factor to consider in the successful reproduction of anadromous fishes after they have surmounted dams is the length of free flowing stream above the dam (Talbot, 1966). Since eggs of anadromous fish such as striped bass and American shad are heavier than water, they depend upon water currents to keep them suspended. Thus, spawning must take place far enough upstream so that by the time the reservoir is reached, young larvae have developed adequately to maintain themselves. Striped bass in the Santee-Cooper system utilize about 50 miles of river in the Congaree River and about 60 miles in the Wateree River (Scruggs, 1951, 1957)."

 

 

16.  Bain and Bain (1982) fisheries report:

"Striped bass populations occur along the Atlantic coast from the St. Lawrence River, Canada, to the St. Johns River, Florida."  

 

"Adult striped bass migrate to fresh or nearly freshwater to spawn. Typically, spawning takes place in riverine habitat closely associated with the upper estuary, approximately within the first 45 km (28 mi) of freshwater (Talbot 1966). In some stocks, particularly those in estuarine systems lacking pronounced tidal cycles, spawning may occur at greater distances upstream of the estuary."  

 

"Striped bass refrain from feeding only immediately before and during spawning (Morqan and Gerlach 1950; Hollis 1952)." 

 

"Survival of striped bass eggs to hatching is primarily associated with narrow tolerances to certain physiochemical factors including temperature, dissolved oxygen, and current velocity (Cooper and Polgar 1981)." 

 

"Shannon and Smith (1967) reported that optimal spawning temperatures are approximately 17 to 19 C (63 to 66 F) with no spawning observed below 13 C (55 F) or above 22 C (72 F). With minor variations, these temperature ranges correspond with observations by Calhoun et al. (1950), Raney (1952), Dickson (1957), Farley (1966), and Talbot (1966)." 

 

"A temperature range of 17 to 20 C (63 to 68 F) is optimal for egg survival (Barkuloo 1970; Doroshev 1970; Morgan et al. 1981). Morgan and Rasin (1973) and Rogers et al. (1977) indicated that egg survival rapidly declines as water temperature approaches 23 C (73 F) and gradually declines as water temperature drops below 17 C (63 F), with few eggs surviving at 12 C (54 F). These temperature ranges are similar to those required for spawning." 

 

"A critical factor for egg survival is sufficient current velocity to maintain egg suspension (Talbot 1966). Either tidal turbulence or river discharge can provide sufficient water movement to suspend the eggs. A minimum average velocity of 30 cm/s (1 ft/s) is necessary to prevent the concentration of eggs on the bottom (Albrecht 1964)."  

 

NOTE: 1 ft/s velocity = 0.68 mile per hour stream current. 

"The egg stage is brief in comparison to other striped bass life stages. Several authors documented hatching at approximately 48 hours after fertilization at a temperature of 18 C (64 F). However, hatching time varies from 29 hours at 22 C (72 F) to 80 hours at 11 C (52 F) (Pearson 1938; Raney 1952; Mansueti 1958; Hardy 1978)." 

 

"Striped bass populations are characterized by dramatic fluctuations in year-class size. Traditionally, survival during the larval stage has been considered to determine year-class size in species exhibiting large fluctuations in abundance (May 1974; Dahlberg 1979)." 

 

"River discharge (m3/s) influences spawning habitat suitability. Although critical values have not been established, it is assumed that 100% of the natural river discharge (average during spawning) will provide optimal spawning conditions. River discharge above the average (100% of natural) is not assumed to reduce habitat suitability. Natural river discharge may be considered to be mean discharge prior to human modifications of the system or the discharge that would occur if diversions and withdrawals ceased." 

 


17.  Fay et al. (1983) fisheries report:

"It has also been noted that feeding rate of adults drops off temporarily in late spring and summer, probably in connection with spawning activities (Hollis 1952; Stevens 1966; Trent and Hassler 1966)." 

 

"Table 6. Tolerance, optimal, and lethal values for selected environmental factors on striped bass eggs... Environmental factor...Current velocity (cm/s)...Tolerance 30.5-500...Optimum 100-200...Lethal (less than) 30.5cm/s (Albrecht 1964)..."  

 


18.  Crance (1984) fisheries report:

"Spawning sites are generally characterized by rapids, boulders, and strong currents (Norny 1882; Raney 1952; Mansueti and Hollis 1963; Talbot 1966). Eggs require suspension by currents for good survival and successful hatching (Stevens 1966; Talbot 1966; Bayless 1968)." 

 

"Streams suitable as striped bass reproductive habitat generally have a large volume of swift, turbulent water flowing over a substrate of rock and/or fine gravel (Pearson 1938; Raney 1952; Fish and McCoy 1959; Fish 1960; Mansueti and Hollis 1963; Kornegay and Humphries 1976; Combs 1979)." 

 

"A minimum current velocity of about 30.5 cm/s (1 ft/s) is required to suspend striped bass eggs in freshwater (Albrecht 1964)." 

 

"The minimum length of stream required for riverine reproductive habitat can be roughly estimated by calculating the product of current velocity and hatching time. The minimum length of stream required is about 52.6 km or 32.7 miles (48 h x 30.5 cm/s or 1 ft/s) if eggs must float for 48 hours (approximate time for hatching at optimum water temperature) before hatching, a minimum current velocity of 30.5 cm/s (1 ft/s) is required for egg flotation, and eggs move downstream at current velocity. However, this estimate may not represent the actual minimum stream length required because: (1) eggs do not move at current velocity; (2) water temperature may vary enough between stream sections to alter hatching time; (3) suspension of the newly hatched embryo may be required for about 15 hours post-hatch, increasing the distance required..." 

 

"Food availability may not directly limit the suitability of reproductive habitat because adults do not feed immediately before and during spawning (Woodhull 1947; Morgan and Gerlach 1950; Hollis 1952; Stevens 1966; Trent and Hassler 1966; Manooch 1973). However, their feeding habits during spawning runs are unclear." 

 

"Physical barriers. Dams or other physical barriers that prevent fish passage may eliminate access to spawning habitat. Fishways have not proven satisfactory for striped bass (Talbot 1966)."  

 


19.  Ocala Star-Banner (1987) newspaper article:

"He said the big striped bass used to come into the Ocklawaha River all the way up to Silver Springs from the St. Johns River, 'and you just don’t see that anymore. The dam keeps them out.'" 

 

 

20.  Gainesville Sun (1987) newspaper article:

"The hatchery offers a bonanza to fishermen in the St. Johns River because of the number of striped bass it puts into the river each year." 

 

"Although the Atlantic variety of striped bass are native to the river, it is believed that they are unable to spawn there." 

 

"The Rodman Dam on the Oklawaha River, west of Welaka, may have cut the fish off from the spawning grounds."

 

 

21.  Ware (1988) Florida Wildlife magazine article:

"Striped bass occur naturally in four Florida river systems: the St. Mary's, Nassau and St. Johns rivers along the Atlantic Coast; and the Apalachicola River system along the Gulf of Mexico." 

 

"Spawning requirements for striped bass are unique and rarely satisfied in Florida. Limited natural reproduction has been documented in the St. Mary's, Nassau, St. Johns, and Apalachicola Rivers; however evidence of recent reproduction in the St. Johns has ceased." 

 

"By 1970, the Commission had initiated large-scale stocking programs in the Ochlockonee and St. Johns rivers...No. of Striped Bass Stocked St. Johns River 200,000 to 700,000..." 

 


22.  Hill et al. (1989) fisheries report:

"Striped bass require waters having suitable flows, salinities, temperatures, and other aspects of habitat quality, which makes the species particularly vulnerable to river alterations (Rulifson et al. 1982b). Such alterations have eliminated the native Gulf of Mexico striped bass from most of its original range (Wooley et al. 1981)." 

 

"In the South Atlantic Region, spawning begins as early as mid-February in Florida..." 

 

"...striped bass eggs from the low-velocity St. Johns River in Florida have a relatively large oil globule, which makes the eggs more buoyant than those from many other populations (Setzler et al. 1980). Similar adaptations may occur in stocks that spawn in tidally influenced areas, where eggs are buoyed by the ebb and flood of tidal currents. In the absence of sufficient current velocities, eggs settle to the bottom and may be smothered by sediment." 

 

"Table 2. Spawning sites of striped bass in the South Atlantic Region...State and river system...Florida St. Johns River...Major spawning site...Oklawaha River, Wekiva River, Black Creek, and Dunn's Creek...Source...Barkuloo (1970)..." 

 

NOTE: Wekiva River (Wekiwa Springs to St. Johns River) is only about 14 stream miles; Black Creek (S.R. 16 to tidal St. Johns River) is only about 24 stream miles; Dunns Creek (Crescent Lake to tidal St. Johns River) is only about 6 stream miles.

 

"Adults feed actively throughout the year (Hollis 1952; Holland and Yelverton 1973), primarily just after dark and just before dawn (Raney 1952), although they may not eat just before and during spawning (Hollis 1952; Stevens 1966; Trent and Hassler 1966; Manooch 1973; Woodhull 1947; Hassler and Hill 1981)." 

 

"Temperatures at which spawning has been observed in the South Atlantic Region have been as low as 14 C and as high as 24 C (Scruggs 1957; May an Fuller 1965; Smith 1973; Barkuloo 1967). In general, the temperatures associated with spawning increase progressively southward, from North Carolina to Florida." 

 

"Adequate current velocity is a key factor influencing the survival of striped bass eggs (Mansueti 1958; Albrecht 1964; Regan et al. 1968). A velocity of 30.5 cm/s maintains the eggs in suspension (Albrecht 1964). At lower velocities, eggs may settle onto the bottom substrate and suffocate."  

 

"Spawning fish are reportedly attracted to velocities above 156 cm/s (Fish and McCoy 1959)..."


"In the South Atlantic Region, dam construction has restricted upstream migrations..." 
 

 


23.  Brody (1994) SJRWMD report about the St. Johns River basin:

"Endemic striped bass are having only very limited reproductive success, if any: no native striped bass young-of-the-year have been reported during several surveys, and hatchery reared juvenile stripers and sunshine bass (hybrids) maintain the fishery." 

 

 

24.  Jordan (1994) fisheries report:

"Discussions with veteran commercial fishermen revealed that striped bass were common to abundant in the Ocklawaha River up to Moss Bluff Dam, while anadromous shad were common but did not spawn in the river. Adult American eel were probably more abundant historically, but have undergone a decline in the Ocklawaha River and throughout the St. Johns River. These observations support the limited historical information on migratory fish usage of the Ocklawaha River. Therefore, it appears that Rodman Dam poses a barrier to the spread of a variety of migratory fishes that historically used the river system." 

 

"It is currently speculated that the population endemic to the St. Johns River is no longer contributing to the standing stock of striped bass and its hybrids (i.e., native population extirpated and replaced by hatchery stocks; unpublished data, FGFWFC). Dams have contributed significantly to the demise of striped bass throughout its historic range (Rulifson et al. 1982). Furthermore, it has been suspected that the collapse of the St. Johns River population may be related to the construction of Rodman Dam, because the Ocklawaha River was probably a major spawning ground (McLane 1955)." 

 


25.  Clugston (2002) fisheries report:

"The table of native fishes in the Ocklawaha River system provided by Continental Shelf Associates, Inc (1994) indicates that striped bass rarely were caught in the river and reservoir. However, there is little doubt that they were seasonally common in the unaltered river system. McLane (1955) reported striped bass presence in the Ocklawaha River upstream to the Moss Bluff Dam. Barkuloo (1962) described large numbers in Silver Springs during the summer. About 400 were counted by SCUBA divers from the spring to a point 4.5 miles downstream in Silver River. They were an important attraction to tourists riding glass-bottom boats at the spring. The junction of Silver River and the Ocklawaha River was a popular fishing location for striped bass at that time. More recently, Jordan (1994a) failed to collect striped bass between January and June, 1994, in the reservoir and river, but he did collect them from the barge canal downstream of the lock. However, probably every Spring to date since the completion of the dam, local newspapers have reported excellent striped bass fishing in the Ocklawaha River at the base of Rodman Dam. The presence of striped bass carcasses in the reservoir during two fish kills in the late 1980's indicate that some passed into the reservoir via the lock (Florida Department of Environmental Protection 1997). None were seen in a September 2000 fish kill (R. W. Hujik, FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, personal communication). Striped bass are no longer seen by tourists riding glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs. There is no doubt that the Rodman Dam stops upstream migration of striped bass in the Ocklawaha River." 

 

"Although some striped bass still pass into the reservoir through the lock, numbers are greatly reduced as evident by their absence at Silver Springs and the most recent fish kill, and the large numbers stopped at the dam and caught there by fishermen every Spring. More important, the Ocklawaha River is one of the few tributaries of the St. Johns River that met spawning habitat requirements of striped bass. Construction of the reservoir reduced the length of this free-flowing river to a size no longer suitable for striped bass spawning."

 

 

26.  Florida Department of Environmental Protection (2002) basin status report:

"The current configuration of lock and dam limits or restricts access by some migratory fish to the Ocklawaha River; most notably the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), mullet, and American shad (Alosa sapidissima). Prior to the construction of the Kirkpatrick Dam, striped bass were found as far upstream as Moss Bluff Lock and Dam and Silver Springs (Clugston, 2002)." 

 

 

27.  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2003) striped bass data webpage:

"Spawning Habits - Spawns in March, April and May when water temperatures reach 60 to 68 degrees. Stripers are river spawners that broadcast millions of eggs in the water currents without affording any protection or parental care. During spawning, seven or eight smaller males surround a single, large, female and bump her to swifter currents at the water surface. At ovulation, ripe eggs are discharged and scattered in the water as males release sperm. Fertilized eggs must be carried by river currents until hatching (about 48 hours) to avoid suffocation. Fry and fingerlings spend most of their time in lower rivers and estuaries. Because striped bass eggs must remain suspended in a current until hatching, impoundments are unsuitable for natural reproduction. Freshwater populations have been maintained by stocking fingerlings, and, despite initial difficulties in hatchery procedures for obtaining females with freely flowing eggs, a modern technique of inducing ovulation with the use of a hormone has been successful." 

 

 

28.  Munch et al. (2007) ecology report about Silver Springs:

"Water temperature remains at approximately 23.2 C, virtually identical to both Brinton's and Odum's measurements in 1856 and 1951, respectively."  

 

NOTE: 23.2 degrees C equals about 73.76 degrees F.

 

"Diffusion rate was measured in areas with differing flow velocities ranging from about 1.5 to 47 cm/s." 

 

NOTE: Stream velocity in the upper 1200 m of Silver River was measured at 47 cm/sec (1.05 mph). 

 

"Another factor long recognized as having an important impact on the Silver River fish populations and therefore the entire aquatic ecosystem is the Rodman Dam on the Ocklawaha River downstream. Both Knight (1980) and Odum (1976) implicated the dam in changing populations of seagoing fish species through physical blockage of their migrations and breeding success. Odum suggested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construct a fish ladder around the dam while Knight proposed testing his theories about consumer control by removing the dam entirely."

 

 

29.  Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (2009) striped bass data webpage:

"The striped bass can live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. In coastal populations, individuals may ascend streams and travel as much as 100 miles inland to spawn. There are land-locked populations that complete their entire life cycle in freshwater. These generally ascend tributaries of the lakes or reservoirs where they spend their lives. Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures approach 60°F. Typically, one female is accompanied by several males during the spawning act. Running water is necessary to keep eggs in motion until hatching. In general, at least 50 miles of stream is required for successful hatches." 

 

"The striped bass is a coastal species that moves far upstream during spawning migrations in coastal rivers. The native range is along the Atlantic coast east of the Appalachian Mountains from New Brunswick south to Florida and west into Louisiana. The species has been introduced at scattered locations throughout the central US. There have also been introductions as far west as the Colorado River in Arizona, and at various sites in California. Although not native to Texas, the species has been stocked in a number of reservoirs. Because stream flow is required for a successful hatch, most reservoir populations are not self-sustaining and must be maintained through stocking. One notable exception is Lake Texoma along the Red River in northeastern Texas." 

 


30.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2010) "Welaka National Fish Hatchery" web pages:

"Sport and commercial fishermen alike are experiencing dwindling catches of striped bass along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Annual catches in the 7,000 metric ton range (25-30 million dollars) dropped to less than 2,000 metric tons (4-5 million dollars) signaling a major problem within the striped bass fishery. While all the reasons for this decline are not entirely known, it is agreed that a combination including loss of habitat, construction of dams, dredging of rivers, over fishing and various forms of pollution are contributing and interwoven factors."  

 

"Gulf race striped bass are considered anadromous but for the most part are riverine in nature. When water temperatures start to rise (mid-February in Florida) mature males begin spawning runs up freshwater rivers and streams. The females follow and when they arrive at selected areas, usually spawn with several males. Semi-buoyant eggs are deposited directly into the water, as is the sperm. The eggs, if fertilized, hatch after 36-42 hours under normal conditions. This is the most crucial period for young stripers. The water current must be strong enough, and the river distance long enough to keep the eggs and young from settling to the river bottom, where silt would smother them. This period lasts several days and the correct amount of clean, flowing water is essential."  

 

"The reasons for the decline of native striped bass along the northern Gulf coast are speculative. Environmental alterations in the form of water control structures and extensive channelization may have prevented successful reproduction. Dams not only prohibit migration upstream eliminating prime spawning habitat, but also reduce access to cool water springs which are crucial for large striped bass to survive the hot summer months. Industrial and agricultural pollution have also been implicated as probable causes of the drastic decline of striped bass."

 

 

31.  Georgia Department of Natural Resources (2010) striped bass data webpage:

"In early April, the water temperature rises to 60oF, which stimulates striped bass to move far upstream to the spawning grounds.  Striped bass may migrate as much as 180 miles upstream to find swift, freshwater currents suitable for spawning. Males arrive at the spawning grounds several days to weeks before the females.  When the females arrive, small groups of males surround a single female. Depending on her body size, a mature female may carry between 500,000 and 4 million eggs.  As she releases her eggs, the males fertilize the eggs as they drift downstream.  The next few days are the most critical time in a striped bass' life because eggs must remain suspended in the water to survive.  At least 50-miles of free-flowing river are necessary for striped bass eggs to hatch successfully. Within 72 hours, the fertilized eggs will transform into a newly hatched striped bass fry."

 

 

32.  Miller et al. (2012) SJRWMD fisheries chapter of water supply impact study:

"Even though it continues to support valuable commercial and recreation fisheries, the fish community of the St. Johns River today is impaired compared to the community present 50 years ago. Native striped bass (Morone saxatilis) were extirpated and populations are now maintained by stocking northern and hybrid strains (M. Hale, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) pers. comm.; Holder et al. 2007)."

 

 

33.  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2012) "Rodman Reservoir Historical Perspective":

"Dr. O.E. Frye, former Executive Director of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC), wrote a letter on March 31, 1971 to then Governor Reubin Askew stating the GFC’s position regarding the Reservoir.  Dr. Frye stated that 'The Rodman Pool should be drained to restore the Ocklawaha River flood plain to its original scenic qualities.  While it is tempting to retain a reservoir that has produced good fishing in its three years of existence, we feel obligated to evaluate it in terms of its ecological impact over a period of more than its short lifespan.'  Dr. Frye’s justifications for this position included the proliferation of aquatic macrophytes, cost of removing floating trees for many years, saving trees currently inundated, removing the barrier that prevented annual striped bass migration, and relieving the tax burden created by the Reservoir as opposed to a near tax-free restored river." 

 

"Striped bass – Florida is the southern-most natural location for striped bass in North America.  The St. Johns River and its tributaries are the only locations where the Atlantic strain occurs in Florida, and historically never produced large population numbers.  Striped bass population data from the 1980’s through the 2000’s strongly suggests that no natural reproduction is occurring in the St. Johns River.  The federal hatchery in Welaka, Florida currently attempts to stock striped bass annually.  Following the three years that striped bass were not stocked, no representatives of those missing year classes were observed.  These stocked striped bass have been documented from the middle reaches of the St. Johns River near Lake Monroe all the way to the Nassau River.   

 

"The prevailing thought before construction of the Kirkpatrick Dam was that striped bass spawning would be disrupted and their upstream passage in the Ocklawaha River would be impeded.   While no definitive proof exists that the Kirkpatrick Dam prevented striped bass from naturally spawning, limited movement of striped bass through the Buckman Locks has been documented."

 

 

34.  Gilmore (2012) Florida Sportsman magazine article:

"Based on historical fishing records it appears that the last holdout for striped bass spawning grounds on the Florida east coast was the Ocklawaha River. All of today's stripers caught in the St. Johns River are hatchery reared fish

 

"So what happened to the Ocklawaha spawning population? Its demise was likely caused by a dam and other barriers on the lower reaches of the Ocklawaha River and a plan to cross Florida with a barge canal. The canal was squelched in the 1970s after much construction had already taken place, including the construction of the Rodman Dam and Reservoir. This changed water flows, eliminated riffle habitat that did exist, and most notably, produced a barrier to striper migration. There may have been some holdout stripers spawning after the dam construction, but today there is no evidence that stripers spawn naturally anywhere along the Florida east coast.

 

"Anyone who has played a striper on the line has got to admit that it is just as much fun, or more so, than a big largemouth bass. So why not bring back the striped bass spawning population to the Ocklawaha River? Why not figure out a way to get these great gamefish past the Rodman Dam?

"The local economic benefit of having the only native spawning striper fishery in Florida could be sensational."

 

 

35.  Keene (2014) webpage article:

"Even though a female may lay as many as 3 million eggs at one time, good luck finding a native striped bass on Florida's east coast.

 

"The St Johns River, listed as the southernmost river in North America suitable for the popular game fish to spawn, has been incapable of supporting a spawn run since 1968, when the Kirkpatrick Dam was built across the Ocklawaha River. The dam paralyzed upstream access to the cool, fast flowing water essential for the bass's successful reproduction.

 

"'We're at the southern temperature range for striped bass,' said retired fisheries biologist Jim Clugston. 'The basic biology of any fish is a temperature range in which they can live, another in which they feed and grow best, and another smaller temperature range required to spawn.'"

 

"Believed to live up to 30 years, 2- to 4-year-old striped bass migrate into swift-flowing, freshwater rivers to spawn. Seven to eight males will typically surround a female around dusk, bumping her toward swift currents at the river's surface. The female will broadcast up to 3 million eggs into the current. Discharged eggs are then fertilized by the released sperm of males. At this point, the semi-buoyant fertilized eggs must float in river currents for approximately 48 hours. If the eggs fall to the river bottom, they will suffocate. The historically free-flowing Ocklawaha River's 56-mile length and approximate one-mile-per-hour current provided the necessary 48-hour flow that would have allowed striper eggs to hatch.

 

"The Kirkpatrick Dam, however, severed the river, eliminating any possibility of natural spawning while mimicking a common pattern in rivers along the Atlantic coastline where construction of dams and declines in water quality decimated migratory fish populations, including striped bass. In the northeast, for instance, an average of seven dams interrupts every 100 miles of river.

 

"'The dam has stopped the migration of many fishes from the St Johns up the river. It's very obvious with the striped bass,' said Clugston. 'There are ample pictures showing striped bass in the Silver Springs area before the dam was constructed.'"

 

 

36.  Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (2015) "Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership Spring 2015 Meeting Summary":

"I think all these issues are addressed. The corrections are too slow in coming! Lost in a quagmire of public debates and miss used funding to restudy the same issue. Money wasted on paper work and not on the physical solution. Breaching a dam that everyone except a small handful of people [sic] should not take 45 years."

 

"56 river miles of Florida's Ocklawaha River‐‐the southernmost suitable striped bass spawning habitat in the U.S.‐‐needs to be restored to freeflowing again from Silver Springs to the St. Johns River which would be made possible by the breaching of Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam."

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 2015. "Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership Spring 2015 Meeting Summary" (April 20-22, 2015; page 190 of 328).

http://www.atlanticfishhabitat.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/ACFHP_SteeringCommPresentations_Spring2015.pdf

Also in http://www.asmfc.org/files/ACFHP/ACFHP_SteeringCommPresentations_Part2_Spring2015.pdf

 

Bacon, J. H. and W. M. Black. 1891. "Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army; Appendix O - Report of Captain Black (page 1623); Improvement of the Ocklawaha River, Florida; Report of Mr. J. H. Bacon, Assistant Engineer, United States Engineer Department, St. Augustine, Fla., May 11, 1891." U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

http://books.google.com/books?id=A35NAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1621&lpg=PA1621&dq=%22Report+of+the+Chief+of+Engineers%22+%22Ocklawaha+River%22+%221891%22&source=bl&ots=uvsoNDrZU9&sig=ho0B2VciR_L1HXfK_RtZf05QKFY&hl=en&ei=veZHToj2Ferp0QHZ5rWECA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Bain, M. B. and J. L. Bain. 1982. Habitat suitability index models: coastal stocks of striped bass. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/wdb/pub/hsi/hsi-001.pdf 

 

Barkuloo, J. M. 1967. Florida striped bass. Fishery Bulletin No. 4. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee, FL. https://sites.google.com/site/ocklawahamanpaulnoscareports/1967-florida-striped-bass-ocklawaha-river-to-silver-springs

 

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A striped bass from the Ochlockonee River basin near Tallahassee, Florida

 

REFERENCE AS:  Nosca, P. 2019. "Striped bass of the Ocklawaha River, Florida" webpage report. "Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca reports" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL.

https://sites.google.com/site/ocklawahamanpaulnoscareports/striped-bass-of-the-ocklawaha-river-florida

https://sites.google.com/site/ocklawahaman/striped-bass-of-the-ocklawaha-river 

 

 

 

Email: ocklawahaman1@gmail.com 

 

End.

Ċ
Paul Nosca,
Mar 12, 2016, 7:53 AM
ĉ
Paul Nosca,
Aug 3, 2017, 1:56 PM
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