- The largest Striped Bass ever was caught from the Black Warrior River in Alabama by James Bramlett on February 28th, 2013.
- A large portion of the Striped Bass population lives on the East Coast of the U.S., with many in rivers and lakes with direct connections to the ocean.
- Most Striped Bass weigh between 20 – 40 pounds. Bramlett’s record-breaking catch weighed a whopping 69 pounds 9 ounces.
Many people associate Alabama with college football, but the state also has a long-standing sportfishing tradition. Bassmaster holds many tournaments throughout the region, and several anglers have hauled record-breaking catches in various locations.
For instance, the largest Striped Bass ever caught was from the Black Warrior River, while one of the biggest Alligator Gar came from the Tensaw River. Regardless of where you’re fishing, there’s always a chance of hooking the next big one.
The following sections will examine one of the most common fishes swimming in Alabama waters, the Striped Bass (Striper), and the man who managed to land the record-breaking catch.
What Is a Striped Bass
The Striped Bass population inhabiting Alabama consists of two different types of species, the Gulf Coast Striped Bass and the Atlantic Coast Striped Bass. Generally, all kinds of Striped Bass have six to nine distinguished dark stripes running from their gills to their tails. Along with the classic lines, these fish also feature a streamlined body with black, blue, olive green, or brown tops.
How Big Do Striped Bass Grow?
Stripers are considered medium-sized fish and often reach a weight of 20 to 40 pounds. However, it’s typically expected for a Striped Bass weighing more than 30 pounds to be female, as males tend to be smaller. The length of these popular fish can vary, but most adults range from 20 to 24 inches.
Where Does Striped Bass Live?
While a large portion of the Striped Bass population lives on the East Coast of the United States, many thrive in rivers and lakes with direct connections to the ocean. It’s common for these fish to inhabit different bodies of water during their breeding season when they travel from saltwater to freshwater to lay their eggs.
One of the best places to find Stripers is to look downstream from their spawning beds. Generally, they’ll hide out around bridges or along the sides of deep channels, waiting to mate. This spot is also a great location to look for fish after the eggs from the run begin to hatch.
What Do Striped Bass Eat?
A Striper’s diet depends on the fish’s size and age. In their larval stage, young fish eat primarily microscopic organisms known as zooplankton. As juvenile Striped Bass grow, they expand their diet to include slightly larger prey such as mysid shrimp and amphipods.
Before adulthood, prey for Stripers expands to include a more diverse selection of worms, small crustaceans, and insect larvae. The last change in the Striped Bass’s eating habits occurs as it grows fully. At this stage, their diet now includes everything from small fish to eels, crabs, and lobsters.
James Bramlett’s Record-Breaking Catch
James Bramlett had always been an avid fisherman with hundreds of catches. However, he had little idea that when he ventured out to Black Warrior River on February 28th, 2013, he would be face to face with a record-breaking fish.
Utilizing a 10-inch shad bait, James set his line in the water and waited. It didn’t take long before he felt the familiar tug of a fish on the line, but he soon realized it wouldn’t be an easy catch. The angler fought with the fish for nearly 25 minutes before reeling it in. James knew he had hooked something big as the fish came out of the water.
James got the fish weight on certified scales and was shocked to learn the massive Striped Bass was a staggering 69 pounds, 9 ounces, making it the largest caught in the state. While everyone celebrated the record-breaking catch, there were talks about whether the fish may be the largest ever seen in the world.
Local fishery biologist Heath Haley also closely examined the fish after the catch and had the following to say about the Striper:
“This fish certainly, in my opinion, was an anomaly. It’s a very fat, chinky fish. With the previous record being 55 pounds, and the fact that no one has broken it since the 1950s, it’s just incredible that not only he broke it, but he shattered it. You Just don’t see them that big that often.”
Where is the Black Warrior River Located on a Map?
The Black Warrior River, the site of the record-breaking Striped Bass catch, is a waterway in west-central Alabama. The river forms approximately 25 miles west of Birmingham and flows 178 miles to the Tombigbee River.
Previous World Record Striped Bass
After further investigation and a discussion with the International Game Fish Association, James’ haul beat the previous record for the largest Striped Bass. The world record for freshwater striped bass had belonged to Hank Ferguson, who caught a 67-pound Striper in San Luis, California, over 20 years ago.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock.com
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