Guy Harvey Magazine

SPR 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 33 of 83

34 | GHM: Striped bass are seriously loving life in South Carolina. Can you give us a little history? FS: When the Santee and Cooper rivers were dammed back in the 1940s, it essentially trapped striped bass within the reservoir system. After a number of years, young striped bass were still being captured in the lakes, and it was determined that natural reproduction was occurring within the lake system. Most people think striped bass need to go to the ocean to complete their life cycle, but these fish don't need the saltwater phase—they grow and mature in freshwater. Our stripers are not truly anadromous—needing saltwater to spawn—they stay in freshwater and go upstream into the rivers to spawn. GHM: Are they the same species as the saltwater stripers? FS: Yes, it's the same species. GHM: Can you enlighten us about the hormone techniques that were developed in S.C.? FS: Maybe your everyday fisherman is unaware, but in fishery circles, most people who work with striped bass know that hormone induction techniques originated in S.C. in the 1960s. HCG is injected in female striped bass and about 30 hours later, an egg sample is obtained and observed under a microscope to predict when they'll spawn. We will check the female at the predicted time and see if she's ready. We do this by squeezing her belly. If eggs flow freely then she's ready to spawn. If we don't see any eggs, we will usually give her another two hours then check again. The critical part of the spawning process is to spawn the female at the appropriate time. Once the eggs are ripe, they will stay ripe for about 30 minutes and then they will go overripe and won't fertilize. Once eggs are flowing freely, we will anesthetize the fish and then squeeze her belly, allowing the eggs to flow into a pan. At that point, we use three male striped bass to fertilize the eggs by squeezing their bellies to expel milt into the egg pan. Water is added and the eggs begin fertilizing. After one minute, the water is drained from the pan and the eggs are poured into incubation jars where they incubate for 48 hours and begin to hatch. GHM: How many striped bass do you raise annually? FS: At Bayless, we produce about 11 to 12 million larvae. Then we stock our 55 ponds and others hatcheries in the state. Stocking that many larvae into rearing ponds usually produces about five million striped bass fingerlings. Interview with FORREST SESSIONS Project Leader, Bayless Fish Hatchery and Dennis Wildlife Center 34 | Forrest Sessions squeezes the belly of a large female striped bass to release eggs for fertilization. Photo: Courtesy of Forrest Sessions.

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