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Glossary of fishing terms
Fishing Definitions - equipment definitions and slang fishing terms
Acclimate -- The adaptation of
an organism to environmental changes.
Aeration Tank -- A chamber used to inject air
Affluent (Stream) -- A stream or river that flows
into a larger one; a Tributary.
Alewife -- a food fish of the
herring family that is very abundant on the Atlantic coast; the
alewife entered the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal in the
1940s and frequently die-off in large numbers because they are
not well adapted to life in freshwater.
Age-class -- A group of individuals of a certain
species that have the same age.
Anadromous -- Fish that hatch rear in fresh water,
migrate to the ocean (salt water) to grow and mature, and migrate
back to fresh water to spawn and reproduce.
Anal fin -- The fin located on the ventral median
line and behind the anus.
Angler -- One who uses a rod
and reel to catch any species of fish.
Backlash -- Fouled or tangled
line on an open faced reel.
Backshore -- The
upper part of the active Beach above the normal reach of the tides
(high water), but affected by large waves occurring during a high.
The seaward return of the water following the uprush of the waves.
Bag limit -- Restriction in the number of fish
that an angler may retain, generally on a per trip or daily basis.
Bail -- A metal, semicircular arm on an open-
faced spinning reel that engages the line after a cast.
Bail arm -- On a spinning reel, the lever determines
the direction of the spool.
Bait -- Food placed on a hook or in a net, trap,
or fishing area to entice fish or other animals as prey. An object
or organism used to attract an animal; live fish are attached to
hooks and used as bait in the tuna fishery.
Baitcasting -- fishing with a revolving-spool
reel attached on top of a bait casting rod. Most often used by
novice or experienced anglers.
Baitfish -- Smaller fish in the food chain used
for bait to catch larger predator fish.
A term used to describe the proper combination of rod, reel line,
Bar -- An offshore ridge or
mound of sand, gravel or other unconsolidated material which is
submerged (at least at high tide), especially at the mouth of a
river or estuary, or lying parallel to, and a short distance from,
Barb -- The nick on the point of a hook. It is
intended to keep the hook from backing out of a fish's mouth after
it has been hooked.
Barbless hook -- A hook made without a barb, or
a hook on which the barb has been crimped or flattened. This is
the hook style of choice for catch-and-release fishing.
Barometric pressure -- (atmospheric
The pressure at any point in an atmosphere due solely to the weight of the atmospheric
gases above the point concerned.
Barrier beach -- A bar essentially parallel to
the shore, which has been built up so that its crest rises above
the normal high water level. Also called barrier island and offshore
Barrier island -- A detached
portion of a barrier beach between two inlets.
Basin -- A large depression
of a generally circular, elliptical or oval shape.
A recess or inlet in the shore of a sea or lake between two capes
or headlands, not as large as a gulf but larger than a cove. See
Basiobranchial -- The small bones behind the tongue on which the gill
Beach head -- The cliff, dune
or sea wall looming the landward limit of the active beach.
Bight -- A indentation in a
coast forming an open bay, usually crescent shaped.
Brood stock -- Adult fish used to propagate the subsequent generation
of hatchery fish.
Blank -- A rod without a handle,
guides or reel seat.
Blank rod --
The fiberglass or graphite shaft or rod without any guides or hardware
Bluff -- A high, steep bank
The term used to describe the frenzy of a Striper attack on a
school of baitfish. The water surface appears to be boiling. (or)
An upward flow of water in a sandy formation due to an unbalanced
hydrostatic pressure resulting from a rise in a nearby stream.
Brackish water -- Water with
a salt content between 1000 and 4000 parts per million.
Breaker -- A wave that has become
so steep that the crest of the wave topples forward, moving faster
than the main body of the wave.
Buccal -- Pertaining to the cheeks or the cavity of the mouth.
Bulkhead -- A structure separating
land and water areas, primarily designed to resist earth pressures.
Buoyancy -- The tendency of a body to float or rise when submerged
in a fluid.
Bunker - Menhaden - Aka pogie - soft oily baitfish forage - sometimes referred to as the most important fish in the sea because of its ability as a filter feeder to clean water and detritus off of the Ocean and bay floors. main forage of mainy inshore species of fish. Spawns mainly in the Chesapeake bay region. Migrates northward in the spring and returns in the fall.
Buzzbaits -- These are like
a spinnerbait, but have a flat blade that causes it to rise quickly
to the top, and create a disturbance along the surface like a minnow.
Cape -- A relatively extensive
land area jutting seaward from a continent or large island which
prominently marks a change in, or interrupts notably, the coastal
trend; a prominent feature.
Carnivorous -- Feeding on animal tissues.
Cartilaginous fishes -- A major group of fishes including sharks and
Cast -- The act of imparting
energy to a fishing rod in such a way that the line and leader
project a bait or lure to a target some distance away.
Catadromous -- Refers to fishes that migrate from fresh water to salt
water to spawn or reproduce such as the American eel.
Caudal -- Pertaining to the tail.
Caudal fin -- The tail fin.
Caudal peduncle -- The tapering portion of a fish's body between the
posterior edge of the anal fin base and the base of the caudal fin.
Channel -- The part of a body of water deep enough
to be used for navigation through an area otherwise too shallow
Circle Hook -- Hooks designed to reduce
mortality in fish by lessening the chance of gut hooking a fish.
Current -- Generally, a horizontal
movement of water. Currents may be classified as tidal and non-tidal.
Tidal currents are caused by gravitational interactions between
the Sun, Moon, and Earth.
Crankbaits -- These are usually
sinking lures, that are made from plastic, that contain rattles
insidedesigned to create a disturbance underwater. Such lures as
the Rat-L-Trap, and Rapala Rattlin Rap, fall into this category.
Depthfinder -- An electric
device that is used to detect the geography beneath the waters
surface. Also used as a fishfinder.
Distal -- Away from the point of attachment or origin.
Diurnal -- Having a period or
cycle of approximately one tidal day.
Dorsal -- Pertaining to the back, or situated near to or on the back.
Dorsal fin -- The fin located on the back of fishes, and in front
of the adipose fin, if it is present.
Downrigger -- A mechanical device
that uses larger weights to get fishing lures or bait down to a
specific depth and keep it there.
depth of water needed to float a ship.
Drag -- The mechanical system
in a reel that applies friction to the spool.
Drift current -- A broad, shallow,
slow-moving ocean or lake current.
Dropline -- A deepwater fishing
method involving the use of a vertical line bearing rows of baited
Eddy -- A current of air, water,
or any fluid, forming on the side of the main current, especially
one moving in a circle; in extreme cases a whirlpool.
Eelgrass -- A submerged marine
plant with very long narrow leaves.
Emigration -- Referring to the movement of organisms out of an area.
See immigration and migrating.
Estuary -- A water passage where
the tide meets a river current; especially : an arm of the sea
at the lower end of a river.
Euryhaline -- Having a wide tolerance to salinity.
Even-year run -- A population of fish that returns to its natural
spawning grounds in even numbered years.
Eye -- The loop at the end of
a hook shank
Fall-run fish -- Anadromous fish that return to
spawn in the fall.
Fecundity -- The total number of eggs produced by a female fish.
Filet knife -- A thin, sharp
knife used to clean and filet fish
Refers to a young fish in its first or second year of life.
An electric device that is used to detect fish beneath a boat. Also used to
detect the geography of the land and the depth of the water
Fishing Gear -- The equipment used for fishing, e.g. gillnet, handline,
harpoon, seine, longline, midwater trawl, purse seine, rod-and-reel,
trap, trawler, ect. but not vessels.
Fishing Mortality --Deaths in a fish stock caused
Fishing Mortality Rate -- The fraction of an initial stock which would
be caught during the year (or season) if no other causes of mortality
Fishway -- A device made up of a series of stepped pools, similar
to a staircase, that enables adult fish to migrate up the river past
Fluvial -- Migrating between main rivers and tributaries. Of or pertaining
to streams or rivers.
Fly line -- A specially designed
line for fly fishing, usually 80 to 90 feet long. It supplies the
weight needed to cast relatively weightless flies.
Fly reel -- The device that
holds fly line. It gives the angler a mechanical drag system with
which to exert resistance on hooked fish.
Fly rod -- The central element
of any balanced fly-fishing outfit; it's used to cast the fly line,
mend the line after the cast, and play hooked fish.
Forage Fish -- Small fish which breed prolifically and serve as food
for predatory fish.
Game fish -- A fish that is regulated by law for recreational harvest.
Gape -- To open the mouth wide. In Zoological terms, it means the
measurement of the widest possible opening of a mouth.
Gear ratio -- In reference to
the amount of times that the spool of a reel rotates while the
handle is rotated once.
Gills -- The fleshy, and highly vascular organs comparable to lungs
used in aquatic respiration.
Gill nets -- A flat net suspended
vertically in the water with meshes that allow the head of a fish
to pass but entangle it at withdrawal.
Googan - Interchangeable slang meaning -
1. A person who thinks he's a fisherman - knows everything and doest have a clue.
2. Sometimes a newbie to the sport is referred to as a googan.
3. Person in possession of a white bucket not loaded with eels.
4. Person fishing with freshwater outfit in a dangerous saltewater environment
5. Person who doesnt take the proper safety precautions nor uses the proper equipment.
6. Person who leaves trash around and has no respect for the environment or other fishermen
7. Total lack of fishing etiquette
8. Total asshole
9. Person who would put his family at risk while attempting to fish in a dangerous bolder field or reef.
Short for Global Positioning System
, a worldwide satellite navigational system formed
by 24 satellites orbiting the earth and their corresponding receivers on the
By using three satellites, GPS can calculate the longitude and latitude of the
receiver based on where the three spheres intersect. By using four satellites,
GPS can also determine altitude. GPS was developed and is operated
by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was originally called NAVSTAR (Navigation
System with Timing and Ranging). Before its civilian applications, GPS was used
to provide all-weather round-the-clock navigation capabilities for
military ground, sea, and air forces.
The loops on a rod through which the line runs
Refers to all Larus and Rissa (Family Laridae). True gulls and
Harbor -- A water area nearly
surrounded by land, sea walls, breakwaters or artificial dikes,
forming a safe anchorage for ships.
Healthy stock -- A stock of fish experiencing production levels consistent
with its available habitat and within the natural variations in survival
for the stock.
High Tide --
The maximum height reached by a rising tide.
An exceptionally large fish; also known as a "lunker";
Husbandry -- The scientific management and control of the hatchery
environment for the production of fish or wildlife.
Hydrology -- The science dealing with the study
of water on the surface of the land, in the soil and underlying
rocks, and in the atmosphere.
Ichthyology -- The scientific study of fishes.
Indigenous -- Any species of
wildlife native to a given land or water area by natural occurrence.
Inshore -- The region where
waves are transformed by interaction with the sea bed.
Interorbital -- The space between the eyes.
Invertebrate drift -- Stream and terrestrial invertebrates that float
with the current.
A structure usually projecting out into the Sea at the mouth of a river for
the purpose of protecting a navigational channel, a harbor or to influence water
Jigging -- Using a rod and reel
in such a way as to present artificial lures in short, jerking
Juvenile -- Fish from one year of age until sexual maturity.
Knot -- The unit of speed used
Enclosed by land, or nearly enclosed, as a harbor
Lead Core --
encased in Dacron or nylon.
Wire lines (thin strands of stainless steel wire.
Both are extremely heavy compared to other lines and used for trolling at substantial
depths, often 100 feet or more. They have little or no stretch and sink at a
rapid rate. Due to their high visibility and large diameter, a monofilament
leader (up to 50 feet long) is almost always attached between a wire or lead-core
line and the lure.
Leader -- Most often, a piece
of monofilament or flourocarbon, of unequal strength than that
of the main line used to insure the ability to catch larger game
fish on lighter lines.
Leeward -- The direction toward
which the prevailing wind is blowing; the direction toward which
waves are travelling.
Limnology -- The study of lakes, ponds and streams.
Line capacity -- The amount
or length of monofilament, that can fit on to the spool of a reel.
Line guides -- The objects in
which the fishing line runs through while traveling on a fishing
rod, usually ceramic or plastic.
Littoral zone -- The region of land bordering a body of water.
Living fish, eels or worms used to entice prey.
Live-well -- A special compartment
on a boat that keeps fish alive so they can be released at a later
Mandibular -- Pertaining to the lower jaw.
Maxillae or maxillaries -- The upper jaw, the upper jaw bones.
Mergansers -- Ducks with long,
narrow serrated-edged bills, feeding primarily on fish.
Minnow -- A small fish used
by fishermen to catch other fish. Another name for some Killifish
Migrant -- Life stage of anadromous and resident fish species which
moves from one locale, habitat or system (river or ocean) to another.
Migrating -- Moving from one area of residence to another.
Milt -- The sperm of fishes.
Monofilament -- A single strand
Natal -- Birth place.
Natal stream -- Stream of birth.
Natural Mortality -- Deaths in a fish stock caused
by predation, pollution, senility, etc., but not fishing.
Nautical mile --
Its length is 1852 meters (6076.115 feet), approximately 1.15 times
as long as the statute mile of 5280 feet.
Pectoral fins -- The anterior(front) paired fins, attached to pectoral
Pelagic -- Of or in the open ocean or open water.
Pelvic fins -- Posterior paired fins, located
in the abdominal position or towards the rear.
Pier -- A structure,
usually of open construction, extending out into the water from
the shore, to serve as a landing place, recreational facility,
etc., rather than to afford coastal protection.
Pile -- A long substantial pole of wood, concrete
or metal, driven into the earth or sea bed to serve as a support
Plug -- A free swimming lure.
One that travels from side to side and not just straight.
Poppers -- Topwater lures that
can call up fish from long distance. They can be worked in a steady
relatively fast retrieve, or jerked and made to splash or sit in
Precocious -- Fish that have matured quickly, or faster than the remaining
fish of its age-class.
Predation -- Hunting and killing another animal for food.
Reef -- A ridge of rock or other
material lying just below the surface of the sea.
Reel seat -- The section of
a rod that clamps down the reel so it is secure
Reproduce -- To produce offspring.
Resident species --Species
of fish which spend their entire lives in freshwater.
Rip current --
A strong surface current of short duration flowing seaward
from the shore. It usually appears as a visible band of agitated
water and is the return movement of water piled up on the shore
by incoming waves and wind.
Rips -- Agitation of water caused
by the meeting of currents or by rapid current setting over an
Rockfish -- Another common name for the striped
bass (morone saxitalis)
Roller guide -- A heavy duty big game style guide
with an internal bearing system that eliminates heat and abrasion
on fishing line.
Sea grass -- Members of marine
seed plants that grow chiefly on sand or sand-mud bottom. They
are most abundant in water less than 9 m deep. The common types
are: Eel grass (Zostera), Turtle grass (Thallasia) and Manatee
Sediment -- The organic material that is transported and deposited
by wind and water.
To proceed from a greater to a lesser depth of water.
Silt -- Substrate particles smaller than sand and larger than clay.
Single action -- A reel where
the handle is attached directly to the spool, without the aid of
-- a weight that sinks (as to hold nets or fishing lines under water)
Sinkerslide-- sometimes referred
to as a fishfinder rig. A plastic slider that slides up and down
the standing line so the fish doesnt feel the weight of your sinker
attached to the slider.
Slack Water -- Standing tide,
slack water occurs at the time of high and of low water.
Slip sinker -- A lead weight
with a hole through the center that slides freely up and down fishing
line unless altered by a swivel or a split shot .
Spawn -- The act of reproduction of fishes. The mixing of the sperm
of a male fish and the eggs of a female fish.
Spinner Baits -- Spinners are
a type of lure consist of a hook and a small, spoon-shaped blade
attached to a wire. The blade is designed to spin and thus attract
fish as the angler retrieves the lure through the water.
Standing Line --
refers to the line that is attached to the reel spool and runs
through the rod guides to your terminal rnd of the line.
Subspecies -- A population of a species occupying a particular geographic
area, or less commonly, a distinct habitat, capable of interbreeding
with other populations of the same species.
Spool -- The portion of the
reel that holds the line.
Stringer -- A line for keeping
fish after they have been caught.
Surfcasting -- Fishing from
the surf or near the surf using a specialty style rod that has
a substantial butt length on the rod that enables the angler to
make much more precise and longer casts.
Swimming lure -- A lure that mimics the swimming motion of large or small bait
Swivel -- A device used to attach two lines, a
line to a lure, or a device to prevent the twisting of the monofilament
Tackle -- The gear used by an angler or a commercial fisher to catch
Teasers are used to
attract fish to the boat and excite them to strike.
They work by splashing and/or flashing on the surface.
Terminal Tackle --
Refers to the tackle used at the end of the standing line. Swivel,
leader line, wire, hooks, etc.
Tail spinners -- Treble hooked
lures with attachments on the tail that spin when reeled in.
Trailer hook -- An extra hook
added to the back section of a lure used to assure more hook ups
Transducer -- The
part of the fish finder that functions like an antenna to send out
sonar signals (sound waves) and receive return echoes that are displayed
as pictures on the sonar screen. Transducers can be attached
to the transom or inside the hull of a boat, or even to a trolling
motor using a special mounting
Treble Hooks -- 3 hooks molded together in the
form of a single hook.Troll 1. Internet troll. Those who sign up to start flame wars and argue and generally are interested in stirring up crap.
2. Troll - to Motor along under electric power or slow generally between 2 and 4 knots while pulling a lure or lures sometimes using several rods or outriggers.
Trolling -- Fishing while dragging
artificial lures, live or dead baits behind a boat while in motion
to entice game fish to strike.
Trolling motor -- A small electric
fishing motor that is mounted on the bow of a boat used to travel
very slow with minimal amount of noise.
Trolling rod -- A specialty
rod used to drag small or large lures behind a boat while in motion.
Most often with all roller guides.
A current below water surface flowing seaward; the receding water below the
surface from waves breaking on a shelving beach.
The most common phenomena expressed as undertow are actually rip currents.
Upwelling -- The movement of nutrient
rich waters from the bottom of the ocean to the surface.
Wild populations -- Fish that have maintained
successful natural reproduction with little or no supplementation
All Stripers All The Time!!