The striper is one of a few species on this list that qualifies as an all-American game fish. It’s enormously important along the coast and in estuaries from Maine through the mid-Atlantic states, locally important south into northern Florida; it’s sometimes taken even in northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries. Stripers also thrive in San Francisco Bay and San Joaquin Delta waters, where they were introduced, and a few still hang on in southern Oregon rivers. They’re naturally anadromous but can also thrive landlocked in fresh water. A widely imposed moratorium on any retention in the 1980s helped populations come roaring back after heavy overfishing. A classic game fish that looks, eats and fights great — what’s not to love? The all-tackle world record was recently broken with an 81-pound, 14-ounce brute taken off Long Island Sound in 2011.
Favorite of:David Hadden (especially “when a thousand hungry bass explode into a surface blitz... It’s a species that can go airborne better than any tarpon and rip into the backing with any fish on the flats.”)
Greatest attribute: As a sight-casting target (9.6 out of 15)