Chesapeake Bay Young-of-Year Survey Results Released

October 13, 2020

Striped Bass Among Species Below Average, Others FlourishPhoto of juvenile striped bass in a survey net

Maryland DNR scientists examine juvenile striped bass for the annual index, before carefully releasing them back to the water.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced results of the most recent juvenile striped bass survey, which tracks the reproductive success of the state fish in Chesapeake Bay. The 2020 young-of-year striped bass index is 2.5, below the long-term average of 11.5.

Although the size of the striped bass population has decreased recently, the number of mature fish is not believed to be a limiting factor in reproduction. Striped bass are known for highly variable annual reproduction that is often influenced by environmental factors. Other species with spawning strategies similar to striped bass such as white perch, yellow perch, and river herring also experienced lower reproductive success. 

“We have implemented sound conservation measures to enhance the striped bass population in recent years and will continue to monitor and protect this important and iconic resource,” said Bill Anderson, Department of Natural Resources assistant secretary for Aquatic Resources.

The mild winter appears to have favored species that spawn in the fall off the coast, such as Atlantic croaker and spot. The survey documented a resurgence in abundance of these sought-after species. Spot abundance was the highest since 2010 and Atlantic croaker abundance was the highest since 1998.

Chart of Maryland young of year survey historic data

The Department of Natural Resources has monitored the annual reproductive success of striped bass in Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay since 1954. During the survey, biologists collected more than 36,000 fish of 59 different species, including 327 young-of-year striped bass.  

Twenty-two survey sites are located in four major spawning areas: the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Potomac rivers and the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Biologists visit each site three times per summer, collecting fish with two sweeps of a 100-foot beach seine net. The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass, commonly called rockfish, captured in each sample.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducts a similar survey in the southern portion of Chesapeake Bay

Though the above press release paints a poor picture of migratory striped bass prospects for the future, it must be understood that annual results often vary wildly — and only results over a period of time are meaningful except for the rare super year which can fuel the coastal fishery for decades. It should also be noted that our Hudson River stock has been in good shape and carries the NY/NJ Bight fishery.

Miss Belmar Princess had the striper catch of the day, but it hit while they were bluefishing to the east where they were jigging fussy blues. The 46-incher was probably in federal waters and too big to keep in any case. They had to work hard for every blue ranging from 3 to 12 pounds.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good early shot at mostly gaffer blues, and another around noon. They also jigged some bonito, sea bass and even blackfish.

The Queen Mary from Pont Pleasant had poor bluefishing Wednesday but many sea bass limits. They won’t sail tomorrow.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands is canceling for Friday. It was nasty today, and the bottom is still disturbed from the storm with few fish being caught.

Though small craft warnings are up this evening for south gusts to 30 knots, the marine forecast for Friday is northwest at 10-15 knots with showers.

Striped Bass Among Species Below Average, Others FlourishPhoto of juvenile striped bass in a survey net

Maryland DNR scientists examine juvenile striped bass for the annual index, before carefully releasing them back to the water.

Chart of Maryland young of year survey historic data

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s