Maryland DNR Striped Bass Survey Shows Healthy Population Growth

Annual Young-of-Year Survey Tracks Spawning of State Fish

Results of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2017 young-of-year striped bass survey in the Chesapeake Bay shows the fish is reproducing in strong numbers. The annual survey’s index is 13.2, above the 64-year average of 11.7.

Striped bass, popularly known as rockfish, is Maryland’s state fish. The fish spawns in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries each spring. The survey is conducted annually to track the reproductive success of this important species and help predict future abundance. The index represents the average number of young-of-year striped bass – those less than 1 year old – captured in 132 samples. 

“Strong reproduction in three of the past seven years is an encouraging sign for the coastal population and future fishing opportunities,” Fishing and Boating Services Director Dave Blazer said.

During this year’s survey, department biologists collected more than 33,000 fish of 62 species, including 1,741 young-of-year striped bass. The most productive area surveyed for rockfish was the upper Chesapeake Bay, their largest spawning area.

Maryland juvenile striped bass index

Results of this year’s survey also showed high white perch reproduction in the upper bay and Nanticoke River. Additionally, the survey found American shad reproduction was above average, primarily due to its success in the Potomac River.

The department has monitored the reproductive success of striped bass and other species in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay annually since 1954, making it one of the oldest biological surveys. Twenty-two survey sites are located in the four major spawning systems: Choptank, Potomac and Nanticoke rivers and the upper bay. Biologists visit each site three times during the summer, collecting fish with two sweeps of a 100-foot beach seine.

More information on the juvenile striped bass program is available online.

  1. Capt James Goodhart

    It’s nice to see an above average recruitment year, but it still doesn’t appear to be a break out from the 20 year downtrend.

  2. Bill

    Another decade of better than average spawning results and it might be worthwhile to target striped bass again.

  3. Matthew Henry

    Hopefully they’ll find their way And stay awhile off of Nj this year. It just hasn’t been the same since Sandy destroyed the Nj Coastline as far as grasses and channels for the bait fish to hide. Without bait to chase they just aren’t going to stay around here for long.

  4. TFR

    I think this headline is very misleading. As pointed out by Capt. Goodhart above, being just slightly above the average is positive but nothing to get excited about.
    An even more simple observation is there are way to many peaks and valleys in the bar chart.
    Those of us who have chased striped bass for decades know that today’s fishery is still a fraction of what it once was. The worst thing we can do is accept the condition of today’s fishery as ‘normal’.

  5. Joe GaNun

    TFR pretty much nails it. We need a series of exceptional years to bring the fishery back, both recreational and commercial. We probably need a moratorium of 5 years in the meantime but that’s another topic altogether.

  6. Thomas

    With the Hudson River slot limit in place for the spring run we (2) have not harvested a spring stripper in the past two years. We release twenty or thirty beautiful cows each spring. I’m a master at revival and live release. As we continue to do our part…. everyone else please do yours. No more floating shorts in the wash at the launch with the loins removed please. We have been through this before and we will get through it again if everyone plays by the rules.

  7. ALC

    The title is misleading for sure. Let’s be honest, if the average spawn is poor, then a slightly above average isn’t really going to do much. It’s a positive sign but let’s stay realistic. The fishery as a whole is on the decline and is headed towards rock bottom….again…

  8. Lee S

    Nice to hear a bit of good news. Moratorium is the only way out of this dismal state of the fishery. I would love to see the the glory days return for my children and grandchildren.

  9. Pg

    I wasn’t around in the 50s or 60s, but I’ve been fishing since the mid 80s. In the years I’ve been fishing I think the people who set the regulations have done a great job of managing the species. I don’t always like what they’re doing but I can’t argue with results. I’ve caught more fish in recent years in more places compared to when I started fishing 30 years ago


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