Striped Bass: 2019 Spawn Below Average

Marlyand index suggests below-average spawn in Chesapeake Bay.

Below-Average Striper Spawn in Chesapeake Bay

Some not-so-great news for striped bass, which were declared overfished this year. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the results of the young-of-year striped bass survey, which tracks reproduction of the species in Chesapeake Bay. The 2019 juvenile striped bass index is 3.4, below the 66-year average of 11.6.

The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass captured in samples taken during the survey.

Weather, river flows, and availability of food for newly hatched fish are all important factors in the spawning success of fish such as striped bass. Although the specific cause of this year’s poor spawning has not yet been determined, large variations in annual reproductive success are normal for the Bay’s striped bass population. Typically, several years of average reproduction are interspersed with high and low years. While three of the past five years have produced strong numbers of young-of-year striped bass, the department is recommending continued monitoring and conservation measures.

“The Chesapeake Bay spawning stock is still capable of high reproductive success under the right conditions,” Assistant Secretary for Aquatic Resources Bill Anderson said. “We will continue to work with our partners along the Atlantic coast and implement measures to responsibly manage the Chesapeake Bay striped bass population.”

Better News from Virginia Tributaries

A separate ongoing long-term survey conducted by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science suggest an average year class of young-of-year striped bass was produced in Virginia tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in 2019.  The program, formally known as the Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey, recorded a mean value of 9.54 fish per seine haul in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay, which is similar to the historic average of 7.77 fish per seine haul. The 2019 value—which scientists call a recruitment index—was also similar to indices observed in the past six years.

14 on “Striped Bass: 2019 Spawn Below Average

  1. Michael Deckard

    With the continued targeting of the severely depleted breeding females by charter captains and trollers and the striped bass stock the lowest since 1992 during the moratorium as well as states like New Jersey having
    “TROPHY TAGS” to kill an additional breeder there will be no striped bass fishery 5 years from now if we are lucky. Talk to anyone in North Carolina or Virginia or Maryland they have no striped bass in the ocean at all! It is a finite resource and has been destroyed by greed and ignorance!

  2. Paul cuzzupe

    The Massachusetts commercialization quota was never doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that killing all the females is going to lead to less spawning fish.The fishery is crashing,commercial fishing for stripers needs to be stopped, at least until they rebound.Slot limits for recreational fishing needs to target Male fish.Remember the 70’S people…no fish anywhere.

  3. APEX

    I agree with the two comments above. I am putting on flame retardant clothes before continuing.

    We all know that the canal is a funnel that most of the migratory bass pass through. Regular readers of On the Water have seen that many violations like taking undersize bass, exceeding the fish limit, and high grading the take by discarding smaller fish for bigger ones seem to be concentrated in the canal. It is clear that enforcement agencies do not have the money or manpower to stop this and probably never will.

    While legal, fishing pressure in the canal is higher than just about any other place in a migratory stiper’s territory. A big exception is Chesapeake Bay where breeders are taken or at least highly stressed by “special regulations”. “Shooting fish in a barrel” should be addressed by reducing or eliminating striper fishing in these critical migration choke points.

    There are many other reforms that would help but ambushing breeders and migratory fish at critical times and places is a practice that is just about as sporting as using a Dupont spinner.

    1. David Price

      It’s not just the canal unfortunately. I saw dead very undersized bass that were filleted on montauk beaches along with the heads of some very large bass…

  4. Roy

    Apex, I couldn’t agree more. Choke points like the canal should be banned for several years. I have seen floaters that we’re commercial grade 34 inches plus thrown away because they were catching much much larger fish . The canal has become a bad place with lots of criminal activity from stealing your fish and equipment to fights closing bell rd. No longer a place to bring your kids during fishing season

  5. Rocco DeTeso

    I have fished for Striped bass since the Mid 1960’s….and caught my first one up in the Point of Pines River. Since learning about the plight of the Striped Bass Species from folks like Bob Pond, Ed Nowak and others with similar experience I took up learning as much as I could about the problems effecting striped bass numbers. As a past president, board member and general member of the Plum Island Surfcasters, I took part in various efforts to help preserve the species such as the Sea Party Coalition, New Hampshire Coastal Conservation Association and Stripers Forever. I have also seen the state of Massachusetts open up commercial fishing for striped Bass under a set of nebulous rules and regulations which allow unscrupulous commercial fishermen to exceed their take of Striped Bass time and time again. This I have heard with my own ears in conversations with particular folks with commercial Striped Bass permits. Also let us not forget to mention the thousands of Stripers killed as By-Catch which does not even get counted on the commercial Striped Bass Tally. I have also witnessed, on numerous occasions, the absolute Blood bath and slaughter of Striped Bass along the Cape Cod Canal by “wreck-reational” or purported sport fishermen. Large Bass are taken, spirited away then two more large Stripers are taken by the same person. Poachers and unethical sport fishermen use these occasions to take many more striped bass than allowed. I realize enforcement of the limits is a tough job and enforcement officers cannot be everywhere. However, I believe at certain times and occasions the striped bass fishery should be closed for selected days during times when they are schooled up and feeding heavily in easily accessible areas. Contests for the biggest dead fish (striped Bass) turned in for a prize or money should be curtailed during times when it is proven that the species is in trouble. These days it would appear efforts to help propagate the species are proving to be futile and it is difficult to effect changes in the rules and regulations. So at this point I would say why not totally wipe out the species and give a million dollar prize to the dude who catches the last living striped bass in the ocean. That way we all can just relax and not worry about the Striped Bass populations nor waste our time and money trying to catch a few. So lets take our recreational funds and buy a new set of Golf Clubs and all we would have to worry about is killing a few worms. Don’t you agree….???

    1. mike T

      I too like Rocco fish P.I. thru out the spring, summer & falls seasons. Each year I have been seeing less and less striper activity. I see many people take undersized fish. I always catch and release. There definitely needs to be stricter enforcement and larger task force to spearhead this. I rarely see MEP patrol this area.

  6. Denboo

    Make them a game fish join strippers forever,no commercial fishing for bass means no market to sell fish anywhere!!

  7. Morone Sax

    Would like to see a slot limit of say 20-28” or one fish 40” or over to protect the breeding stock while allowing a sportsman to take home a fish for dinner. ME had a 20-26 “ slot or 1 fish over 40” for years and it seemed to work pretty good. I’m all for one or two fish to take home as I hate throwing back a fish that is dead or dying, goes against the sportsman ‘s ethics I had drilled into me. If you are going to kill it or it will die take it home and eat it.

  8. APEX

    The point is to stop killing those 40″+ fish. They are the future. If you are fighting your fish nearly to death and have deeply hooked them or used treble hooks, you should be looking at evidence based methods of catch and release that greatly reduce post catch mortality.

    Which sounds better to you? Catch a dozen fish a day or only catch one once or twice a year so you can take it home to eat? You don’t have to keep a 40″ fish to have that thrill or brag about it. If you catch one, you know you did it and if your friends don’t believe you screw em.

    Besides, a striper that big is loaded with mercury and dioxins (thank you General Electric), not exactly the thing you should feed to friends and family. I wouldn’t feed a striper that big to my cat.

  9. beeps

    close it 2 years never open commercial again after 2 years 1 fish at 30 inch that will help stop poaching maybe the future will have some bass to fish for

  10. Ron jawin

    Common sense would dictate that the low numbers of bass would dictate a halt to harvest. Does ANYONE remember the “walk on em” numbers we had only a few years ago not to mention the sizes that were so abundant? On Long Island there is still haul seining with gills nets which seems incredible. I counted 36 nets last year in a 15 mile strech between shore and boat nets. The new phrase i use for netters destroying the stock is parasites. Please prove me wrong-thats a dare. Show me how we are not killing off the future of the bass stock.

  11. Phil Sheffield

    The writing has been on the walls for over a decade and yet we humans keep resorting to useless guessing. There is a no brainer answer that involves patience. Let mother nature tend to this. She has a far better track record than the ASMFC which up to this point in time waited far too long to take charge of this decline. Overfishing is occurring. Why? Shut it down! End the poaching. Fire the ASMFC!

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