Striped Bass Spawning Success Below Average in 2020

For the second year in a row, the Chesapeake Bay survey reveals poor reproduction for striped bass.

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.

Chart of Maryland young of year survey historic data

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.

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.


48 on “Striped Bass Spawning Success Below Average in 2020

  1. LOU


  2. Ron P III

    Time for OTW to get more conservation-minded. OTW should help push for a increase in the size limit next year to 32 in to save the current 27 inch fish. These fish haven’t even spawned once yet.

    1. Szymon

      I think this might hurt it more than help. By the time someone gets that 32” they’ll catch and release tons which will end up dead because many people don’t know how to release. I’d say allow ppl to keep 2x 24” a day. Those who fish to catch a dinner will be in and out of the water much quicker and not killing tons of fish in the process.

    2. Jay G

      Which state has a size limit of 27″? MA has a slot size 28″ to 34.99″

  3. Cape

    I keep saying it.! Put the Srripers in the category of sport fish and protect them up and down the East Cost. Those who appose this are morons.
    Its hard to do the right thing. This is one of them.
    They closed the haddock fishing on George’s Bank and now we have haddock back along with halibut in the gulf of Maine.
    Striped bass needs protection and sport fish will do this.

    1. Fiore Vitola

      I agree with the statement of keep the Striped Bass as sport fishing!

    2. Phil Coates

      Whose the moron? Look at the data; the recreational harvest and recreational discard mortality are many times the commercial harvest and discard mortality. Time you recreational harvest haters woke up!

      1. Cape

        OK…. I belive every thing I read. Especially scientific data. No personal agenda on those reports. I am answering sarcastically fyi

  4. Barry Sladen

    I hate to say it!!! Ban keeping all stripers for 3years
    Just catch and release!!

    1. Cape

      I can live for that. Three years maybe five years. Its like saving money to buy a car. Build your fish stock or money account.

      1. Cape

        let’s not piss off big corporate fishing fleet or small boat owner. But gill nets are a killer on by catch of mammals birds etc..

  5. Jeff

    Ya all need to join Stripers Forever, who permotes conservation and is trying to get them to be a game fish.

      1. patrick

        Make it a game fish for future generations..

  6. John Cerone

    Living on Eastern Long Island fishing the South and North Shores I have yet to see any Coast Guard or Harbor Patrol or DEC officer stop pull over any charter boat or board any party boat to check size limits and amount of stripers taken also surf fishing or Bridge Fishing I have yet to see a DEC officer or park ranger as any of the Long Island parks question any fisherman on a mount and size limits there is no policing of our Waters many commercial fisherman and foreign Fish Farms I called them all within our Twelve Mile limit raping our seas where is the policing there is none

    1. Top-Knot

      John, I fish the sounds off ct, ri and ny. the only enforcement is on the rec. fisherman /boater (me) at the ramps during peak season.
      I fished a party boat out of Niantic on 10-15 and watched men fill coolers with large keeper black sea bass to at least 3x their limits. No-one looks in your cooler and the poachers go home with their bounty.
      It was disappointing when I’ve been thanked by my grown children for teaching them to play by the rules.

  7. Buck

    Allowing commercial fishing and letting breeders be taken has to top now to save the striped. Simple solution.

      1. Cape

        wow gave me a different view.
        With catch and release. Thank you Mr. Barron!
        You touched on great point. PCB water quality.

  8. Richard Barron

    Based upon the Maryland and Chesapeak Bay studies and most recent data the numbers and size of baby stripers are again going down 35 years ago the striper limit size was 36 in one fish. Unfortunately all those 50-60 lb female breeders caught didn’t drop their eggs and fish were lost. During that time PCB contamination to all the water stripes breed in and move through was contaminated from the Carolinas to New Hampshire. New conservation measures saved the stripers from near extinction and now were back at a slot limit 28-35 one fish in Mass and along the east coast. Without question gill netting must be severely fined and punished if that law stands. Protecting the biomasses of herring,pogies,eels,mackerel,shad must go hand in hand with measures to protect striped bass. Not every fisherman wants to fly fish or catch and release legal size fish. Cleaning, coking, and eating legit catches is a big part of fishing for my kids and myself. If I can’t catch and eat what is legal I won’t fih anymore. F——k it! Circle hooks do not always work unless you are right next to the pole using bait. Protecting the breeder females or larger fish is absolutely essential or maybe additional changes allowing a larger size of fishes caught between Sept- end of season ie December is a strong motivator. At least the eggs will get dropped and hopefully fertilized. Targeting fish 28-35 inches can really create a trend which removes more males from biomasses which may be a BIG factor. I see the little hatchlings in the water starting around July up in New England so managing time of year with varying metrics may help protect the larger biomasses and allow growth sizes to increase back to 11.5 from 2.5 in. The Canal was much better this summer with less overfishing and law breaking. We have to protect these fish so our grandchildren can have a similar experience. I am 72 with 7 kids /5 grandkids and they all except 1 love fishing, catching, eating fish.We need to get in balance and harmony with nature and work for nature to be successful. Catching and releasing in my view is a PANACEA in many regards because the fish die or get tossed around like a baseball. If I gut hook a fish using circle hooks I quit and take the fish if its within an inch or so. It’s stupid to throw it in the water and keep repeating it. It’s like devaluing currency until it has very little value, Fly fishing is definitely closer to fairness for the stripers with the small hooks, lighter lines, tippets, etc. and using hooks that rust away after a few days. Targeting bigger fish comes from predicting when they will be at a certain location based upon other variables being present. I know it’s a BIG industry and sport. Any way stay safe, create distance until we all get a working vaccine, enjoy life and the gift of this BREATH. PEACE

  9. K. Schaefer

    Excerpt from the article: “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. “

    What research shows that the number of mature spawning Stripers doesn’t have a correlation with spawning success? Shouldn’t more bass = more successful spawning even when conditions aren’t ideal? Curious to see that info backed up by science. Also that statement sends an odd message to the public… basically saying we don’t need abundant breeders to sustain our population. We’re all seeing the effects of an overfished population.

  10. R.L

    It’s amazing how many experts we have on the striped bass fishery.

  11. Tim McEnany

    The limit needs to change to maybe one keeper a week. If 10 people keep one fish for 10 days that’s 100 keepers gone. No multiply that by the thousands that go fishing daily for stripers. Circle hooks work great if you are fishing with only one rod which should be a law also. If you wait too long to set the hook then it is swallowed. But to take a fish that is close to the size slot but not in it, is illegal and considered poaching. Sounds like someone is fishing with multiple rods and can’t watch them closely to help with them not swallowing. Try using lures instead of live bait. Make it a challenge or else your grandkids may never get to catch fish.
    Also need to get Massachusetts in line and not grant them extended fishing months. If I was a hunter and didn’t get a deer,they don’t give me an extra month to keep hunting.
    Follow a commercial boat sometime when they are bringing their nets in and watch how many dead fish are thrown back in. Thousands.

  12. John Horvath

    Look at the years from 1971 to 1988, the striper spawn was very low the whole time, that is why we went to a moratorium. Since 1989 we have had a much higher spawn when you average out the years. I am tired of the gloom and doom people. I believe the population is fine, fishing has been crazy good this year. The weather was unusually cold for last spring and is what caused the low spawn. People need to chill a bit and let the biologists do their job!

  13. D.Mayer

    For quite some time now it has been illegal to sell Striped Bass in New Jersey. This action has helped but all the state’s need to adopt this from North Carolina to Maine.
    Policing at the docks will be relatively easy.

    1. Roger Ruff

      Yes,almost slipped me .How are the Stripers doing in the Hudson River ? I know it’s a big spawning ground

    2. Top-Knot

      No data here except that the fishing has been very slow the past couple of years in the upper river. We blame the Mario bridge construction down river for impact. ps they slaughtered hundreds of sturgeon along the way too.
      The herring have been here steady but the stripers, not so much. I’ve been at it for 20+ yrs. and know the 25 steps that have to go right before the fork ever goes to your mouth.

    1. Cape

      It’s called typos errors. Auto spell is annoying.
      Hard to type on cell phone for big guys/gals.
      This isn’t an Collage English class forum. Lol

    2. Cape

      No R.I…….
      We are fed up with miss managing our Strped Bass and other fish that we love.
      Politics always get in the way and of course money.
      These ideas are from people who fish and see what’s going on. And the guys/gala that say I catch 40 pounders every day have a big head! Baggers who think there the gods gift of fishing.
      I don’t have all the answers but I use my common sense and speak out and question what is going on and being open minded not just my fish that I love but on everything else. Read Mr. Richard Barron idea and how he feels and about others to. This is why OTW have this great forum to bond with each other who have same common goal to fish and live life to the fullest nd maybe infulance some personal who has weight that can help us protect our natural resources . I know a little clueshea nerdy.

  14. Allyn Krauth

    I don’t have a great deal of answers, but I know you guys flunked spelling in school! I pray a solution is found to keep the Striped Bass plentiful along the eastern seaboard, so someday my son can walk in the footsteps of the great anglers that darkened the doorways of Montauk and Cape Cod aka “the ditch” Butch

  15. Joel

    I love to catch cows too. Happy to release them. If we as fisherpeople keep fighting to kill these poor fish we will have no more. Id rather release all my stripers if it means i can continue to catch them with passion the rest of my life. GAME FISH BABY!!! been sayin it for years. Might even cull out the assholes who think they are fishermen.

  16. Cape

    They Patrol on Cape Cod Canal in Massachusetts. Doing the best they can. They get the poachers. But the fines are a joke. No deterants.

  17. Woodsman

    Of course this report will be used by our overlords to make everyone feel even more guilty for fishing and hunting and living close to God’s creation , and being a little self-reliant.. and eventually justify confining us to pods in the city being fed what they say we should eat ( Oh ! ..the UN is already saying that.). Wake up folks ! We are long past the days of Leopold and Smoot . Those true conservationists’ words were cleverly used against us by those who hate us and our lifestyle and freedom.

    1. Jim Donohue

      I’ll respectfully disagree. The Striped Bass was saved by “the overlords” who stopped the west side highway rebuild during the Reagan administration, and by the clean waters act, and by the moratorium placed on keeping stripers. Being absolutely cynical about everything people in government do is tempting but there are agencies who are staffed by good people trying to protect natural resources. The fact that these agencies are brutally underfunded by administrations that believe that science is fake news is a problem. The fact that the head of the EPA is a coal executive is a problem. The fact that fishermen and hunters have been convinced that any regulation is somehow an attack on their way of life is a problem.

  18. canal fishing addict

    I agree that the fines do nothing to stop the poachers. Start by confiscating gear and it will go a long way. On one hand i would love to see them ruled a game fish, on the other hand i fish with many people that absolutely love to catch a LEAGLE fish in the morning and have it for dinner that evening . E P O officers are soooooo under staffed around the southeastern Mass.

  19. Roger Ruff

    We need to protect the Stripers better ! Stop gill nets,stop poaching, etc. What ever happened to the 3mile limit? I remember writing Congress in favor of it when. I was in grade school !

  20. P B

    Everyone has a camera on their phone. Someone should set up a website where we can post photos/videos of anyone violating the rules. Anyone being –
    Charter Boats
    Commercial Boats
    Individual Anglers
    Look at it as a wall of shame. If its a blatant violation and you can get a photo of the boat name let the DEC follow up. If there is not enough official enforcement on the water we as fisherman should fill in the gap by reporting and posting photos/videos of violators.

  21. Joe

    A lot of wisdom on here by men who fish and know.
    Stop the netting, stop the foreign fishing boats, keep the slot and limit to one. I personally know guys who used to net in The Sound and catch a 1000 lbs/day. Stories of guys commercially jigging and catching the same. THAT’S INSANE. We need hardcore enforcement. I agree with the gentleman who said confiscate equipment on the spot. I would put a moratorium on the sale of striped bass. Don’t discount the overfishing of their food supply. I see party boats with hundreds of porgies taken daily through the summer. Same w Fluke. The supply of fish is not endless.

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