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.
Wow, that sucks. 2.5, when the long-term average is 11.5. Admittedly, year to year variation of the YOY index is quite high, as the graph demonstrates, but the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass stocks have been in trouble for a long time, and what the fish need to succeed is several years of good reproduction. This is not that, and is in fact, quite the opposite. Any recovery of the Striped Bass is put on hold for at least another year. I guess it's a good thing, a small blessing at least for the fish, that I haven't done very much fishing this year.
The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Dawn Wells up and running.