Huge numbers of young-of-the-year striped bass were recorded during Maryland’s annual survey in the Chesapeake, where the majority of East Coast stripers are spawned. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that the 2011 Young of the Year (YOY) Striped Bass Survey is 34.6, well above the long-term average of 11.9, and exceedingly higher than 2010’s results of 5.9. It is, in fact, the 4th highest measure of striped bass spawning success in the Chesapeake Bay in the survey’s 58-year history.
“This reinforces our understanding that when conditions are right, the striped bass population is capable of producing robust year classes of young rockfish (striped bass),” said DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O’Connell.
The survey also documented an increase in the abundance of juvenile blueback herring—a population that had previously decreased dramatically in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast. White perch, another important food and sportfish species, saw near-record reproduction.
During this year’s survey, DNR biologists counted more than 59,000 fish of 47 different species while collecting 4,565 YOY striped bass. Variation in annual spawning success is normal because striped bass reproduction is influenced by many factors, including water temperature, winter snowfall, spring flow rates, and prevailing weather conditions. Typically, several years of average reproduction are intermixed with the occasional large and small year-classes. The strong 2011 year-class shows that the spawning stock is capable of producing a large year-class when conditions are favorable, says MD DNR.
“We are extremely pleased to see this year’s results,” said DNR Biologist Eric Durell. “It is interesting to note that the 4 largest year classes on record have occurred since the moratorium was lifted in 1990.”
DNR biologists have monitored the reproductive success of striped bass and other species in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay annually since 1954. Twenty-two survey sites are located in the 4 major spawning systems: Choptank, Potomac, and Nanticoke rivers, and the Upper Bay. Biologists visit each site monthly from July through September, collecting fish samples with 2 sweeps of a 100’ beach seine.
Juvenile indices are calculated as the average catch of YOY fish per sample.
For more information about the YOY striped bass survey go to:
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Video: Juvenile Striped Bass Survey