Striped bass reproduction in Maryland this year was twice the long-term average and the highest since 2011, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
In Virginia, preliminary results from surveys by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found reproduction was slightly higher than average.
Striped bass reproduction varies greatly from year to year, but the overall population is greatly influenced by years with high reproduction, so this year’s Maryland index — which historically is closely related to future overall East Coast abundance — could be good new for anglers when they reach fishable size in three to four years.
Prior to this year, striped bass reproduction in Maryland had been at or below average for most of the last decade, leading to an overall population decline that resulted in new coastwide harvest restrictions imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which sets catch limits.
“This year’s survey demonstrates that striped bass are a very resilient species when given favorable environmental conditions for reproduction and survival,” said DNR Secretary Mark Belton. “This robust reproduction should give Maryland anglers hope for a successful striped bass season in a few years time.”
The DNR reported that its juvenile index was 24.2, double the long-term average of 11.9. It was the eighth best index in the juvenile survey’s 62-year history.
The VIMS preliminary juvenile survey results shows an average of about 11 fish per net, slightly higher than the survey’s long-term average of 9. It was the third year in a row the Virginia index was near average.
Both indices represent the average number of juvenile, or young-of-year, striped bass caught in each 100-foot seine net during surveys conducted in the summer and early fall fall.
In the Maryland young-of year survey, DNR biologists survey 22 sites in the four major spawning systems ─ the Choptank, Nanticoke and Potomac rivers, and the Upper Bay. The crews visit each survey site three times during the summer.
The VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey samples 18 stations in the Rappahannock, York and James river watersheds. Biologists sample each site five times from early July through mid-September of each year.