Maryland's juvenile striped bass index this year was 8.0, slightly below the long-term average of 10.7, but far higher than the low indexes of the 1980s that caused a closure of striped bash fishing in the Bay.

Fluctuations in the index are typical, in large part because weather plays an important role in setting up spawning conditions. Officials said the cold and dry spring was probably responsible for decreased spawning. But overall, they say the population is in good shape, with record spawns being reported in two of the past five years.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists have annually surveyed striped bass reproductive success in Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake and its tributaries since 1954.

Monitoring takes place at 22 stations located in four major spawning systems: the Head of the Bay, and the Choptank, Nanticoke and Potomac rivers. Monthly sample rounds are performed July through September, with two hauls taken at each site with a 100-by-4 foot seine net. The index is the average number of juvenile fish per seine haul. This year, the head of Bay and Potomac River had the best indices, with 8.3 and 10.6 respectively. The Choptank followed with 7.3 and the Nanticoke at 3.5.

About 90 percent of the Atlantic Coast striped bass population is spawned in the Chesapeake Bay. Historically, the index has been watched as an important indicator of the rockfish population's status.