Editor's Note: Considering the current striper situation, we're making an exception to our usual publishing practices. We usually don't republish news articles from the print version of FishTalk here on the website, simply because news is dated by the time a published articles goes online. In this case, however, we want to make sure everyone's heard about this particular matter - it's too important to risk word not getting out.
We hate sounding pessimistic, folks, but there’s just no way to put a positive spin on this one. The young-of-year surveys are in and the results are not good for striped bass. The Maryland DNR announced that in the state’s waters the striped bass index for 2019 is 3.4. That’s a far cry from the average of 11.6. Virginia waters seem to have fared a bit better, with their index hitting 9.54, which is slightly above the historic VA average of 7.77. These surveys are performed with 132 samples taken via 100-foot sein nets at 22 stations in Maryland, and approximately 110 samples in Virginia from 18 index stations and 22 auxiliary sites.
If there’s any good news in here beyond the Virginia striper spawn at least holding the line, it’s that these indexes can fluctuate wildly from year to year. The 2018 Maryland index, for example, was 14.8, yet in 2016 it was a mere 2.2 and in 2015 it was 24.2. Weather and riverine waterflows play a huge role in any give year’s success or lack thereof, and while scientists haven’t yet announced a determination as to why this years’ spawning success was so lackluster, considering the monsoons of last winter and early spring an off-year doesn’t seem too terrifically surprising. Also down from last year were yellow perch, white perch, and herring, while menhaden were up slightly.
We're all quite familiar with the current stock assessments for striper populations, and we know darn well that tightened regulations are coming. The spawn of 2019 can't possibly help, in either regard.