Friday, March 11, 2011

Young of Year Index Explains Striper Situation

The Chesapeake Bay spawns 75 % of the Atlantic coast stripers. What happens there has a big impact on our fishing. Every year a netting survey is done in this area to determine the spawning rate, called the young of the year index. An index of about 12 or more is considered average. Last year the index was roughly half of what is normal. In the last 5 years there has been only one average year and that was in 2007. All the other years have been considerably BELOW average. This really explains our lack of schoolies in recent years. Poor spawning in the Chesapeake has translated into poor numbers of schoolies for us. And, don't expect things to get any better this year.
However, if you look back at the index numbers from 10-12 years ago when the striped bass recovery was in full swing, you will see some outstanding spawning years. Those fish are now the keepers we are seeing around here. That explains why there are good numbers of keepers around. It is unfortunate that those are the fish that are being heavily targeted by recreational fishermen, tournament hunters, charter boats, and commercial fishermen. Those fish that are being removed in huge numbers are the spawners that will make or break the fishery in the next five years.
Not a rosy future.
For information about the Chesapeake Bay Young of the Year Index go to :