The results of Maryland’s most recent rockfish spawning survey are in, and they aren’t good. Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the 2020 juvenile striped bass index is 2.5, well below the average of 11.5, and even worse than last year’s 3.4.
The “young-of-year” survey tracks the reproductive success of rockfish in a given year. These juvenile fish are an important indicator because they are the fish that will grow to fishable sizes in three to four years. The surveys provide a glimpse of long-term trends in the striped bass population.
DNR, who has been collecting young of year data since 1954, collect fish with 100-foot beach seine net in 22 sites along major spawning areas in the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Potomac rivers and the Upper Chesapeake Bay.
In light of the lowest numbers since 2016, DNR is quick to point out that striped bass “are known for highly variable annual reproduction that is often influenced by environmental factors.” Other species with similar spawning habits saw the same drop in reproduction, DNR notes, like white perch, yellow perch, and river herring.