YOY survey results revealed
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced the results of the 2017 young-of-year striped bass survey recently.
This survey is one of the oldest of its kind, taken annually since 1954.
While the DNR press release characterizes the uptick in the annual survey’s index number as showing “the fish is reproducing in strong numbers,” I’m a little hesitant to call a 13.2 a vast improvement over the 64-year average of 11.7.
To put the actual number, called the arithmetic mean catch per haul, in perspective, last year’s YOY index was a depressing 2.2.
The largest index, measuring nearly 60 fish, was surveyed in 1996. It could be worse. 2012 didn’t even rate a 1 (it was .89, but if you want to round up I guess that’s about 1). When looking at the number from last year compared to this year, yes, it was a marked change for the better. But comparing 13.2 to the average index over
time, there’s still room for growth.
This survey is conducted by DNR biologists who sample 22 fixed locations in July, August and September, and tally the number of fish they catch in a 100-foot long seine net.
They run this net through the water at two separate intervals for a total of 132 samples. The samples are divided into five major areas: the Patuxent River, the Potomac River, Head of Bay areas, the Nanticoke River and the Choptank River. The index is the average number of YOY rockfish caught in each haul of the seine net.
YOY are defined as fish less than 1 year old, and the index number is just one of the tools managers use to predict the fu- ture of the fishery. It’s a good indicator of the reproductive success of the Atlantic stock of rockfish, since the majority of those fish spawn in the Chesapeake Bay. This year’s survey revealed the greatest abundance was in the upper region of the bay.
Rockfish aren’t the only species biologists keep track of with this survey. Over 100 different kinds of fish have been counted since the survey’s inception. The public can view the 15 most requested species on DNR’s website at http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/striped-bass/juvenile-index.aspx.
Of particular interest this year is high white perch reproduction in the upper bay and Nanticoke River and an above average American shad index. There’s been a moratorium on American shad in place since 1980.
I haven’t seen any mention of Atlantic menhaden’s numbers in any press releases so far. I have a sneaking suspicion that’s because the hard facts don’t look so good this year.
This year’s YOY index is the lowest measured since 2004, just .39 fish (a slightly different assessment, this time called the bay-wide geometric catch per haul). And looking at three of the last four years, the index is moving in a downward trend.
In less than two weeks, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is having their
two-day Atlantic Menhaden Management Board Meeting in Linthicum.
They will be voting on whether to adopt a management system that leaves a higher number of menhaden in the food
chain, since menhaden are an important forage food for the bigger gamefish that eat them, species like our beloved Maryland state fish.
These folks at the ASMFC will also be setting the 2018 catch limit at this meeting, too. Good fishing Even though the Reel Report is finished for 2017, there’s been some unusually good fishing for this time of year in the mouth of the Patuxent and in Cedar Point Hollow that has to be shared today.
Capt. Bernie Shea on the “Shea-D-Lady” (301-672-3282) reports speckled trout, black sea bass, bluefish, spot and perch are still biting on bloodworms and cut bait.
Ken Lamb of the Tackle Box in Lexington Park (301-863-8151) said everyone has been so
busy catching rockfish in the shallows and the bay that this great avenue of bottom fishing has been quietly rolling along under the radar.
Normally these fish flee to warmer waters by late September, but they’re still here the first week of November and it seems as if they may stay put for a little while longer.
The first ocean-run of stripers on the fall migration haven’t made it to our local waters area yet. Any day now a 40-inch fish with sea lice that indicates recent time in the Atlantic Ocean will be showing up.
The Southern Maryland Audubon Society is having their annual winter Owl Prowl at Myrtle Point Park in St. Mary’s County on Dec. 1.
The leader, Bob Boxwell, will attempt to attract owls by having them respond to recorded owl calls.
The event, co-sponsored by the Friend of Myrtle Point Park, will take place from 8 to 9 p.m. that night. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be cold out, so dress warmly, but participants are reminded to dress quietly so the owls don’t get spooked.
Meet at the front of the park gates. To RSVP or get more information, call 410-610-5124 or email to Bboxwell@hotmail. com. Statewide pass offer If you’re a frequent visitor to Maryland’s state parks, you’ll want to pay attention to this offer from DNR.
The Maryland State Park and Trail Passport is a pass that offers access to Maryland’s 72 state parks including more than 900 miles of trails for biking, birdwatching, hiking and relaxing outdoors.
DNR is offering a good deal on this special statewide pass. From now until the end of 2017, state parks will start honoring the 2018 pass early. Of course they will honor them next year too, but if you buy one now, you’ll get a couple extra weeks for free.
The pass costs $75 for residents and $100 for non-residents. Now it’s important to note that this pass is nonreplaceable if you lose it or it’s stolen. So if you buy one, put it in a safe place in your car.
I’d recommend shutting it in the glove box when it’s not in use. Let’s just say with four kids getting in and out of the car, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.