YOY sur­vey re­sults re­vealed

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

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.

Owl Prowl

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.

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