Striped bass are already spawning in parts of the Chesapeake Bay. This according to my good friend John Page Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, who also added that the hickory shad have started running.
In certain areas of the northeast, the striped bass never left, finding palatable water temperatures in this non-winter.
My colleague John Page Williams, who works for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is also involved in the Maryland CCA. He turned me on to Careful Catch Maryland, which is promoting the use of catch cradles used by muskie anglers to keep big bass in the water during release.
The science behind it is that the less a fish is handled on release, and the less time it spends out of water, the more likely it is to survive.
We beelined it up to Havre De Grace, where the Susquehanna River empties into the northernmost reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. From there we drove up through Delaware and to the Jersey Shore. I had to bail after the first five days of this leg, but Tosh headed back down to Maryland to catch up with more rocks on the way down to Annapolis.
Special thanks go to many people for making this trip possible:
Another factor worth considering is the fishing pressure. If you combine the recreational striper fishery, both in Maryland and Virginia (including the winter fishery at the Bay’s mouth) and along the Atlantic coast with the commercial effort, stripers never really get a break, unlike other game species, such as waterfowl and deer. Add these factors to declining spawning stock biomass (confirmed by the federal striped bass board) and YOY data and you have reasonable concerns.