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.
The Weather Channel reported 1,500 record highs across the country last week.
I am wearing shorts.
Will this be the new normal?
Maybe my late April trip to the Susquehanna will not be my first dance with striped fish this year after all.
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.
Check out this scientific paper on catch and release mortality, and how your gear and handling affect a fish’s recovery.
The first striped bass release of the year.
Tosh Brown flew in to Baltimore and I was an hour late picking him up, violating one of my guiding life principles: Never piss off a Texan. But the book project rolls on.
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:
Capt. Tom Hughes
Capt. Sean Crawford
Bob Popovics and his entire crew. (And for that awesome dinner at your restaurant, Shady Rest.)
Capt. Shawn Kimbro
And last but not least the tireless John Page Williams of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
More details to come, and just in case it’s not patently obvious, the above photo is mine not Tosh’s and will not be found in anything remotely resembling a fly fishing photography book.
An article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about the debate between anglers and scientists who have seen a decline in the atlantic menhaden population and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Omega Protein Corporation, who say the baitfish population is just fine.
From the vantage point of my home waters on the Western Sound, I’m going with the scientists and anglers.
An article on striper numbers from Annapolis.
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.
John Page Williams is a colleague, a fine angler, and, with his work for CBF, one of the most upstanding citizens in conservation. Stop shooting up his buoys.
What happens when the people in charge of upholding an environmental law work to circumvent it. For those not familiar, the Chesapeake Bay watershed is only the largest in the United States, as well as the most important estuary on the Eastern seaboard. It’s also the world’s largest striped bass nursery.