June/July 2007

During early summer, the VIMS Juvenile Fish Survey observed large Atlantic Croaker throughout the James, York, and Rappahannock rivers as well as in the main stem of the Bay. Survey personnel noted the largest fish (approx. 16 in.) in the York River between Skimino Creek and Croaker Landing, in the Rappahannock River (approx. 15 in.) off Rogue Point, and in Chesapeake Bay (approx. 16 in.) from the deep water west of Cherrystone Inlet. The survey again recorded Summer Flounder from keeper size up to 24 inches throughout the sample areas. The two largest fish (both 24 in.) came from Hampton Bar and the deep water to the southwest of Newport News Shipyard. In the York River the highest numbers of large Summer Flounder came from the Coleman Bridge upstream as far as Claybank. The area to the east of La Grange Creek produced the largest flounder (approx 22 in.) in the Rappahannock River. In the Bay the survey reported the largest flounder from well to the east of Drum Island Flats and the area to the southwest of Old Plantation Light. Additionally, survey personnel encountered a 49 in. (60 pound) Black Drum on Poquoson Flats. Aging of similar sized Black Drum suggests this fish was between 35 and 45 years old.
The Juvenile Fish Survey crew reported high densities of skates and rays throughout lower Chesapeake Bay. Clearnose Skates, Cownose Rays, Bluntnose Stingrays, Smooth Butterfly Rays and Spiny Butterfly Rays accounted for the bulk of these reports. The scientists aboard the vessel did observe a single Bullnose Ray, which is the only eagle ray species known to regularly frequent the Bay. Survey scientists reported the ingress of the Bay’s typical warm water visitors; including Harvestfish, Inshore Lizardfish, Atlantic Spadefish and Banded Drum.