January/February 2008

Of the more than 260 fish species known to inhabit Chesapeake Bay, only 32 species are year-round residents. These fish complete all aspects of their life cycle within the Bay or the brackish portions of its tributaries. Fish diversity in Chesapeake Bay is generally lowest in mid-winter. Thus, similar to most recreational anglers, the VIMS Juvenile Fish Survey catches and processes fewer fish in January and February than during other months of the year. One of the resident species of note over the past two months has been the White Perch. Pan-sized and larger perch were noted from all three rivers sampled. In the Rappahannock River the largest fish were captured from Totuskey Creek upstream to Cat Point Creek (the upper end of the sampling area). In the York River the largest specimens were measured between Pages Rock and West Point and in the James they were localized in the deep water north of White Shoal. Summer Flounder, a seasonal visitor to the Bay, appear to have returned to the Bay although not yet in large numbers. Survey scientists have measured both adult fish and very young juveniles (< 1 inch) in recent sampling. The largest fish measured was from the James River north of the Newport News Middle Ground Light. This fish, a legal fish last year, would have fallen just shy of the legal minimum for 2008. Blue Catfish, a species introduced to Virginia waters to bolster recreational angling opportunities, are regularly seen in survey catches. The largest Blue Catfish measured over the last several months have all come from the James River in the vicinity of Hog Island.