March 2008

March marks the return of certain seasonal inhabitants to Chesapeake Bay. Among the species making their annual spring migration into the Bay are Atlantic Croaker and Summer Flounder. In early March, the VIMS Juvenile Fish Survey collected both species from the York and James rivers. In the York River, croaker up to 14 inches ranged from Pages Rock upstream to the mouth of the Poropotank River and in the James River from the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel up to Deep Water Shoal. Although Summer Flounder were present in February samples, their numbers increased in the March survey. Similar to the February survey, the largest Summer Flounder this month were caught in the James River. Most of the large fish measured were in the channel between the James River Bridge and White Shoal.

Another migratory species important to Virginia anglers is Striped Bass, and the survey crew noted several large specimens this month in the James and Rappahannock Rivers. Stripers in the 2 to 3 foot range were sampled off Mosquito Point in the Rappahannock River and near Rock Landing Shoal in the James River.

During February the York and James Rivers both produced several large Blue Catfish and have continued that trend into March. Survey scientists noted several large Blue Catfish in the lower reaches of both the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers (tributaries to the York River). These fish, while not state records, were still large (exceeding 2 ft.). Big Blue Catfish were captured in the James River from the Jamestown Ferry to the downstream end of the Rock Landing Shoal Channel. Survey scientists also measured a number of large Blue Catfish in the Rappahannock River near McKans Bay.

March sampling again recorded White Perch in the 10 to 12 inch range in fairly high numbers in the York River. These fish were captured from Capahosic upstream to West Point and in the Pamunkey River upstream as far as Lee Marsh.