VA waters produce average crop of young striped bass in 2009

  • Striped Bass Index
    Striped Bass Index   Scaled geometric mean of young-of-the-year striped bass per seine haul in the primary nursery area (index stations) by year. Vertical bars are 95% confidence intervals as estimated by + 2 standard errors of the mean. Horizontal lines indicate historical geometric mean (solid) and confidence intervals (dotted) for 1967-2009.   Graph courtesy of Leonard Machut.
  • Juvenile Striped Bass
    Juvenile Striped Bass   Examples of young striped bass collected by the Virginia seine survey. In 2010, survey scientists collected a total of 1,718 juvenile striped bass generally measuring between 40 and 100 mm (1.5-4 inches) in length.  
  • Seine Net
    Seine Net   Patrick Link (L) and Leonard Machut (R) begin to deploy a seine net on the James River as part of VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey.  
  • Retrieving Seine Net
    Retrieving Seine Net   Nick Erdle (backround) and Leonard Machut (foreground) retrieve a seine net at a site on the James River as part of the VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey.  
  • Processing Samples
    Processing Samples   Members of VIMS' Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey count and measure young-of-the-year fish following a net haul on the Rappahannock River in 2008. From L to R: Brittney O'Connell, Nick Erdle, and Zenia Sherman.  
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Preliminary results from an annual survey of juvenile striped bass by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science suggest that an average number of young-of-the-year stripers—fish born this year—will enter the adult population in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay.

The results are good news for the recreational and commercial anglers who pursue this popular game fish. The results are also good news for Chesapeake Bay, where striped bass play an important ecological role as top predators.

The 2009 study, formally known as the Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey, recorded 8.4 fish per net haul, slightly above the historic average of 7.5 fish per net haul. VIMS and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) have been conducting the survey annually since 1967.

Survey results show that numbers of young-of-the-year striped bass in Virginia have now been average to above-average since 2003. Results from a similar survey in Maryland show that numbers of juvenile striped bass during the last two sampling years have been below average, although their 2009 results were within the expected range.

Professor Mary Fabrizio, who directs the Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey at VIMS, notes that the economic and ecological value of striped bass lends significant interest to the year-to-year status of their population. "By estimating the relative number of young-of-year striped bass," she says, "our survey provides an important measure of annual and long-term trends in the Bay's striped bass population."

The VIMS Juvenile Striped Bass Seine Survey, managed by Leonard Machut, currently samples 18 stations in the Rappahannock, York, and James River watersheds. Each year, biologists sample each site 5 times from early July through mid-September, deploying a 100-foot-long seine net from the shore. They count each netted fish, measure its fork length (the distance from snout to the fork in the tail), and return it to the water. These young striped bass generally measure between 40 and 100 mm (1.5-4 inches). Survey scientists measured a total of 1,408 juvenile striped bass in Virginia waters in 2009.

The Bay's striped bass populations have rebounded from historic lows in the late 1970s and early 1980s, following fishing bans enacted by Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia in the mid- to late-1980s. Since then, the Bay's striped bass population has increased to the point that striped bass are now considered recovered.

For more information about the Virginia Juvenile Striped Bass survey visit the survey's webpage at {{}}.