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Chesapeake Bay 2022 Young-of-Year Survey Results Announced

Striped Bass Reproduction Remains Low; Spot Abundance is Highest in Decade

Photo of four people inspecting juvenile fish at the water's edge

Maryland Department of Natural Resources scientists conduct the annual young-of-year survey each summer. Maryland DNR photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced results of this year’s juvenile striped bass survey, which tracks the reproductive success of the iconic fish in the Chesapeake Bay. The 2022 young-of-year index is 3.6, which is slightly higher than last year’s result, but remains below the long-term average of 11.3.

The Atlantic coastal striped bass population has decreased in size, but is still capable of strong reproduction with the right environmental conditions. Variable spawning success is a well-known characteristic of the species. Biologists continue to examine factors that might limit spawning success.

Biologists captured more than 40,000 fish of 58 different species during the 3-month survey. One positive result was the increased abundance of spot, a popular species used for food and bait. Spot abundance was the highest observed in over a decade.

Atlantic Coast states enacted responsible conservation measures in recent years to reduce harvest and protect striped bass during the spawning season. Maryland will work with other states in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to develop additional measures to enhance the striped bass population through the Atlantic striped bass fishery management plan.

For this annual survey, fishery managers examine 22 sites located in four major spawning areas: the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Potomac rivers, and the upper Chesapeake Bay. Biologists visit each site three times per summer, collecting fish with two sweeps of a 100-foot beach seine net. The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass captured in each sample.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducts a similar survey in the southern portion of Chesapeake Bay.

Graph of historic Maryland Juvenile Striped Bass index from 1954 through 2022