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Warm Winters, Low Water Flow Are Leading Factors in Poor Striped Bass Spawn

Environmental factors such as warmer, drier winters and decreased spring water flow rates are likely driving forces behind the diminished spawning success of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, according to Maryland Department of Natural Resources scientists. Striped bass, or rockfish, have had low spawning success numbers for five consecutive years. DNR’s juvenile striped bass survey released Thursday found a 2023 young-of-year index of 1.0, compared to a long-term average of 11.1. The juvenile index, which measures the number of first-year striped bass per sample area, has been below 3.6 since 2019. Maryland scientists say that these juvenile numbers are concerning, but that continued study and management can help provide for a better chance for a successful spawn in years that present the right environmental conditions. “Until we start having cold winters and wet springs again, you’re not guaranteed to have that good, successful reproduction by increasing the size of the stock,” said Eric Durell, a DNR striped bass biologist and the leader of the survey project, noting the weak relationship between overall stock size and year-class recruitment. “We have to conserve and build the population to take advantage of the more favorable conditions in the years they occur.” Despite the low […]

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