Striped Bass State of the Union

The results of the 2022 striped bass young of the year surveys are all in. What will it mean for anglers?
54 pound striped bass
This hefty striper, taken by Lawrence Seaman on Hugh Chancey’s boat on June 30, 2022 weighed 54 pounds before it was released. Hugh Chancey

This fall’s fantastic fishing makes it easy to be optimistic about the state of the striped bass fishery. But the results of 2022’s young of the year, or YOY, surveys give anglers a reason to temper that enthusiasm. There are three surveys of particular note, conducted on the upper Chesapeake, the lower Chesapeake, and the Hudson River. Overall, they show business as usual, though there are some reasons to get excited.

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Maryland Juvenile Striped Bass Index
Maryland’s juvenile striped bass index has offered a snapshot of the striper population for nearly 70 years. Courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources conducts the survey on the upper reaches of the Chesapeake, pulling a 100-foot seine net the same way it has since 1954 to get its samples. The results are presented as an index, with the figure representing the average number of recently hatched striped bass captured in each sample. The results of the 2022 survey was 3.6, which is significantly below the 11.3 average for the life of the survey. Still it was higher than the previous year’s index of 3.2, providing some hope.

Lower Chesapeake Bay

There were no surprises from the study conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the lower Chesapeake since 1967. This survey also utilizes a 100-foot seine but presents the findings as the mean number of juveniles collected per each haul of the net, which the researchers call the recruitment index. The 2022 value of 7.95 is slightly above the historic average of 7.77 fish per seine haul. It is the tenth consecutive year of average or above-average recruitment in Virginia waters, so the fish seem to be holding their ground there.

Hudson River

Hudson River YOY Abundance Index
The findings from New York State’s survey indicates this year’s hatch was higher than the long term average. Courtesy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The survey conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the Hudson River offered another bright spot, with numbers of juvenile stripers caught in their seine pulls coming in just over the long-term average. This was up somewhat significantly from 2021, but well below the high in 2020. But if the fish from these two year classes, as well as those in the above-average years of 2014, 2015, and 2018, grow well fishing along the New York Bight should only continue to improve.