Area 6 Fisheries Biologist Tyler Grabowski holding one of the many adult Striped Bass collected in 2021.
It was during the month of May last year that I found PFBC scientists electroshocking the waters where I had went to fish. I watched the process unfold on how they would shock, net, measure, clip a scale, insert a tag, and then release the fish back into the water. I didn't say it at the time, but there is fish mortality that occurs during this process, I saw a few fish make their way to the bottom bellied up, and not move again. This effort and report is similar to the one that Maryland does in the Chesapeake, but this one isn't looking into YOY recruitment numbers for that years class. This is more just a survey of how many and how big. What I take from this survey is, there's more horny guys than girls, and the bigger females have already came and went, no pun intended. Well there is good news coming out of the Delaware this past year. Below's content is off the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.You can see that report HERE
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) assessed the Striped Bass spawning stock in the Delaware Estuary between May 3 and May 24, 2021. Annually, PFBC staff conducts adult Striped Bass sampling at 21 index sites between the mouth of Rancocas Creek, NJ (river mile 109) downriver to the mouth of Raccoon Creek, NJ (river mile 80). Each of the 21 sites were sampled twice using boat electrofishing (42 total samples). Additional collection efforts (beyond the 21 historical sites) were conducted at Trenton Falls near the head-of-tide to capture larger Striped Bass (> 16 in.) for tagging purposes.
A total of 336 fish were captured at the 42 index sites in 2021. Males accounted for 78% of the total catch and ranged from 8 to 38 in., while females accounted for 13% of the total catch and ranged from 25 to 45 in. The remaining 9% of the total catch was comprised of fish of unknown sex. Sex could not be determined for these fish because they were small, sexually immature juveniles or larger fish that were not “running ripe” (actively flowing milt) or did not exhibit distinguishing features (large, bulbous stomachs in pre-spawn females) at the time of capture. Fish of unknown sex ranged from 8 to 25 in. The total catch rate (19.7 fish/hr), catch > 12 in (17.1 fish/hr), and catch > 28 in (2.2 fish/hr) of Striped Bass during the 2021 survey were all higher than long-term averages (Figure 2).The total catch rate of Striped Bass from the 2021 survey represents the eleventh highest catch rate on record since monitoring began in 1996. Further, the catch rate of Striped Bass > 28 in was the tenth highest catch rate recorded over the time series. The catch rates of these larger fish, until 2021, had been declining for several years
Striped Bass reproductive events that result in large year classes contribute substantially to the overall population. Therefore, it is important to track the progression of these year class to the adult population. Biologists evaluate year class contribution by collecting scales from individuals and assign an age estimate to that fish. Due to differences in growth between male and female Striped Bass, ages are not assigned to fish of unknown sex. Half (50%) of the Striped Bass aged in 2021 represented fish from the 2017 and 2018 year classes.