There is some good news with striped bass. After several years of a declining fishery, we have reason to hope for a rebound in the future. One of the indicators is the annual survey of young-of-the-year striped bass in the nursery areas of Maryland's and Virginia's portions of the Chesapeake Bay. The abundant numbers of 20-inch striped bass that are in the bay now are from a very good 2011 class.
That was preceded by several years of poor-to-average year classes and followed by a very poor class in 2012. There was some improvement in 2013 and 2014 to get back to average. The 2015 numbers are in and they look good. The Maryland survey is the eighth-highest ever recorded, with about double the average number of young-of-the-year striped bass. The Virginia survey is not as impressive, with the number of fish falling within the statistical range of average, but it still had about 12 fish per seine haul, compared to the historical average of nine per seine haul. If we can be conservative with the 2011 and 2015 classes, we should have a strong fishery again in four to five years.
There are some issues being discussed at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that will be of interest to anglers. At the Oct. 27 meeting, it will be decided whether to keep the winter crab dredge fishery closed. It has been closed as a conservation measure. This fishery targets mature female crabs, and the dredging process crushes some of the crabs. Some within the industry are requesting that this fishery be reopened this winter. If you have an opinion on the issue, you have until the Oct. 27 meeting to send in your comments, and the public is welcome to attend the meeting and express opinions.
Another issue: Some anglers are concerned that the cobia fishery may be too excellent and the number of fish being caught is not sustainable. They are requesting measures be taken to decrease the catch. This will be discussed at the Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting Oct. 20. Cobia anglers will need to pay attention to this.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will hold a free boaters' safety course Nov. 7 in Gloucester. Several marine police officers will conduct the course. For more information and registration, visit: register-ed.com/events/view/65320. The Marine Police can conduct a boating safety course for your group. If interested, contact Laurie Naismith at VMRC via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
A look at what is happening at some of our local fishing spots:
York River: Grafton Fishing Supply reported that a few spot are being caught. There are decent numbers of speckled trout being caught, with most being small, but a few nice fish have been caught in the river. Striped bass catches are picking up on fish up to 30 inches long.
Buckroe Fishing Pier: More striped bass are in the catches. Some keeper-sized flounder have been caught on the pier this week. Spot catches are still good.
Chickahominy River: Conway's River Rat Guide Service said the catfish bite is good. Crappie fishing is improving. Good numbers of yellow perch are being caught, and bass and pickerel are active.
James River: Wilcox Bait and Tackle reported that some spot are being caught. Striped bass more than 30 inches are being caught at the crossings. A lot of gray trout are being caught. Most are small, but some keeper-sized fish are in the mix. Catfish action is picking up in the upper reaches.
Mobjack Bay: Speckled trout are being caught. Striped bass catches are picking up, with a mixed size of fish — from too small to keep, to as large as 35 inches long. Spot are still around.
Eastern Shore: Tautog and flounder are being caught at the Concrete Ships. Red drum are still a possibility, and some speckled trout can be found in the bayside and seaside creeks and backwaters.
Little Creek Reservoir: Some bass are being caught with some good top-water action early and late in the day. Crappie and perch catches are good.
Back River Reef: Tautog are on the structure, and flounder are around the reef.
Offshore: Bishop Fishing Supply said that when boats have gotten out, dolphin catches have been good. Boats fishing at night have had good success with swordfish. Wahoo and some tuna are around. The ocean wrecks are holding sea bass, triggerfish and flounder.
Poquoson Flats: There are some school-sized striped bass on the flats. Speckled trout continue to be caught here and inside of Back River.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Tautog are active on the structure, and there are still some sheepshead here. Big red drum continue to be caught.
Beaverdam Reservoir: The reservoir will hold its tournament series championship, the Big Bash Classic Tournament, on Saturday. Bass fishing has picked up with the cooler water temperatures. Crappie, pickerel and catfish are becoming more active.
Waller Mill Reservoir: Some nice striped bass were caught this week. Largemouth bass are active, with a lot of 2- to 3-pound bass being caught. Yellow and silver perch catches are good, and more crappie are being caught.