The Striped Bass Advisory Board met Monday evening to pick up the problem of the spring 1992 trophy striped bass season.
The state Department of Natural Resources hopes to have the spring season all wrapped up by September to present at the meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
The advisory board is getting much better. With a minimum amount of rhetoric, it came up with a realistic proposal that was accepted, 7-1.
The DNR and the conservatives were happy with the 1991 trophyseason when only 147 legal rockfish were taken. The charter boat representatives were concerned whether their clients would return if theminimum size limit was kept near 36 inches.
One DNR representative pointed out that if the minimum size was set much below 36 inches that part of the harvest might have to come from the fall allocation. Currently, the spring fishery does not come out of the pre-migration allocation, it is based on the fishing pressure the migrating stocks would receive if they were moving up or down the coast and not in theChesapeake Bay.
The DNR review of the spring fishery indicated that approximately 20 percent of the trophy fish caught had not yet spawned. The DNR representatives said they do not know what percentage of the fish that come to the bay do not spawn. Not all fish spawn, butno one had any statistics regarding what percentage spawned.
The DNR said that 42.6 percent of the striped bass caught during the 1991trophy season were taken on the first day -- May 11 -- and that 85 percent of the trophy fish were caught between then and May 15.
TheDNR said it would be comfortable with a harvest of approximately 3,000 striped bass during the 1992 season. Based on its calculations this number would be achieved if the minimum size was set between 32 and33 inches.
The SBAB proposed that the 1992 spring trophy striped bass season would run May 1 to 31 with minimum size set at 32 inches.The DNR would have the authority to close down the season early if the quota was achieved. The proposal was passed, 7-1, with the minority opinion for a more liberal minimum size limit (28 inches).
The SBAB then pat themselves on the back for "inching forward in a conservative nature" and "still being conservative, but giving the state a reasonable season."
The SBAB did a good job Monday night. The next SBAB meeting will be July 29 when I expect the DNR will respond to the advisory board proposal.
A 32-inch minimum size probably would be OK, at least a few fish would be caught by Maryland anglers.
Most folks don't realize that in addition to the natural spawn, Marylandalso stocks about 1 million striped bass per year from the hatchery program. These are not larvae or fingerlings, but 6- to 9-inch stripers that have a very good probability of surviving.
Tis time to start the annual striped bass Young of Year Surveys. This is probably the most misunderstood survey and data imaginable.
In theory the survey will provide an index that represents the relative abundanceof striped bass that survived this year's spawning process, i.e, young of the year.
The survey was started in the early 1950s and was designed to determine if we had a very poor or a very good hatch.
In reality, setting standards between an overall index of three against an index of eight is not realistic. The survey is not that definitive. It is, however, the only scientific tool we have to measure the size of this year's class.
The DNR probably will hold the early survey results tightly while it conjures up how it will explain the situation to us mere mortals. Tune in next week and we'll have you talking YOY-ese with the best of them.
Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.