The annual young-of-the-year index for rockfish was announced yesterday as 59.3, the highest recorded in Maryland since the survey of spawning success began in 1954. (Related article, Page 1B.)
But equally important is that the young-of-the-year indexes for virtually all other tidewater fish that spawn in the Chesapeake Bay's tributaries are up, as well.
"White perch, yellow perch, hickory shad, American shad -- all appear to be well-above the averages this year," said Don Cosden, who leads the Department of Natural Resources fisheries-service teams that complete the survey.
The index is the average number of juveniles caught in a standard seine haul at 22 sites throughout Maryland's tidewater. Each site is sampled three times each summer, using a 100-foot long, 4-foot deep net.
"I have been pulling that seine for 20 years, and until a few years ago I had never even seen a hickory shad," Cosden said after Gov. Parris N. Glendening's news conference. "But they are starting to show up in some areas, like the Potomac River."
For rockfish, the index surpassed the mark of 39.8 set in 1993. In both 1993 and this year, results from the Choptank River contributed heavily to the average. This year the Choptank River average was 154.4; in 1993, it was 105.5.
The four primary geographic areas for the survey are the head of the bay (24.8), the Potomac River (48.5), the Choptank and the Nanticoke River (43.6).
Jim Uphoff, head of DNR's fisheries-stock assessment program, said final figures are not yet available for species other than rockfish, because Cosden's crews are still sampling auxiliary sites, such as the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek on the Patuxent River.
Maurice Roher of Friendship has caught a state-record Spanish mackerel -- weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Rohrer was fishing just east of Buoy 83A aboard Capt. Charles Brincefield's charter-boat Charlotte K, when he caught the record fish on a Clark spoon.
Upper Chesapeake Bay: Rockfish action has been excellent from Love Point to Swan Point, with chummers catching many fish over 30 inches. Anglers note that larger fish are holding beneath smaller ones, and small weights added to baited lines will take larger fish. Western Shore chumming areas with good production have been Baltimore Light and Marker No. 14 off the Magothy River. Drifted live eels have worked well for rock in the 24- to 30-inch class in the Poole's Island area. Catfishing still very good off Tolchester, Middle River, at Belevedere Shoals and in the Chester River. White perch at the bay bridge pilings and in the lower Chester over shell bottoms.
Middle Chesapeake Bay: From Holland Point to the Silver Ball, white-on-white bucktails have been taking 18- to 24-inch rockfish along the 35-foot contour. In the Breezy Point area, trollers are taking fewer, but larger, fish. Chummers have been doing well at Cove Point and off the mouth of the West River. Breaking schools scattered through the area have been mostly smaller stripers. Shell bottoms in the Choptank River, at Thomas and Tolley Points, all have been good for white perch. Flounder to 18 inches from the edges east of Buoy 84.
Lower Chesapeake Bay: Sea trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and rockfish have been mixed and breaking in northern Tangier Sound, Kedges Straits, Hooper Island Straits, the Triangle and Smith Point. Flounder good in edges 15 to 30 feet deep in Tangier Sound and from the American Mariner wreck to Buoy 74.
Ocean City inshore: Flounder fishing slacking off in the back bays. Sea trout improving, with fish to 6 pounds being taken from deeper portions of back bays. Night fishing for stripers good at the U.S. 50 bridge. Small sea trout, bluefish and flounder at the inlet.
Ocean City offshore: Yellowfin tuna at the Hot Dog and Hambone. Dolphin plentiful from the bass pots to the 40-fathom line. Sea trout, croaker and flounder from 1 to 3 miles off the beach.
Liberty Reservoir: Best bet is crappie around the beaver huts.
Piney Run reservoir: Yellow perch on deeper sides of weed beds, crappie on brush structure.
Prettyboy Reservoir: White perch schooled and plentiful, but suspended deep. Bass fishing fair.
Loch Raven Reservoir: Bass around the weed beds, white perch suspended over deeper channels and crappie suspended in the coves.
Deep Creek Lake: Rocky points and drops should produce good smallmouth bass fishing. Trout action uncertain at the dam and yellow perch and bluegills in 6 to 12 feet of water.
Upper Potomac River: Unfishable and unsafe for recreational activity because of Hurricane Fran.
Pub Date: 9/12/96