It was a fair to average year of striped bass reproduction on the Hudson River in 2021, just above the 25th percentile and a shade below the long-term average recruitment numbers for spawning response on the Hudson. In fact given a 5% margin of error is incorporated into the young of the year (YOY) index, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), the 2021 recruitment numbers are right at the long-term average mark.
NYDEC’s Hudson River striped bass YOY index value provides an estimate of annual recruitment for striped bass in the Hudson River. This index is generated through a beach seine survey at 13 sites in the lower Hudson River conducted bi-weekly from July to November. In addition to the Hudson River seining efforts, NYDEC also collects striped bass data in the Western Long Island (WLI) survey. This survey captures predominantly 1-year-old fish and is used in striped bass stock assessments.
According to Stephanie Rekemeyer with the NYDEC, the Hudson River YOY survey and WLI 1-year old survey from the following year generally track well with each other (see figure B below). Preliminary analysis suggests a nearly average abundance for age 1 fish in 2021 but a final preparation of the 2021 WLI survey will be complete in February 2022.
Rekemeyer noted that a recreational slot limit for striped bass was implemented in the Hudson River in 2015 limiting harvest to predominantly male fish, and that the average index value in the six years since that regulation change was 18.4 fish/haul. Rekemeyer said this is an improvement over the average index value from the previous six years, 2008-2014, of 15.7 fish/haul.
In addition, the 2020 YOY index value was the fourth highest (35.4 fish/haul) in the 37-year time period of Hudson River’s spawning research.
In the fall of 2021, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the results of their juvenile striped bass survey studying recruitment numbers for YOY in the Upper Chesapeake region. While the 2021 YOY index of 3.2 was slightly larger than the 2020 numbers, the recruitment findings on upper Chesapeake striped bass in 2021 were still well below the long-term average of 11.4.
A similar Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) juvenile striped bass seine survey recorded a mean value of 6.30 fish per seine haul in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay, which is virtually identical to the historical average of 7.77 fish per seine haul in that particular spawning area of the Chesapeake. New Jersey’s Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDFW) also does sampling on the Delaware River to get information on spawning stripers in the upper Delaware. The 2021 NJDFW seine survey began on August 2 and was completed on August 24; in total, 117 striped bass were caught with 100 measured as young of the year (86%) which put the monthly YOY geometric mean at .59 which ranks 31st out of 41 time series.