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Striped Bass


May 10-20, 2004
Sampling Technique: Daylight Electrofishing

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission completed its 2004 striped bass electrofishing survey in the Delaware Estuary on May 20. Striped bass were collected from 21 historic sites between Rancocas Creek, New Jersey and the Commodore Barry Bridge. Since 1995 these 21 index sites have been sampled twice each spring for a total of 42 electrofishing runs. In 2004 each of the 21 index sites was sampled once. This provided the time necessary to continue the 2003 initiative to explore upriver areas for significant striped bass spawning activity as well as free up valuable time during the spring to survey additional inland waters.

Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann with 42 inch male striped bass
Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann with 42 inch male striped bass

Seven days of electrofishing resulted in the total catch of 189 striped bass between 4 and 42 inches long. Pink United States Fish and Wildlife Service tags were inserted into 109 of the striped bass collected during this year's survey. The information gathered from anglers who report catching a tagged striped bass to the toll free phone number listed on the tag allow biologists to monitor striped bass movement and estimate their annual mortality. The tagging study has also provided evidence that striped bass show fidelity to specific spawning sites.

Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann and Fisheries Technician electrofish for striped bass as the sun sets over northeast Philadelphia
Area Fisheries Manager Mike Kaufmann and Fisheries Technician electrofish for striped bass
as the sun sets over northeast Philadelphia

Analysis of the catch effort data (the number of striped bass collected per hour of electrofishing) since 1995 suggests that there has been a downward trend in the total number of striped bass and the number of striped bass between 12 and 28 inches long present in the Pennsylvania portion of the Delaware Estuary during the spring spawning run; however, the number of large striped bass (28 inches long and longer) has remained relatively stable since monitoring began (see figure below). Pennsylvania’s data will be analyzed with data collected from all of the Atlantic coast states from Main to North Carolina to determine the overall health of the Atlantic coast striped bass population.

Number of striped bass collected per hour of electrofishing 1995-2004

Beginning in 2003 and continued in 2004 biologists surveyed 13 potential spawning sites to identify additional striped bass spawning activity upriver of Neshaminy Creek. Although measurable striped bass spawning activity was documented as far upstream as the Pennsylvania turnpike bridge, the major spawning activity apparently occurs downriver from Neshaminy Creek. An ichthioplankton study contracted by the Delaware Basin States’ fisheries agencies in the late 1980’s, including the PFBC, indicated that the primary spawning ground was between the mouth of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and the Delaware state line.

Pennsylvania turnpike bridge marks the upper limit of measurable striped bass spawning activity in the Delaware Estuary
Pennsylvania turnpike bridge marks the upper limit of measurable striped bass spawning activity in the Delaware Estuary

The large size, outstanding fighting ability, and quality flesh has made recreational fishing for striped bass extremely popular along the Atlantic coast. Pennsylvania anglers have slowly discovered why these fish are so popular. Areas of the Delaware Estuary where we once saw very little angling activity in the past are now routinely lined with anglers during the spawning season. Popular Delaware Estuary striped bass fishing tips can be found in the May-June 2004 (Big City Stripers under Feature Articles) issue of the Pennsylvania Angler and Boater magazine.

Anglers line up their boats across from the City of Philadelphia’s Lindon Ave. boat ramp in hopes of catching striped bass
Anglers line up their boats across from the City of Philadelphia’s Lindon Ave. boat ramp in hopes of catching striped bass

If you plan to fish for striped bass in the Delaware Estuary please check the Pennsylvania Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws because striped bass fishing in the Delaware Estuary are governed differently than striped bass on inland waters.

 
-- Dave Miko, Area 6 Fisheries Biologist

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