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Striped bass production in Chesapeake Bay is disappointing

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The 2012 fall striped bass season has gotten off to a disappointing start in Virginia’s saltwater, with a scarcity of school-size fish, the kind that brings joy to light-tackle anglers in the fall and winter.

Add to that even more bad news. Researchers working the Chesapeake Bay in both Maryland and Virginia report a poor 2012 striper year class. These are fish hatched this spring that anglers count on for providing sport in 3 or 4 years.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science recently reported that its survey of juvenile striped bass recorded less than three striper fingerlings per seine haul. That is significantly lower than the historic average of roughly seven per seine haul.

Not to worry; at least, not yet, says Mary Fabrizio, who directs the VIMS survey. It would take three-continuous years of poor recruitment before changes in management would be required, she said. Most hatches in recent years have been average to above average.

Poor year classes occur about every decade, the last one prior to this year’s was in 2002.

The Atlantic striped bass population has recovered from lows in the late 70s and early 80s when numbers dropped so low that fishing was shut down. More recently, anglers have expressed concerns about finding fewer school-size fish along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, but officials have not expressed alarm.

Sportsmen right about Jackson River case

The recent trespassing dispute on the Jackson River (See Oct. 18 Cochran Field Reports) had anglers warning that similar cases could pop up elsewhere in Virginia, driving sportsmen from what they believe are public resource.

Well, it has happened. This time it wasn’t a trout stream; this time the landowner lost the case; this time the attorney general’s office was involved.

Mark Perdue, a lawyer from Covington, filed a civil lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, claiming he owns four lots that include a 1.3-mile sandbar along Cedar Island on the Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The sandbar has been a popular spot for shore residents to sunbathe and swim.

Circuit Judge Frederick Lowe disagreed with Perdue on ownership of the sandbar, a position supported by the attorney general’s office.

The Eastern Shore News reported that Perdue said he will field an appeal based on his contention the state, not he, should bear the burden to prove who owns the land.    

Outdoor briefs

* Bryan Copley of Altavista finished 14th in the 2012 Cabela’s Bassmaster Federation National Championship on Wheeler Lake in Alabama. He turned in an admirable performance, but not good enough to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. The winner of the federation event was Indiana’s Mark Dove.

* A disease commonly called HD has killed more than 8,000 deer in Michigan, and the count is certain to climb. Some hunters are talking about skipping the season, which would be tough on businesses that cater to hunters. There are reports of HD-killed deer in Virginia, but not to the point of major concern, officials say.

* All it took was a 3.24-pound throwback striped bass to place in the top 10 of the Frank Skillman Fall Striper Tournament sponsored by the Smith Mountain Striper Club. The winning team was led by Mike Bendzus who entered 12.82-pounds.

Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament

A 45-pound, 8-ounce king mackerel is a new leader in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The fish was landed by Ken Neil, III of Seaford who also holds the lead in the tautog category with a 24-pound, 3-ounce state record. Here are the standings:

* Amberjack: 53 release citations

* Black Drum: 86 pounds, caught by Matthew Hamay, Gloucester, off Fisherman’s Island, 32 citations.

* Blue Marlin: 119 release citations

* Bluefish: four release citations

* Blueline Tilefish: 19 pounds, 8, Rickie Atkins, Ashburn, Norfolk Canyon, 270 citations

* Cobia: 97 pounds, Capt. Josh Jordan, Poquoson, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, 127 citations

* Crevalle Jack: three release citation

* Croaker: 3 pounds, 4 ounces, Richard Mansfield, Midlothian, Rappahannock River, three citations

* Dolphin: 43 pounds, Bob Swope, Charles City, Norfolk Canyon, 28 citations

* False Albacore, four release citations

* Flounder: 12 pounds, 12 ounces, Keith Cole, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, 94 citations

* Gray Triggerfish: 5 pounds, 14 ounces, Ira Hudson, Chincoteague, Chincoteague, 45 citations.

* King mackerel: 48 pounds, 8 ounces, Ken Neill, Seaford, along Virginia Beach, 21 citations

* Kingfish: 1 pound, 12 ounces, Brenda Fields, Machipongo, Hungar’s Creek, seven citations

* Pompano: 1 pounds, 13 ounces, Thomas Riley, Virginia Bach Virginia Beach surf, one citation.

* Red Drum: 692 release citations

* Sailfish: 80 release citations

* Sea Bass: 6 pounds, 12 ounces, Johnnie Parlow, Dewitt, Norfolk Canyon, 19 citations

* Shark: 52 release citations

* Sheepshead: 14 pounds, 8 ounces, Jason Perry, Port Haywood, Cut Channel, Buoy 39-47, 119 citations

* Spanish mackerel, 6 pounds, 12 ounces, Brandy Edwards, Reedville, Northern Neck artificial reef, three citations.

* Spearfish: seven release citation

* Speckled Trout: 14 pounds, 1 ounce, Michael Whittaker, Chesapeake, Elizabeth River, 543 citations

* Striped Bass: 74 pounds (state record), Cary Wolfe, Bristow, off Virginia Beach, 748 citations

* Swordfish: 446 pounds (state record), Joseph Harris, Virginia Beach, Norfolk Canyon, six citations

* Tarpon: 10 release citation

* Tautog: 24 pounds, 3 ounces (state record), Ken Neill, III, Seaford, Morgan Wreck, 72 citations

* Tuna (Bluefin): 321 pounds, Jay Barefoot, Hampton, off Sanbridge, 152 citations

* Tuna (other than bluefin) 253 pounds, 6 ounces, John Cullison, Lexington Park, Md., Washington Canyon, 18 citations

* Wahoo: 122 pounds, 1 ounce (state record), Susan Nelson, Whiteford, Md. off Wachapreague, 61 citations

* White Marline: 1,144 release citations

Total citations, 4,537

Meetings, seasons and events

* George Poveromo’s Saltwater Sportsman Seminar Series, Jan. 19, Virginia Beach,


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