It’s still early, we’re just getting into June, but so far this has been proving to be a great year for striped bass fishing. And there’s a way in which this is not totally unexpected. For many fishermen, there was a sense it might be coming.
"Most of our stripers are spawned down in the Chesapeake Bay," says Kevin Blinkoff, of On The Water magazine. "And every summer the Maryland Department of Natural Resources does a survey of how many striped bass were spawned."
The spawn in 2011 was particularly abundant. Angler and fisheries managers have been watching that year class of fish coming along. This year they have grown out to 28" to 32" inches, which makes them "keepers" in Massachusetts (recreational fishermen can keep one striped bass a day at 28" inches or longer).
So all those 28"-32" fish that have been showing up? Those are six-year-olds, and we have 2011 to thank for them. It was a very good year for morone saxatalis.
It's also nice to note that the 2015 spawn was abundant as well. This means, not only are there a lot of 12"-14" stripers around now, which are nice catch-and-release (and great for fly fishermen), but those juveniles should continue to return to Cape Cod year after year, until they too pass into the keeper stage, in another four or so years. That's our future striped bass stock. Kiss them before you toss them back.
Mixing in with the smaller and keeper-size bass this spring, we've seen some bigger-than-average fish too. There are multiple reports of 30lb-40lb fish being landed – fish we haven't typically seen this early in the season. There's no good reason for them that anyone knows, they're just a gift of the fishing gods.
Say thank you.
In the audio below, Kevin Blinkoff rounds up the fishing action with a look ahead to this weekend (those good-size fish should be pushing into Cape Cod Bay, and the black sea bass bite remains hot). Give it a listen.