PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (April 22, 2009) Call them rockfish, rock, stripers or striped bass, but Morone saxatilis is back to spawn in the Chesapeake Bay and area anglers are out in force for the striped bass season that began Saturday, April 18.
During the trophy season that runs through May 15, anglers may catch one striped bass per day measuring over 28 inches in the lower Potomac River and throughout much of the Chesapeake Bay.
The striped bass, named the official fish of the State of Maryland in 1965, gets its name from the seven or eight dark stripes that run from head to tail. The fish has an olive green back, fading to light silver on its sides, with a white underside. Known for its size and ability to put up a good fight, the striped bass is considered by many to be the premier sport fish on the Bay. It is also mighty tasty.
While adult striped bass swim in the ocean, they lay their eggs in fresh water. Between April and June, they move up into tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay to spawn. The Bay and its tributaries are the primary spawning area for up to 90 percent of Atlantic coast striped bass. The young striped bass spend three to five years in the Bay before migrating out to the Atlantic, where they may live up to 30 years. The record for a striped bass caught on the Chesapeake Bay is 67 pounds, 8 ounces for a fish caught in 1995.
Sport fishing has made Calvert County the home of the Bays largest charter boat fleet. Anglers from across the East Coast and beyond visit the county to chase the big ones with guidance from the areas savvy boat captains. The sport has been a boon for local outfits like Bunkys Charter Boats, a Solomons Island institution that runs three charter boats and is celebrating 20 years in business.
This is always an exciting time of year for the charter boat business, said Kathy Conner, co-owner of Bunkys Charter Boats. The trophy season is very big for us. Folks are anxious to get out and land that big rockfish. Our captains have decades of experience and our fishing parties almost always go home with a full creel.