Atlantic Weather May Be Key Culprit In Fish Decline

The striped bass is in trouble again.

During the 1980s, wildlife managers said these big, full-bodied fish — favorites of anglers along the East Coast — were overfished. So they laid down severe catch limits. The population recovered, and fishing resumed in what is considered one of conservation’s great success stories.

But now catches are down again, and some biologists say the problem may not be overfishing this time: It could be the weather.

Nearly 70 percent of the country’s striped bass come to the Chesapeake Bay to lay their eggs, including inlets like this one, where the Choptank and Tred Avon rivers meet.

Brad Burns, who started fishing for striped bass in 1960, says he and his fellow anglers, Stripers Forever, are singing the blues about striped bass.

“What we hear from people that go striped bass fishing — the general trend very decidedly is down,” Burns says.

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