Here's what you need to know about striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and why you haven't seen any for years:
A Maryland fisherman has been sentenced to a year and a half in prison for his role in the illegal harvesting nearly 200,000 pounds of striped bass.
Prosecutors say Michael D. Hayden of Tilghman Island, Maryland, was sentenced Friday in federal court in Baltimore. Prosecutors say U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett sentenced him to spend six months on home detention after he completes his prison sentence. Hayden has been ordered to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution to the state as well as a $40,000 fine.
Hayden acknowledged as part of a plea deal that from at least 2007 to 2011 he and co-conspirators illegally harvested 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay.
Now we know the real reason, right? This is from 2012:
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says the number of young striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay has hit a record low. Even so, scientists say fishermen and diners need not worry, for now at least.
Since 1954, scientists like Erik Durell have been swiping nets through the Chesapeake Bay and counting baby Rockfish. On average, he'll get about 12 tiny fish per sample. This year, the average is less than one — 0.9, in fact.
"It's been a very poor year for striped bass reproduction," says Durell.
The reason is that it's also been a very dry year. Striped Bass or, as rockfish as diners might know them, swim in from the ocean and far upstream to spawn, kind of like salmon. The trouble is, if the flow in rivers and creeks is too slow because of a lack of rain, the eggs don't get carried down to where they need to go. Instead, they fall to the bottom and die in the mud.
There is good news, though.
"These fish are long lived and return to spawn again and again, and that sort of overcomes the unfortunate years when things don't work out," says Durell.
Last year for example, the number of young was up almost 300 percent. Durell says it should even out as long as people don't get in the way.
From now on, I think it would be safe to say that the answer could be, "some asshole is taking all the fish."