Virginia’s Trophy Rockfish Season Is Canceled

Illustration credit: Dryke

Virginia Marine Resources Commission officials closed the popular trophy season for striped bass in the state. This is why.

Since 2010, the fisheries of the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River have seen a stark decline in Virginia’s striped bass population. Anglers harvested 368,000 rockfish in 2010 compared to only 52,000 in 2018. The fisheries’ biologists are deeply concerned for the sustainability of the large striped bass.

And the Virginia Marine Resources Commission is paying attention.

Trophy Rockfish Season Closed

In a 7-0 vote, the Commission moved to cancel the upcoming trophy rockfish seasons. The closure affects both the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. This decision effectively closes the fishery to catching and keeping striped bass over 36 inches.

However, anglers will still be able to catch and harvest two striped bass measuring 20-28 inches over the course of the season.

That’s because, in the world of striped bass, the trophy-size fish are often spawning females. Sustaining a higher number of these large fish is necessary for the viability of the species. And, according to the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association, 70 percent of anglers interviewed in Virginia agree with the closure.

The organization urged other state-managed fisheries to also close fishing for trophy rock bass.

“We believe Virginia alone will not make any significant difference in rebuilding the stocks, and urge other states to follow, especially Maryland where they are harvesting far more fish than any other state,” the group said in a release.

The Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission will consider the striped bass assessment next week.

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt/Fish Editor. She’s an avid outdoorswoman, and you can find her anywhere from the back of a good horse in Whitefish to solo hunting the breaks of Montana, to backpacking with her border collie in the Absarokas.

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