The interview-count creel survey was conducted from July through November in the 12-square mile area around Solomons, Maryland where the Patuxent River joins Chesapeake Bay. Fishermen trolling for striped bass and bluefish and still-fishing for spot, white perch, Atlantic croakers, etc., were interviewed in their skiffs, runabouts, private cruisers, party boats, and on piers.
Two types of total catch estimates, one based on personal interviews (I contacts) and the other on postal card questionnaires (C contacts), were made for the five-month period. A total of 50,300 fish, weighing approximately 26,000 pounds were caught byI parties, which, on the average, fished 2.6 hours until interviewed. Analysis ofC contacts which represented completed trips (35.8% of those distributed during the interviews) revealed that 167,000 fish, representing 12 species, and totalling 88,100 pounds, were caught. The average length of aC fishing trip was 5.5 hours.
Spot dominated the catches (80%), followed by striped bass, white perch, Atlantic croakers, bluefish, weakfish, and other species in order of importance.
Estimates fromC contacts were higher because they were based on at least double the time fished byI contacts. For example, theI vs.C contact data of fish catch (all species) per angler per trip for the two methods of fishing are as follows: (a) trolling, 1.2 vs. 2.9 fish; and (b) still-fishing, 3.7 vs. 10.6 fish per trip. Comparisons of other estimates revealed further differences. A modifiedt-test, however, indicated no significant differences between the catch/effort ratios ofI andC contacts, hence bias is apparently lacking in the latter group.
Scales from a sample of 286 striped bass taken by anglers revealed that 86 per cent were from age group II, or members of the 1958 year-class. Monthly length and weight data gathered from the apparently dominant 1958 year-class showed no increase in growth from July to November, suggesting that the high population density of two-year-old fish depressed normal increments of growth.
The average fork length of all striped bass in the sample was 13.2 inches, while that for are group II was 12.8. The mean weights for these two groups were: 1.3 and 1.2 pounds, respectively. Stomach contents of fish examined in September and October contained predominantly invertebrate and small fish remains and incidental plant fragments.