Here are excerpts from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's saltwater fishing predictions for 1978, with comments, where they apply, from Joe Boone of the Maryland Fisheries Administration.
AMERICAN WHITE SHAD. Catches should remain low. The general trend has been downward in recent years, with 900,000 pounds caught in 1976 compared to 1.6 million pounds in 1974. VIMS surveys in recent years indicate that reduced catches will continue through 1979.
Adds Boone: "The Maryland population is crashing. Landings have nose-dived in recent years. We haven't found any juveniles in four years in the upper bay. It bodes very poorly for the future of shad. The Virginia population is holding up even better than ours. They are just not producing any young."
ATLANTIC CROAKER: The catch should remain quite good in Virginia waters, even though much of the 1976 young were killed by last winter's freeze. Loss of one year's fish should not badly deplete the stock, and several sources reported catching many tiny croakers (1977 class) last fall. Large croakers should remain plentiful through 1978.
Adds Boone: The croakers that come back to the bay this summer should be big ones from the 1974 class. We could see a record.
BLACK DRUM: Should remain abundant.
BLUE FISH: Continued hordes. Don't put your fingers in the water.
BUTTERFISH: Should increase because offshore foreign fishing pressure has been reduced.
COBIA: Numbers too variable to predict. Many small fish are being caught from fishing piers.
RED DRUM: The number taken this fall both in Virginia and Carolina waters substantially increased. Good fishing for puppy drum, as well as large red drum, should continue for the next several years.
RIVER HERRING: The number born in 1975, especially bluebacks, was large, so unless many die in the ocean river herring should increase in 1979.
SPOT: Very large numbers of spot were caught in Virginia waters last summer during the VIMS bay/river cruise. They appeared most numerous in the Rappahannock River. Spot were not affected by the cold winter of 1977, so all sizes should be plentiful in 1978.
SUMMER FLOUNDER: Fishing should remain unchanged, or possibly improved. Very good catches forecast for early summer as the fish migrating northward enter our rivers.
Adds Boone, enthusiastically: "Our best news is the big-year class of summer flounder. They should be around in tremendous numbers in the lower Bay and on the ocean side.
WEAKFISH (SEA TROUT): Last year's catch of very large trout should be repeated or even exceeded this summer, and more record fish are expected. The total catch, however, probably will be reduced somewhat.
WHITE PERCH: Should be few. Some were believed killed by the 1977 winter.
Boone concurs: "They've been dropping slightly in recent years. We expect no change."