The striped bass catch and release season at the lower Susquehanna River and flats area has really kicked into gear for fishermen and the action is sure to continue this week. Water flows through the Conowingo Dam have been moderate to below average so water clarity has been good. Water temperatures have fallen into the low 50’s with the cool wet weather that settled in early this week but with warm sunny weather forecasted water temperatures will surely raise. Fishermen have been casting all manner of jerkbaits, surface plugs, crankbaits and soft plastic jigs. Most of the action has been occurring in the river during a water release or a falling tide and in the channels and deeper areas around the flats. Patrick Marcinko takes a quick pose with his dad before releasing this fish that he caught on a spoon.
There will be a clean up day at the Conowingo Creek boat launch this Saturday April 25th starting at 9:00 am. Volunteers will do there best to help clean up litter in the adjacent areas of one of the few free public launching ramps on the Susquehanna.
Fishermen have been reporting white perch are holding in many of the deeper areas of the lower Susquehanna River but have been refusing to bite last week. Warmer water temperatures this week may change all that and fishermen will use small tandem jigs to catch up a nice mess of white perch. Channel catfish are roaming the channel areas and can be caught on most any kind of cut bait. The hickory shad have begun their travels into Deer Creek this week and fishermen are enjoying excellent catch and release fishing opportunities there. Parking has of course been a problem and finding elbow room at the mouth of the creek can be scarce at times.
Bob Pitt sent in a report on his first hickory shad trip to Deer Creek and how helpful fellow anglers can be. I waded out to a spot just south of were deer creek flows into the river. There I joined a man that was from Columbia Maryland and had a great day talking and watching him catch the shad on his fly rod. I was using for the first time my new spinning outfit that was collapsible. The man from Columbia told me to change to a red dart or fly, which he was having excellent luck on. Every other cast he was reeling a shad in. I on the other hand wasn't haven't that good of luck. I was catching maybe one to his three, but we were both enjoying the action and talking about fishing and watching the blue herring stalk out in the waters for hickory shad.
It was a great time I had talking and watching and learning from the fisherman from Columbia MD. I left around three hours and had about ten to my total, I know he had 50, maybe 60 plus he had caught. He caught so many he had to change his worn out fly. I just wanted to say thanks to him for the nice conversation and telling me what color to use when I first got there. I had a blast even though the wind was in our face and blowing around 20 mile an hour; it was a great time on the Susquehanna shad fishing with a friend from Maryland.
Fishermen enjoyed good trolling opportunities for striped bass this past weekend and good fishing should continue for several weeks. Most fishermen found success trolling parachutes and bucktails in white or combinations of chartreuse and white as well as spoons. The channel edges and the Dumping Grounds is the place to be if one is trolling above the Bay Bridge. This group of happy fishermen chartered a boat out of Rock Hall and hold up the fruits of their opening day fishing trip in the upper bay.
Shoreline fishermen were out in force for opening day and the beaches at Sandy Point State Park and fishing Piers such as Matapeake saw a lot of hopeful fishermen. More than a few caught some nice fish; many more just enjoyed the opportunity to catch one and a beautiful day.
Middle Bay Region
Fishermen were out in force trolling with all manner of planer boards and trailing lines. Yes it was congested at times and yes some boat captains need to chill out but by far most fishermen enjoyed a great opening day. One certainly could not complain about the weather. Fishermen congregated near traditional hot spots but many chose to try and stay away from the crowds and did just as well. Most fishermen landed some number of fish, some limited out in short order and some were skunked; a typical fishing story. White parachutes and bucktails seemed to edge out chartreuse although many found a combination of the two a winner.
Saturdays are always precious to all of us and family schedules can be tough at times. More than a few anglers missed the opening morning and went out later in the day missing the crowds. Christopher Chiodo sent in this report supporting that old phrase of “better late than never”. We didn’t get out on Saturday until almost 5:00 p.m., its lacrosse season and both boys had games. Four of us were on board, me, as Captain, my two boys Christian 13 and Michael 8 and Michael’s godfather Peter McGraw. We headed out of the South River with the plan to motor across towards the eastern side of the deep water channel and look for sign before putting out the lines. We never got there, in about 38 feet of water; the sonar started marking schools from 10-15 feet. I decided to put the lines out right away. As my son was setting out the third of our six lines, tandem parachutes, set back ~80 feet, the first striper hit (he didn’t have a chance to put the rod in the holder). Christian did a nice job, with no help, bringing the 30” striper to the boat, netted nicely by Pete. About 20 minutes later, as I had just finished setting all six lines and was satisfied that all drags were set correctly, the 13/0 Crippled Alewife hit, 140 feet back. This striper was heavy, 35” and 18 lbs.
There are a lot of spawning striped bass holding in the upper reaches of the Choptank River this week waiting for warmer water temperatures; that is occurring later this week and with temperatures expected to hit 80-degrees on Saturday; there will be a large spawn. This means that once these fish spawn they will be headed for the bay and there will be a large amount of post-spawn fish entering the bay and available to fishermen. A number of fishermen reported the lack of bait spotted on depth finders last week and others reported finding dense schools along the shipping channel edge. Some fishermen were able to identify the bait as hickory shad and river herring after snagging several while trolling.
Fishermen looking for something else to fish for besides striped bass have fishing for white perch in the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers. Cooler weather has many of the perch holding deep and unwilling to bite but that should change this weekend with warmer weather predicted. Chuck Prahl who is one of the most knowledgeable fishermen on the Choptank reported that he was looking for white perch up to Jamaica Point and came up empty. He mentioned that he feels that will change this week with warmer temperatures. Soon these white perch will be fanning out into the lower sections of the tidal rivers and creeks and provide some excellent fishing around docks, piers and oyster bars.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
It was a beautiful opening day for many fishermen in the lower bay region; the action was a bit subdued due but is expected to intensify for the next several weeks as warmer temperatures will cause striped bass to spawn and then exit the tidal rivers. Post-spawn striped bass are already pouring out of the Patuxent. Potomac, Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers and the numbers will only increase with warmer weather. Fishermen enjoyed excellent fishing around many of the traditional locations along the shipping channel and fishermen noted that most fish came off the planner boards and lines far behind the boat. David Oliver certainly happy with his fish he was able to take home for dinner.
The trolling action for big post-spawn striped bass was good over the weekend along the channel edges in the lower Potomac in the vicinity of St. Georges Island and Buoy 9. Certainly the channel edge near Buoys 72 and 72A, Hooper’s Island Light and the western side of the shipping channel from Cedar Point north was a favorite with fishermen. White seemed to be edging out chartreuse on Saturday and many fishermen found a combination of chartreuse and white to be the ticket. Water clarity has been good in the lower bay so having white out there is a good bet. Crippled Alewife spoons have also been a good choice but can often be a scary proposal with so many lines out behind the boat.
The croakers have arrived in the lower bay region and the area outside the Wicomico River on the Potomac have been offering good fishing this week for large croakers. Fishermen are finding them in relatively shallow water and catching them on bloodworms, squid and shrimp. Many of the croakers are reported to be over 20” long and the action is expected to intensify this week with warmer water temperatures. Croakers are also being caught off the Point Lookout Fishing Pier and causeway and prominent points on the western and eastern side of the bay. White perch are moving down the tidal rivers and creeks and should offer some good fishing this week in the lower regions of the tidal waters.
The Fisheries Service is holding a series of public open house forums to discuss blue crab management. The biologists have put together some very interesting information that can be accessed at the following link for anyone interested in crabbing. www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/crab/OpenHouse2009_41609.pdf
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