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Catch and Release “Crown Jewel” of Sport Fishing Opens Two Weeks Early Susquehanna Flats Catch and Release striped bass season starts today; circle hooks will be required when using bait for striped bass
ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service today officially opened the Susquehanna Flats Catch and Release season. The season was moved up because cold-water temperatures on the Flats result in nearly 100 percent survivorship of released striped bass. The earlier start date means that Maryland’s Sport Fishermen won’t have to wait until mid-March for the opening of what has become the “crown jewel” of catch and release sport fishing opportunities on the East Coast.
In addition to the earlier start date, DNR has instituted another change for the Susquehanna Flats striped bass catch and release fishery. Anglers that are fishing with bait with larger hooks will be required to use non-offset circle hooks. Bait hooks with a gap greater than 1/2 inch (measured from the tip of the hook to the shank) are required by regulation to be non-offset circle hooks. Bait hooks with a gap less than 1/2 inch may be a standard J hook.
Non-offset circle hooks are hooks that are circular, with the barb pointed back to the shank of the hook. When viewed from barb to shank, the barb is in line with the shank. Non-offset circle hooks dramatically reduce the incidence of deep hooking. Deep hooking injuries to vital organs are the leading cause of death in caught-and-released striped bass. Non-offset circle hooks allow for the fish to be caught without causing it physical injury, making it is easier to separate the fish from the hook and release it back into the water.
Although the vast majority of striped bass in the Flats fishery are caught on artificial lures, this new requirement will reduce any limited mortality associated with the use of bait.
“The Fisheries Service is continually balancing its responsibility to practice sound fisheries management with the need to provide the best possible fishing opportunities for Maryland’s anglers,” said Howard King, Director of DNR’s Fisheries Service. “The Susquehanna Flats is the perfect example of a fishery where we’ve succeeded at both.”
The shallow waters of the Susquehanna Flats provide an experience unlike any other in the mid-Atlantic region where these vigorous fish can make awesome runs similar to those of the bonefish in tropical flats. Since its opening in 1999, anglers have traveled from all over the United States and North America to experience this unique fishery. Fly fishermen have their best success on a variety of patterns of clouser minnows, while spin fishermen prefer bass assassins, bucktails and other single hook artificial lures. This is primarily a boat fishery, as these stripers tend to congregate in open waters away from shore.
The majority of striped bass caught on the Flats are young male fish in the 16 to 24 class, but some fish are caught in excess of 40 inches and up to 50 pounds. When water on the Flats is clear and conditions are optimal, anglers can experience catches in excess of 100 fish in a day. The season runs through May 3.
For the most up-to-date information on fishing in Maryland, visit the Fishing Report on DNR Online, http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishingreport/
March 1, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov