Water temperatures in the lower Susquehanna River and Flats area are beginning to touch the 50-degree mark on warm days and fall on cold ones as could be expected. The temperatures have raised enough to the point where fishermen are reporting catching fish on artificial lures; although cut herring remains the number one choice. The water flows from the Conowingo Dam have been fairly constant and holding at average rates for this time of the year. Of course a large rain event in the upper watershed of the Susquehanna could change all that rather quickly so if you have a chance to get up to the catch and release area, now may be better than later. Steve English sent in a report from last week that he and his friends had good luck trolling large crankbaits for some catch and release action at the mouth of the river. Steve holds up one of the fish they caught and released recently while trolling.
Reports from Deer Creek last weekend spoke of the waters running low and clear and a water temperature of 49-degrees. Fishermen are catching a few hickory shad at the mouth of the creek and locations on the Susquehanna River itself. Blueback herring were reported splashing about in the creek at Stafford Bridge over the weekend. So far not much American shad action has been reported up towards the Conowingo Dam but fishermen will be keeping a close watch on that fishery. There are plenty of white perch and channel catfish in the lower river and a number of fishermen are targeting them.
Farther down the bay fishermen are shoreline fishing off prominent points and piers for striped bass by using circle hooks and cut bait or bloodworms. A few big fish and smaller school-sized striped bass are being caught and released at locations such as Sandy Point State Park and the Matapeake Fishing Pier. Fishermen are watching the water temperatures in the lower Baltimore Harbor area; the NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Patapsco is currently showing a water temperature of 48.5-degrees and a salinity of 3 p.p.t. Fishermen are also trolling in the shipping channel above the Bay Bridge and catching and releasing a number of large striped bass that are heading up the bay. Rich Watts mentioned that he was out trolling above the bridge despite the wind with friends this past weekend where they caught and released a 40” striped bass in the first 10-minutes they were trolling.
Mid Bay Region:
Fishermen in the middle bay region continue to head out to the steep edges of the shipping channel on both the western and eastern sides of the bay to practice catch and release fishing for striped bass. Most fishermen are trolling the same set ups that they’ll use on April 19th in the same locations. Umbrella rigs, tandem and plugs at various depths on flat lines and planer boards are generally what fishermen are using. Gannets continue to be spotted in the region diving on schools of menhaden which fishermen are also seeing on their depth finders often at a depth of 15’ to 30’ below the surface. Rebecca McClenahan of Edgewater musters all the strength of a determined 5-year old as she cranks in a striped bass while fishing with her dad about 1-mile north of Buoy 83. Rebecca never faltered on bringing the fish to boat so her dad could release it and never lost grip on that lollipop.
Fishermen also continue to motor over to the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge to try their luck at jigging for striped bass while drifting in the churning current. Soft plastic jigs heavy enough to stay close to the bottom such as BKD’S, Bass Assassin’s and Gulps as well as metal jigs are the usual lures employed. The action there tends to vary from day to day but it keeps those fishermen that would rather use light tackle rather then troll coming back.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
Most of the fishing action in the lower bay region has been focused on catch and release fishing for striped bass out in the shipping channel while trolling. Everyone is using the same gear that they’ll be using for the April 9th opener; which includes planer boards and lines that will go deep. Of course most fishermen are not inclined to put out as many lines as they would when pressed to cover all depths; so most are running a few flat lines and a line or two off the planer boards. Umbrella rigs and tandem rigged parachutes and bucktails all dressed with sassy shads are the most popular rigs but some will be dragging Stretch 25’s or 35’s behind their boats. Most of the fleet has been trolling along the western edge of the shipping channel from Breezy Point south to Cedar Point and Buoy 72 north to Hooper’s Island Light on the eastern side of the shipping channel.
There is still no word about any croakers showing up in any noteworthy numbers yet but reports from the mouth of the bay in Virginia offer positive hope for a good season. There have also been reports of bluefish moving up the coast so we’ll probably see bluefish moving into the bay and if last years blues remember their way back; one would suspect we’ll see even larger bluefish this year in the bay. At present there seems to be a lot of menhaden in the lower and middle regions of the bay and hopefully they’ll be plenty around to make the fishing good this season.