Fishermen are still enjoying good catch and release fishing in the Susquehanna Flats area although striped bass have been reported to be spawning in the Elk River over the weekend. As most fishermen know the Susquehanna area spawning population of striped bass are some of the later fish to spawn as compared to tidal rivers such as the Choptank or Nanticoke; so when fish are spawning in the Elk it can be not so good news for fishing on the Flats but exciting news for trolling in the upper bay region that is open for the spring season. Fishermen have been using a variety of lures in the catch and release fishery such as spoons, crankbaits, jerkbaits and of course soft plastic jigs with good success. Rob Stewart of Newark, Delaware holds up a real whopper for the camera before slipping it back into the water.
Fishermen have been catching quite a few white perch and channel catfish in the Susquehanna as water conditions continue to be good despite Sunday’s rain showers. A few American shad have been reported below the Conowingo Dam but it’s still a little early for this fishery. Yesterday’s reports from Deer Creek spoke of muddy water flowing down the creek from recent rains; so it will take a few days for the water to clear up and fishing for hickory shad to improve. Steve English sent in this report from the Susquehanna River for us. The Shad fishing in the Susquehanna River has been quite good. We have been getting multiple catches of Hickory Shad. We have not seen any American Shad to date. This week the river temperature is 58- degrees, and the clarity of the river has been good. The water levels are much lower this week, making it hard for shore fisherman to reach out to the area where fish are moving through. Calling the Conowingo Dam and getting gate opening information is advisable and time fishing during higher water releases, which bring the fish closer to shore for wading fisherman.
The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Patapsco River is currently showing a water temperature just above 57-degrees. Fishermen were out trolling the depths of the shipping channel in the upper bay region below the Brewerton Channel looking for post-spawn striped bass heading down the bay. Most anglers reported sparse catches that could best be described as a slow pick; a nice fish now and then with no real pattern to why or where. The only common report from successful fishermen was that most fish that they did catch came off the planer boards. Based on the reports of a large spawn taking place in the Elk River late last week, fishermen should see those post-spawn striped bass moving through the upper bay region this week and through the weekend.
Shore based fishermen could be found this weekend on their favorite piece of turf casting out bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or cut bait in hopes of catching a keeper-sized striped bass below the Brewerton Channel. The Matapeake Fishing Pier and the beach point at Sandy Point State Park are a couple of the numerous places fishermen favor and for good reasons. Jenny Keller holds up a really nice fish that she was able to catch and take home that was caught at Sandy Point State Park on Saturday.
Mid Bay Region:
Fishermen were out in force for the Saturday opener of the Spring Striped Bass Season; the weather was beautiful, no wind and good fishing made for an opening day that was about as perfect as it could be. This time of the year when the surface waters are the warmest and migrating striped bass tend to travel near the surface in that warmer water; it comes as no surprise to knowledgeable fishermen that planer boards are a very useful tool. The planer boards of course get the lures which are trolled close to the surface away from the engine noise of the boat. One can imagine that overall boat traffic was at its least at daybreak and in many locations that was when the best fishing occurred. A number of captains reported being limited out by 7:00 am and on their way to the dock. As the day wore on the fishing success tended to decline into a pick and when the wind came up towards the end of the day the fishing shut down. The weather of course only became worse on Sunday when thunderstorms moved through the region. Chris Keagy holds up his first spring striped bass with his dad on opening day.
The weather has calmed down now and the forecast is excellent through the week. More striped bass will be migrating out of the rivers and will offer increased fishing opportunities. The spawn that occurred on the Elk River should reach the middle bay region by the weekend if one figures that the fish are moving south at least 5-miles a day and there will be more fish moving out of the Choptank River this week. Some of the hot spots reported on Saturday were the Thomas Point side of the shipping channel and the eastern edge from Buoy 83 Gum Thickets area south to Buoy 84. Chesapeake Beach south to Cove Point and particularly the Breezy Point area was good and the CP Buoy off Taylor’s Island was good. Fishermen reported that the big spawning group from April 12th on the upper Choptank hit the mouth of the Choptank on Thursday and unfortunately were south into the lower bay by Saturday.
Lower Bay/Tangier Sound Region:
For many veteran fishermen the word that the “early bird got the worm” came as no surprise as the opening day armada spread out across the lower bay region. Engine noise and boat traffic will put big fish down or turn them off to feeding. Catch and Release fishermen that were out the week before did not see these kind of problems with boat traffic so it’s time to adjust and get away from the dock earlier than the masses. If you find yourself in a knot of boats try to get away by yourself and although you might not be in the most ideal location you may very well find fish cruising near the surface. Some of the better catches reported came from the channel edge around Hooper’s Island Light, Buoy 72 south, Cove Point to Cedar Point and the channel edges in the mouth of the Potomac. Parachutes and bucktails dressed with sassy shads trolled in tandem or behind umbrella rigs were the ticket as well as large spoons such as the #21 Tony.
The NOAA Buoy at the mouth of the Potomac River is currently showing a water temperature of about 57-degrees. Bait and Tackle stores have been a buzz this past week as the first big group of croakers has moved into the lower bay area. Good croaker fishing is reported up the Potomac around the mouth of the Wicomico River and boat and shore based fishermen have been enjoying the action. Shrimp, squid and of course bloodworms are the preferred baits. The croakers are also being caught near the Point Lookout Fishing Pier along with white perch. Fishermen are also finding croakers near the mouth of the Honga River south to the Pocomoke Sound.