Fishermen in the lower Susquehanna River are catching and releasing hickory shad by the score this week and the action is due to become even more intense as the week progresses and the shad start to enter Deer Creek. The best fishing right now in the river itself around Lapidum and up around the Robert’s Island and small spoons has been the best choice for lures. Jay Fleming holds up a fine looking hickory shad caught near Spencer Island before releasing it back into the Susquehanna.
Catch and Release fishing for striped bass in the Susquehanna area has slowed down this week due to cool weather, rain and wind; water temperatures have taken a nose dive and some amount of muddy water is expected in the region today. How much runoff occurs is yet to be seen but it should not be too bad and with warm and sunny weather due on Thursday and into the weekend, fishing should greatly improve. Fishermen will be using a variety of lures now including soft plastic jigs such as Bass Assassins, large crankbaits and jerkbaits as well as surface lures. During times of discolored water some fishermen will revert to fresh cut herring and circle hooks.
Fishermen looking forward to trolling for striped bass below the Brewerton Channel line on Saturday April 18th will be trolling large parachutes and bucktails off of planer boards or far behind the boat on a flat line often called by our own Bill Burton as the “Lone Ranger”. Every fisherman will usually try a variety of colors in their lures and it usually comes down to white or chartreuse or a combination of the two. Water temperatures in the upper bay are still in the low 50’s so most fish will be cruising close to the warmer surface water. The striped bass in the upper bay have not exhibited a lot of spawning activity lately so post-spawn fish may be hard to come by. Steep channel edges of the shipping channel and the Dumping Grounds will be popular “Go To” places for those trolling above the Bay Bridge.
Sandy Point state Park will be a buzz this weekend as fishermen launch their boats from the popular launch ramps there but also because of the shoreline fishing opportunities there. Fishermen will be casting surf fishing outfits with bottom rigs and circle hooks baited with bloodworms for a chance at a big striped bass cruising by. The Matapeake Fishing Pier will be another popular site as well as private docks and piers along the shorelines.
Mid/Lower Bay Regions
This is the big weekend for fishermen in these two regions since they will have the best chance at catching post-spawn striped bass come opening day of the spring trophy season. The first good spawn on the Patuxent, Choptank, Nanticoke and Potomac Rivers has occurred over late last week and really hit tempo on Sunday. These fish should be exiting those rivers by the weekend offering fishermen a good chance at a post-spawn striped bass.
There have been good reports of bait in the regions in the form of menhaden and gannets continue to be spotted diving into these schools of bait. Water conditions will most likely dictate color preferences; so far runoff does not look like it will be a big problem with discoloring bay waters in the middle and lower bay regions. If in doubt be sure to check the satellite image link at the bottom of the overview page. http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/NASAimagery/EyesInTheSky.cfm
Many fishermen have been mixing chartreuse and white together in their parachute or bucktail presentations and mixing in Crystal Flash or Mylar foil has also become popular recently. Most likely the bulk of the fish caught will come off planer boards and of course it is going to be crowded out there so be careful and kind. The early morning will no doubt offer the best chances at catching the fish cruising close to the surface and an excessive number of boats may cause them to develop lockjaw. It will be hard to voluntarily wait till later on in the day when there is so much anticipation in the air but if elbow room and better fishing is what you crave a late afternoon trip might be a good option. Also if you have an interest with going with the pros; it can be very economical if you get a group together and many charter boats are doing two trips a day and can reach you by cell phone when they are returning to the dock. Quite often the first group out may be done in a couple of hours so you might not have to wait till the afternoon to go fishing.
The steeper edges of the shipping channel will be the place to be and the traditional haunts will certainly earn their reputation as they always have. The east side of the shipping channel near Buoys 68 up past 70, 72, 72B up to 76 then from the CP Buoy up past Bloody Point Light are all traditional favorites. The Thomas Point area and south of Chesapeake Beach to Cedar Point should also hold a lot of fish. Think of these areas as a version of Interstate 95 for large striped bass that are trying to get from point A to point B. The same can be said for the lower Potomac around Piney Point to the mouth of the river.
Shoreline fishermen at locations such as Point Lookout and the bay side of the Naval Air Station will have good fishing opportunities from land for big striped bass. The first croakers were reported this weekend at the causeway area of Point Lookout and near the mouth of the Wicomico River off the Potomac. The first croakers to arrive are usually the largest so this is a very good opportunity for shore based anglers this week; bloodworms and squid are the usual favorite offering. Some of the deeper and more prominent points on the eastern side of the bay should also start to see croakers this weekend.
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