Fishermen will be seeing improving conditions this week in the lower Susquehanna River and Susquehanna Flats for catch & release fishing for striped bass. Water temperatures are rising and are holding around 52-degrees at the moment. This past Sunday the beautiful weather brought out a lot of fishermen to the region and a number of nice fish were caught and released. Some of the best fishing for those fishermen casting crankbaits and soft plastic jigs continues to be in the lower river around the Railroad Bridge and Garrett Island. Fishermen on the flats are casting to fish and catching them but many more are just anchored up and fishing cut baits on circle hooks. These bait fishermen are also catching channel catfish which they can of course keep and that is not a bad option since they are so tasty with a batch of hush puppies. Jonathan Harris is assisted by his friend Phil Bull with this 54lb striped bass in the lower Susquehanna River.
White perch are also holding in the Susquehanna River and fishermen are catching loads of them on small jigs tipped with grass shrimp or bloodworms in some of the deeper holes. The catch and release fishing for hickory shad is improving in the river; especially when the tide is falling or there is a water release at the dam. Deer Creek is still running low and it will be another week or so until the run of hickory shad there begins in earnest. The lack of rainfall has had an obvious effect on the amount of water flowing out of area creeks and the Conowingo Dam itself.
A few fishermen have been trolling the channel edges in the upper bay with limited results. Most have been trolling along the steepest edges of the shipping channel they can find. Shoreline fishermen with sturdy surf casting outfits have been fishing bloodworms on circle hooks at a number of fishing piers, docks and prominent points. Sandy Point State Park is one of the most accessible and popular spots to fish; especially on April 18th. Mark Adams gingerly holds a nice striped bass before quickly getting it back into the bay.
Mid/Lower Bay Regions
Mixed weather conditions this week will have fishermen picking their days if they choose to venture out into the bay. No doubt there will be plenty of fishermen gearing up for the upcoming holiday weekend to go out and do some more catch and release fishing for striped bass. The advent of planer boards into the mix has certainly changed the playing field for fish and fishermen alike. The ability to cover a 200’ to 500’ wide swath while trolling an array of 20 to 30 fishing lines with up to two lures per line has really changed everything in regards to trolling for large striped bass. The concept of catching and releasing dozens of fish in an outing or even a dozen at a time is something most of us would not have imagined a few years ago. The shear numbers of fishermen that are catching and releasing these large fish should cause us all to pause for a moment. Let us not lose sight of the resource in all of this catch and release fun. These large pre-spawn striped bass are in a vulnerable situation when it comes to stress and the future generations of striped bass that they carry in their bellies should always be the first and foremost importance to us all. Ethical fishermen should be ready with tools such as pliers at hand, mashed down barbs on those parachutes and bucktails and try to release the fish in the water. If the fish has to come in the boat; invest in a soft rubber mesh catch and release landing net and support those fish when taking a picture and hurry it up. Stinger hooks should not be used and consider throttling down the RPM’s on the engine so large fish can be brought to the boat faster to reduce stress. It is difficult enough to reel in all the hardware that is being dragged behind the boat to entice a strike; try and make it an easier and faster task getting a large fish to boat.
The first spawning of striped bass started this past Saturday on the Nanticoke and Choptank Rivers; the smell of spawn was unmistakable for those who are familiar with such things. The optimum water temperature for striped bass spawning is 64.5-degrees but can start as low as 52-degrees. Current water temperatures in the spawning reaches of the Nanticoke and Choptank are approaching the mid 50’s.
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