by Tackle Cove
We all know the old saw that if you don’t like the weather in Maryland, just wait a few hours; chances are it’ll change. And the same may be said of the fishing, especially in the Spring. As we keep an eye toward the April 16th Rockfish Opener, anglers are already boning up on their catch-and-release techniques from the Power Plant to the twin spans of the Bay Bridges, primarily jigging and trolling.
And while it might not hold the cache it did in the early to mid 2000’s—almost entirely because the fishing has tailed off—the Susquehanna Flats “Catch & Release” season still can be a great place to hook into a trophy Striper in very skinny water, without killing a big breeder.
Arguably the two keys to a successful Flats season are good water clarity and optimal water temperature, the latter of which is about 54F-60F. Already, several guides and local sharpies have shared the welcomed news that some Rockfish have shown up on the Flats, though these are males, under 35 inches.
Though you don’t have to limit yourself to just a few types of lures, of course, you’d do well to use those that mimic the herring and shads pulsing up the Bay headwaters to spawn. Flats Stripers target those forage, e.g. “match the bait.”
Here are some suggestions:
1) soft plastics (BKDs, Hogys, BAs) in 6” to 10” range, on 1/2-oz. to 1.5-oz. jigheads.
2) Floating or swimming plugs (Yo Zuris, Stillwater Smack-its, Rapalas, MirroLures, etc.,). Because the bite can be in shallow (3’-7’) or deeper areas (10’-20’) at different times of the day, be prepared to move and use appropriate size and color (bone, albino, chartreuse) lures. Now halfway through its second decade, the Susky Flats may have lost some of its shine in the past few years due to lack of Rockfish, but still draws scores of light tackle and fly fishing devotees mainly because of the chance to watch a big Rockfish maul a topwater lure.
Below are some basic rules but make sure you visit Maryland DNR Fisheries page for the map of the Susky Flats C&R boundaries as well as complete regulations.
• C&R Season: March 1 through the 3rd Friday in April.
• Bait Hooks: Only Circle hooks; or only “J” hooks with a gap of less than 1/2 inch between the point and the shank;
• NO stinger hooks; and only BARBLESS hooks while trolling.
• ONLY six lines, regardless of the number of people on board a vessel, may be used for recreational angling from a boat when trolling
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