Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 16

April 18-24, 2002

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Fishing Fiends Inhabit a Small World

I got the call late in the evening: Could I rearrange my schedule to take a fly-shop owner and his friend fly fishing on the Susquehanna Flats for a half-day trip? Let’s see, a tough one: meetings, sitting at a desk or fishing? Eventually I came up with the right answer.

Once my boat cleared the bulkhead and entered the river near the railroad bridge in Havre de Grace, the fish gods smiled upon us, reaffirming my choice. Whirling gulls marked bait for a scene I’m familiar with in the fall, but not at this time of the year and not in this area. It proved again that the main rule of fishing is sometimes the rules don’t apply.

Dimples gave away the presence of rockfish chasing herring and shad, which were making their way up the Susquehanna River to spawn. The tide was running pretty hard, but it was still a little quirky that day, a precursor to the following days when the tide never really got going and made finding the fish — and, once you did, drifting over them — all that more difficult. The fish also suffered from lockjaw, adding to the frustration.

It just reinforces the axiom that when the fish are active, you’ve got to capitalize. On this day, the conditions were good, and Peter Jenkins — whose passion for fly fishing compelled him to buy The Saltwater Edge fly shop in Newport, Rhode Island, to feed his angling jones — took advantage. He tossed chartreuse and white Half’n’Halfs into the slick created by feeding stripers and was rewarded with many fish with bellies fat from gorging bait. We never found the behemoth rockfish, but all of ours were healthy-looking fish in the four- to eight-pound range. To see robust wild fish after many weeks of depressing fisheries news offered solace.

Conversation revealed that we were both products of Washington College and its lacrosse program, Peter distinguishing himself as team captain and All-America in 1982. I guess it goes to show that sometimes you can’t help but replace one passion for another. It’s a fair trade in my book.

The Fish Are Biting
In the sweet water of Western Maryland, rain created less than ideal fishing conditions for the opening day of trout season. But DNR reports that anglers fishing Beaver Creek in Washington County caught some nice rainbow trout.

The American (also called white) shad and white perch spawning runs are on in the Chesapeake tributaries, among them the Potomac and James rivers. With the June-like weather, the action will predictably heat up. Such traditional hot spots as Deer Creek, Potomac River and Tuckahoe, and even in a couple rivers that you wouldn’t think (you’ll have to do your own scouting for that one) are producing good numbers of hickory shad.

When the water is clear, fishing on the Susquehanna Flats has been pretty good. But lack of breeze, neap moon and quirky tides make fishing challenging.

Many of the rockfish might have already spawned. Catch-and-release scouting trips south of the Brewerton Channel boundary line have produced nice stripers that took trolled Stretch Manns and big spoons, as well as bucktails.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly