susquehanna flats

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“I only write when I’m inspired,” wrote William Faulkner. I’d find that statement comforting if he hadn’t followed it with, “and I’m inspired every morning at 9:00 AM.” Lately, my every-morning-at-9:00 AM-ritual hasn’t included much writing. Oh, I’ve had plenty to write about, it’s just that I’ve overcommitted myself (again) so that every spare waking minute seems filled with obligation. When I have some spare time, I usually go fishing. Since I bet you’d much rather hear about the fishing than the excuses, I’ll dive right in.

If the paragraph above sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a re-run from an article I posted here on ChesapeakeLightTackle.com in April two years ago. I guess what goes around always comes back, and once again I’m struggling to keep too many plates spinning in the air. I sometimes have to scale down, tune out, and just fish. If I haven’t returned an email or phone call recently, I apologize. The good news is that things are starting to settle down and I’ve found a few minutes for a fishing report and a word or two of advice.

I bet you’re aware that the rockfish catch and kill season opens this Saturday in Maryland. While I enjoy seeing people get excited about fishing, I always dread the start of the kill season. Opening Day doesn’t mean much to fishermen who are in it for the simple joy of fishing. Most of us have been catching and releasing fish all winter. We fish because we love the sport, not because it puts meat on the table. I like to eat fish too, but you won’t see me keeping any big stripers this trophy season. Read More!


It’s spring in the Chesapeake Bay and time for big migratory stripers. Some of the biggest striped bass in the world are caught in Maryland in the early spring. A few fishermen are already using circle hooks to catch & release big fish in the rivers using bait such as frozen herring, bloodworms, and cut menhaden. Circle hooks aren’t just a good idea for bait fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, they’re required by law during the early spring. Maryland fishermen have been slow to see the advantages of circle hooks. I think that’s because most of us haven’t used them enough, but there’s also confusion about what circle hooks are and how they work. I had an opportunity to travel to Providence, Rhode Island a few days ago to attend a FishSmart conference sponsored by NOAA about catch & release techniques. I came away with some interesting information. Read More!


“I only write when I’m inspired,” wrote William Faulkner.  I’d find that statement comforting if he hadn’t followed it with, “and I’m inspired every morning at 9:00 AM.”  Lately, my every-morning-at-9:00 AM-ritual hasn’t included much writing. Oh, I’ve had plenty to write about, it’s just that I’ve over-committed myself (again) so that every spare waking minute seems filled with obligation. When I have a spare hour, I usually go fishing. Since I bet you’d much rather hear about the fishing than the excuses, I’ll dive right in.

There’s nothing more inspiring than a big fish. That’s Uncle Phill Anderson in the cover shot holding up a nice light-tackle fish he jigged up on a recent foggy morning in the mid-Bay.  (Shhh, don’t tell the meat-fleet we’re picking off fish of this class with light tackle. It might catch on!) When I left off a month ago, I was smack in the middle of a series about strike triggers.  I’m discussing why striped bass attack a lure, and how they are attracted to their prey. As previously mentioned, almost any lure or technique will work on hunger-feeding fish. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or resources to always go fishing at the places where hungry fish are most abundant. We have to fish in the limited time we have available, and usually very close to home. While we may occasionally encounter groups of ravenous fish, most of the stripers in our neighborhoods are pretty hard to catch. In order to be consistently successful, we have to provoke strikes from fish that may not be inclined to bite by appealing to their five senses.  I’ve written about sight, sound, and feel. This entry completes the strike triggers series with a look at smell and taste. Read More!


Ring perch, that’s what my fishing buddy Rich calls them, but considering the impact they’re having on the economy of the upper Chesapeake Bay, they might as well be called gold fish. If ever there was a Chesapeake fisheries management success story it’s what we are experiencing right now with yellow perch. As fishermen pour in from all over, posting one successful fishing report after another, it’s obvious that Maryland can proudly boast one of the best perch fisheries in the United States. I don’t know about you, but I consider that one heck of an accomplishment, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should be proud.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t always this way.  For the past couple of decades yellow perch fishing has been a shadow of what it could be.  As of 2005 there were few limits on the commercial harvest of yellow perch.  Netters could set their traps almost wherever and whenever they wanted taking as many fish as they could catch.  Almost all our Maryland fish were sold outside the state.  The only benefit to our economy was in lining the pockets of a few commercial fishermen. In 2008, that all changed. Read More!


The water was a silent mirror, perfectly reflecting the glittering blush of light in the twilight sky over Elk Neck State Forest. Creig idled my Judge 27CC “Thunder Road” across the glass.  He stopped just short of the up-current side of a shallow underwater trench. I fashioned a rapala knot out of thirty-pound fluorocarbon leader and tied on my favorite top-water plug, a silver and orange off-brand spook that I picked out of a junk box at the Pasadena Fishing Flea Market.  As Creig shut off the engine, I grabbed my spinning outfit, stepped up on the bow, flipped over the bale spring and waited for our drift to slow.  The line felt electric beneath my index finger as I held it tightly against the cork handle and raised my rod tip in anticipation of what would surely be the perfect cast. It was top-water time on the Susquehanna Flats. Read More!