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Channel catfish at Hackett’s Bar, carp at the Bay Bridge, snakeheads in St. Jerome’s Creek, and very few stripers in their usual haunts around Kent Island – what’s up with all this late-spring craziness in the Chesapeake Bay?  Most fishermen are blaming salt, or more specifically, a lack thereof.  Very wet weather in the Susquehanna River watershed has meant lots of fresh water entering the Bay.  It’s highly unusual for the Bay to be this fresh in June. Some stations are reporting the lowest readings in recorded history. Salinity is expressed in parts per thousand (ppt), in other words, the number of grams of dissolved salts present in 1,000 grams of water. The water in the Atlantic Ocean is about 35 ppt.  Surface salinity today at the Gooses Reef Buoy in the Mid-Chesapeake Bay is 2.0 ppt. That’s low! For better striped bass fishing, we need more salt.

Fishermen have long recognized the importance of locating comfort zones where fish prefer to stay, but sometimes that isn’t so easy. Fishing in late May and early June is usually a challenge, but low salinity levels have made it especially difficult this year. Complicating the matter is that he water can be a lot saltier on the bottom of the Bay than it is on top this time of year.  Since, in addition to surface observations, The Gooses Reef Buoy also provides salinity readings from the bottom of the Bay, we can see that it’s currently 7.1 ppt.  That’s over three times saltier than it is on the surface.  Read More!