Thursday, May 3, 2012

Susquehanna Flats

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All the reports on the hot fishing up in the Susquehanna flats had me wanting to try it out.  I have never fished the flats before, and I have never targeted stripers from my kayak before.  I had to give it a shot!  May 3 was the last day before the Catch & Release season ends for stripers in the Susquehanna, so I took the day off work and went to the Flats.

I arrived at Tydings Memorial Park in Havre de Grace, MD around 3:00PM, where I bumped into Cliff from the MKF forum.  He was just coming in from fishing for the day, and he had also been fishing the flats everyday for the past week or so.  He had some pointers to share, so I was all ears.  Use a long crankbait with silver and blue on it.  He was sharing how he caught several fish around 30", and lost his lure on a fish that almost spooled him.  After losing his crankbait - the only one he had of that color combo and style - he didn't get another hit the rest of his time out  there.  Well, I didn't have any crankbaits with blue on them, but I did have a long crankbait that I rigged up on one of my rods last night. It was silver and black, but close enough, I thought.

The marina by the boat ramp.

When I launched, I tried going straight out into the flats from the boat ramp, but quickly found myself in very shallow water (< 1') that I almost got stuck in.  I reversed outta there, and saw that the bigger boats were going through the marina out the entrance to enter the flats.  I followed them out, and when I got a look at the flats,  I thought to myself "so much water, where do I start?"  I could see that there were about 15-20 boats in an area south of where I was, so that was where I headed.  It was kind of unnerving paddling out into the open water for the first time.  But the other boaters were courteous the entire day, and I never felt unsafe in my kayak.

All the boaters...I need a better camera.

When I got near the other boats, I saw that there were a lot of people hooking up around me.  Every couple seconds you would hear someone's drag letting out line because of a fish.  I quickly brought in my crankbait that I had trolled the whole way out, and cast it out to retrieve it manually.  Within the first couple of minutes I hooked up with a nice 20" rockfish. He flopped out of my boat before I could snap a picture, so I don't have proof of that catch... A couple casts later, I hooked into another one that was a little bigger than the first one, but he spit the hook next to the boat.  Rats!

Lots of fish!

The first 30-40 minutes was probably the most exciting...the fishing slowed down a lot after that. I could tell that the fish were around, because they were surfacing everywhere and I could see them on my fish finder.  They just were not taking any of my lures - crankbaits, BKDs, bass assasins, etc.  Well, that's not entirely true, I was biased toward the crankbait because of what Cliff told me, and I caught a couple small stripers here and there on it.

One of the smaller stripers.

Around 7:00PM, my line snapped on a cast and I lost my lucky crankbait. I didn't have any more crankbaits in that style, and the sun was starting to set, so I headed in.  By the end of the night, I caught maybe 4 or 5 stipers, and lost about 8.  The treble hooks on my crankbait were mashed down, so I think I was having a hard time keeping the fish on the hooks.

Fishing the Susquehanna flats was a neat experience.  It was fun fishing among all the gas boats out there, and keeping up with them (most of them - there were a few anglers who were doing really well compared to the rest of us).  It was also neat to see the various techniques that people were using to catch the striped bass - cranking crankbaits, trolling crankbaits, soft plastics, fly fishing from a boat... I have already marked my calendar for fishing the "Susky Flats" again next spring, the last week of April.

I love kayak fishing...

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