Fishing Fly Fishing How to Fishing and Fishing Reports at Tidal Fish - SALTWATER FISHING: Susquehanna Spring Fishing Part III
  • SALTWATER FISHING: Susquehanna Spring Fishing Part III

    By Jerry Norris
    Well, it is the middle of May and spring keeps on rolling right along. If you haven't already, please review the <a href="">Susquehanna Spring Fishing Part 1</a> and <a href="">Susquehanna Spring Fishing Part 2</a> articles of this series.

    The shad bite, such as it was this year, has faded. Oh, there may still be an occasional hickory still lingering around and a white shad may turn up now and then but for the most part, shad are done for the year. The white perch are now just about at their peak and will be up in the rocks spawning for a few more days, then in another week or so, the big white perch will have dropped back out of the river and into the bay as well. The days of easy fishing and abundant catches-or as a friend of mine fondly says the “brain dead fishing”-is about over for the year. From now on, anglers will have to work harder for their fish. Not only will the glut of spawning fish move out, but the target species of fish will change as well. Late spring (and summer) fishing is for rockfish, large mouth and small mouth bass, walleye, bait size perch, and of course, the ever present catfish. Since the modified Rockfish season for the flats and the lower river just opened, I will concentrate this article on fishing for rockfish. Unfortunately, Rock fishing is often a hit or miss proposition at this time of year and the best fishing areas are upriver and will not be open until the first of June.

    For the intermediate season, anglers can troll the deeper waters between the Lapidum Landing and Port Deposit. Favored lures for trolling are surgical tubes, rattletraps, broken back Rebels, blade baits, twisters or shads. The best trolling location is the area from the Lapidum ramp to Port Deposit. Those not wishing to troll can drift and jig the same area. Best bets for jigging are blade baits similar to the Silver Buddies, trout bombs, twisters or shads and bucktails. Another option is to anchor up and drift small white perch, chum or chunk. Small white perch can usually be caught on small shad darts near the rocks or grass beds down below the ramp or along the shore line. Since herring are no longer allowed, chunking or chumming with menhaden is the only good option left. Just remember to use circle hooks per the DNR regulations.

    When season opens on the full river, the best results, or at least the most exciting, are often on top water lures in the skinny waters starting from around Spencer Island, up around the old bridge pilings, and continuing up river as far as you dare to run. This is early morning fishing which means getting to the fishing spots at the crack of dawn or earlier. That is no small feat if the gates are shut and not much water is running-it’s hard enough to run those waters at low flow in the light of day when you can see the rocks! Needless to say, if you don’t have a shallow draft wooden or aluminum boat, this fishing is not for you. But don’t despair, lots of anglers do well wade fishing from shore. Either in a boat or wading, the secret is to find the deep pockets with current flow and the areas of current flow between rocks. Cast upstream or across stream and rapidly retrieve your top water lure with a brisk pop. If a rock fish wants your lure, you can’t reel fast enough to take it away from it. Good choices are Atom Poppers, Creek Chubs, Smack-its or whatever you favorite topwater is. There is good fishing from shore on the rocks just above the old mill up through the riffles between the old mill and the mouth of Deer Creek and also from Deer Creek on up to the dam. Some folks do well with float tubes especially on weekends when they tend not to run as much water. They will start below the dam and wade/float downstream and either have someone pick them up at Deer Creek or hoof it back up the trail to their car at the dam.

    One of the most reliable places is called “The Pool.” It is an area of deeper water on the Harford County side about half a mile above the mouth of Deer Creek. If you go to Bing maps, and chose the aerial option, you can see a very distinct area of deeper water between two ledges of rock just above Roberts Island that extends from the Harford County side all the way across the river. That is “The Pool”. As a sobering side note, if you scroll upriver toward the dam, you will see the rocks disappear as the leading edge of rising water advances where they have just opened the gates. This is as good a time as any to put in my standard caution about rising waters. In a boat, watch your anchor, especially the closer to the dam you get. When wading, keep an eye on the rocks and watch upstream for rising water. Often, you can actually hear the water coming well in advance. If you see or hear the water coming up, get back to shore immediately. The bottom is rocky and slick so never get out so far you can’t make it back to shore quickly.

    The top water bite usually dies within about half an hour or less after the sun hits the water. When that happens, you can often switch to stick baits or soft plastic and still pick up a few fish during the rest of the day. Broken back Rebels in blue and chrome and white twister tails or plastic shad type baits are good choices as are Rattletraps. Tony’s in either#13 or #14 are a good bet as well. Shore anglers have a much harder time catching fish during the day than boat anglers but it can still be done.

    When the water comes up, boat anglers can still concentrate on fast water runs and pools behind the rock ledges and boulders and can move more freely both up and down stream casting plugs, drifting small live perch or trolling. Some of the regulars do very well trolling small buck tails up in the rocks when the water is up but they have perfected the technique from years on the river. To troll anywhere above the old bridge piers, you really need to know the water. Downstream from the old mill on the Harford side is a good location to troll. A surgical tube tipped with a piece of bloodworm is a very good choice. You still have to be careful though. I was trolling down through there one day not paying too much attention to the water and trolled smack up on top of a big ol’ rock-no harm done, but a dumb thing to do none the less! One other word of caution, if you are well upstream and they shut the water off, it is a heck of a lot harder to come downstream on low water than it is to go upstream on low water. Lots of regulars have many dents in their boats to prove it. I wound up sitting smack on top of a big flat rock one day when they shut the gates down. It took a lot of pushing and tugging to get off of that one.

    When the sun starts to drop off of the water, then the bite begins to pick up again and fish begin to be active on the surface also. The same basic fishing approach and lures apply in the evening as well.

    The deep channel on the Harford side just off the rocks above the old mill have yielded lots of rock on broken back Rebels or poppers in the evenings at or just after dark. In general, don’t expect to catch any monster fish. Most of them will be from twelve to twenty some inches long, but then … there is always that one fish which seemingly comes out of no where to blast your lure. I still can see the tail on just such a one that I missed on an Atom Popper many years ago while standing on those rocks and casting down toward the old bridge pier. I have now idea how big it really was, but its tail was broader than both my hands put together and the boil looked like a washtub!

    Tight lines to all!
    Where to Fish Map of Susquehanna River

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