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Capt. Tom Hughes - Light Tackle & Fly Fishing the Susquehanna Flats
RE: Green Works

Susquehanna River
One of the great wonders of the Chesapeake Bay watershed is that you can stand in southern New York state and place a small wooden boat in one of the tributaries of the Susquehanna River and follow it into and through the Chesapeake Bay and then out into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the mid-Atlantic states, it's called the "Mighty Susquehanna." It's the largest river lying entirely within the United States that drains into the Atlantic Ocean and the 16th largest river in the United States. The River's 27,500-square-mile watershed covers parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. This is about 43 percent of the Bay's 64,000 square miles of drainage basin.

You might be standing by Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown, New York, when you put your boat into a stream and watch it float along with the current as water drains off the land and flows downstream. You realize you're about 290 miles from Baltimore, as the crow flies, but the way the streams and river wind their way over the land, your small boat will travel over 400 miles before it arrives at Havre de Grace, MD near the River's mouth.


The information below is written by Capt. Tom Hughes

There are many dams along the Susquehanna River, the last one is approximately 12 miles north of Havre de Grace, MD, and is named Conowingo Dam. The Susquehanna Flats start at Havre de Grace, MD run south 7 miles and ends at Sandy Pt. on the western shore and Turkey Pt. on the eastern shore.

If the Flood Gates open it's because the Susquehanna River has a strong flow. This strong flow is caused by a large amount of ice melting swiftly in PA or a heavy rains in PA. When these Flood Gates open muddy water and debris covers the Susquehanna Flats and the fish will shut off. It it becomes too muddy they will back completely off the flats.

Flood Gates: 0 open......is outstanding.

Generation gates open up to spin the generators to create electricity.

This current cold front has chilled the water 5 degrees less than last week and it will probable take until next Monday until fishing becomes productive. But who really knows...that's fishing.

Putting it all together.

1) RE: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/uv?cb_00060=on&cb_00065=on&format=gif_default&period=8&site_no=01570500

2) Discharge Chart - water movement feet per second

3) RE: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/md/nwis/uv?cb_00060=on&cb_00065=on&format=gif_default&period=8&site_no=01570500

4) Gate Height - in feet

April 2, 2007 the readings at the Conowingo Dam were as follows:

Spill Conditions: (RE: 1-877-457-2525 Spill Condition Hotline)00:30 - 2 flood gates open
Next 8 hours - 2 flood gates open
Operating Under Spill Conditions
Flow = 102,000 Cubic Feet per Second

Generation: (RE: 1-888-457-4076 Generation Hotline)12:00 to 05:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
05:00 to 21:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
21:00 to 24:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
NOTE: This was the last time the Flood Gates have been open to date (4/10/07)

April 3, 2007 the readings at the Conowingo Dam were as follows:

Spill Conditions:
00:30 - 0 flood gates open
Next 8 hours - 0 flood gates open
12:00 to 05:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
05:00 to 21:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
21:00 to 24:00 - 7 Small 4 Large

April 10, 2007 the reading at the Conowingo Dam were as follows:
Spill Conditions:
08:30 - 0 flood gates open
Next 8 hours - 0 flood gates open
24:00 to 05:00 - 4 Small
05:00 to 11:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
11:00 to 17:00 - 4 Small 1 Large
17:00 to 22:00 - 7 Small 4 Large
22:00 to 24:00 - 4 Small

The above information is only one variable to consider when to fish on the Susquehanna Flats, but a very important one.
When the Susquehanna River is high and moving fast the flood gates open at the Conowingo Dam. And like most rivers running high and fast, erosion will occur causing mud and debris will wash down the river.

The hotlines will supply you with date needed to understand the current water conditions of the Susquehanna River. From April 3, 2007 the flood gate have been closed and the water gage at Harrison, PA has been decreasing. Each day, the once muddy water, has been clearing up and of April 9, 2007 (I was guiding on that date) the visibility is 12" to 16".

Start documenting these conditions from year to year and you will gain the knowledge on the best time to start fishing the Susquehanna Flats.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Tom Hughes
Full Time Light Tackle & Fly Fishing Guide
Booking Trips on the Susquehanna Flats


2,622 Posts
Good info. Just remember, the flood gates on the Conowingo Dam are not for flood control (the reservoir itself, even though it looks huge, is not large enough to control significant floods.) It is what is termed as a "run of the river" reservoir, which basically means that whatever is the flow upstream will be the flow downstream. Of course, because it does hold water back for electricity generation, there are some small variations in this. The flood gates are to prevent water from overtopping the dam and causing catastrophic damage to the dam itself (not to mention what would happen downstream if the dam were to fail).

970 Posts
depends what your after and time of year. Right now ok but later in summer you better have at least one going. that river is fun b/c you have to adjust to the conditions and be able to fish what you get. Helps to make you a better fisherman.
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