I put the carp flies on the shelf last week and headed for Havre De Grace, MD for a different kind of flats experience. A Baltimore based fishing buddy and I had been attempting to get a good trip to the Susquehanna Flats for over a year. The weather had proved to be our nemesis - but finally the stars aligned.
If you haven't heard of the striped bass fishery at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, and the top of the Chesapeake Bay, you are not alone. The fishery is gaining notoriety quickly, however; as steady supplies of stripers, or rockfish as they are locally known, and a special catch and release season on the flats, combine for an amazing opportunity.
Stripers have a fascinating life history and migratory route. Most will winter off the coast of the Carolinas and follow the coast north, up through the coast of northern Maine, through the summer months, to stay on the feed and in their comfort range of 55-68 degrees. Perhaps the most important stop on the way is the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries where the fish gather to spawn and put on the feedbag.
The Susquehanna Flats, around about the month of April, offer one of the best chances to get up close and personal with these great fish, using light spinning tackle and fly rods.
Capt. Jeff Lewatowski was our guide of choice. Jeff is a great fisherman with tremendous range. He has fished a lot of water, including a stint guiding in Alaska, but now plies his native Maryland waters professionally, chasing everything from fly-rod trout in the Gunpowder River to flounder, tautog, sea bass, and stripers in the salt, near Ocean City, MD. Whatever he is fishing for, he likes light tackle and fly rods.
|Capt. Jeff, in the foreground, knows the flats like the back of his hand.|
In fact Jeff's only flaw seemed to be his skepticism for carp on the fly.
Spoken like a fellow who never tried it.
|This one put a nice bend in the 8-wt.|
|Finished up with the best of the day|
We weren't able to lure the biggest fish into striking that day - fish in the 35-45 inch (16 - 40 lb.) class are not uncommon - but after fighting a couple 10-12 pounders, I can hardly imagine a 40 pounder on the fly or, on the perfect day, on a popper.
OK...I can imagine it...and I want it bad.
|Capt. Jeff's 23 ft. Parker was a very nice fishing platform. Ryan works the drift.|
On a Carpy note, Capt. Jeff did happen to mention that his boat brought in a 30 lb. carp on a jig earlier in the season. He then sent me the picture below. I think I feel another outing coming on later in the season.
|Susquehanna Flats Carp|