Alright guys and girls, I am happy to report it is getting down to crunch time which means a few more days and Striper season will be in full effect for 2016! As exciting as it is, we have already had an extremely eventful spring thus far. From the yellow perch run being phenomenal to white perch and a hickory shad run that has been out of this world the pre-season catch and release season on stripers has been absolutely awesome. From warm water discharges to the Susquehanna flats it has been one heck of a spring for anglers yielding untold amounts of 40 and even 50” and up fish on the jig and light tackle. 10” BKDs and 1.5 ounce heads have been the classic for these discharges and been very successful as the water temperature slowly climbs and as the striper spawn cycle continues we will continue to see less and less big fish holding on these spots. The Susquehanna is still in full effect on weed less rigged plastics and larger stick baits however from the reports I’ve been getting from anglers its very hit or miss and will likely continue to be that way over the next 2-3 weeks until most of these big fish have spawned. As far as a bay temperature goes, as of yesterday along Bloody Point it was 49.8 degrees and will hopefully be the lowest temperature we will see over the next week barring weather conditions.
What that will mean for anglers is a lot of bait marked towards the bottom as that will be where the most dissolved oxygen will lay in the saltwater which isn’t terrible for trophy stripers, it just means until the true turnover and a warm stretch we will not be seeing as much bait up on the channel edges which can be a blessing and a curse. The other thing it means is that winter jellies WILL have a presence in the bay until we can get a warmer stretch of weather that would bring that water up into the high 50’s. so what does that tell you about your board rods. Well, you are either going to want to check them from time to ensure no jellies have made their way to your parachutes or run tsunami shads and spoons which have a tendency of getting less “jelly crap” on them while trolling thus keeping lines clean and maximizing your presentation when you drag it in front of a 40+ inch cow. Now, it is spring time so do away with your 6” shads.
Primary food sources for stripers this time of year are herring, shad, and bunker so the more you can mimic that the better. 9 and even 12” shads are not too far out of the ordinary for trophy season up until the end of May on a cold spring. As far as colors go, the old chartreuse and white is a hard one to beat. Contrasting black back and purple and John Deere green are all great colors but even I myself find myself reverting back to the old white umbrella 8 bars back most days simply from the success it has brought over the years. Now most of these fish are going to be in the upper part of the water column over depths of 30-100’ where it warms and cools quicker and even if you enter an area that is a half degree warmer than a mile down that could be holding not only more fish but fish looking to eat a quick meal so regardless if you find warm water do a loop, work it, use your electronics, and try to gather as much intel as you can before moving back to that water that is half a degree cooler. One thing not a whole lot of people touch on is scent in the springtime and I have seen it make a big deal as noted when a good friend of mine called me today who out caught every other rod on the boat trolling parachutes with Berkley gulp 8” white curly tails. Though it may not seem like much, on those days where nothing else is working and you can’t figure out why, do yourself a favor and try adding some sort of scent regimen to your baits.
As far as what these fish are going to do over the next week or two it is tough to say. Most likely, they will “disappear” for a period of 3 to 5 days and be hard to come by in the main areas we troll and will be up the rivers spawning while previous waves will roll out and so forth until they stage up to feed and move back down the bay. I would say your primary areas to work would be the old favorites, Bloody Point, Hacketts, Thomas, Podickory, Love, and all main transition spawning points. One thing I haven’t touched on is chumming for those who don’t feel like putting around with the crowd and that is a very feasible thing to do in the springtime. However, true chumming is not necessarily needed. If it were me, I would probably set up on an outgoing tide at the mouth of the Severn or Magothy by Hackett’s or Podickory in about 25-30’ of water and chunk whole peanut bunker or cuts of 12” bunker on a fish finder rig with a 6/0 circle hook and/or a float rig suspending a few baits in the back of the spread and wait out the tide to try and get a cow to scavenge up a piece of bunker on the way up or out from spawn. As far as another light tackle bite, the shallows are still going to be a productive place to fish though fishing will generally be a whole lot slower. Thomas point light, the sewer pipe, and hard bottom around sharps island would be a great place to throw a BKD with light heads to try and catch some fish on the jig.
Onto a horse of a different color, the shad bite this year has been unbelievably good down at Fletchers Boat House in D.C. the Potomac, Patuxent, and most rivers on the eastern shore have been holding plenty of hickory shad and a lot of BIG hickories up to 3 and 4 pounds which is a heck of a fight on ultralight tackle. The old shad darts and Nungesser spoon tandem is always a good go to favorite as well as straight shad darts. Bright colors are generally go to lures to get a reaction bite out of these fish as they mainly feed on organisms much smaller than we can present. Deer creek as of today is heating up from several anglers I’ve talked to reporting much of the same, chartreuse darts in 1/8 to ¼ ounce and/or a silver or gold Nungesser spoon.
The white perch run may as well be over up in the creeks except for the most part there are still plenty of 9” fish hanging around waiting for god knows what but the other day I’d gone down to an eastern shore river in hopes of catching shad and ended up with a stringer of 9-11” white perch and yellows mixed which I did not expect to come out of there with. Long story short, just because the spawn is over doesn’t mean catching is at all. 1” minnows tipped on a tandem dart rig jigging 4-5’ holes in the Tuckahoe, Chop Tank, Chester, and so forth are still producing fish.
Well, that’s all I have for you this week guys, in the meantime and as usual stay safe, tight lines, and tear ‘em up opening day.