The winter of 2017 may well be remembered as the winter that never was… Warmer than normal temperatures had both men and fish confused. Many fish like Yellow Perch never moved in large numbers to their traditional wintering grounds. Instead, they remained scattered about shallow water with cover and food sources nearby. Large concentrations of bigger fish in their typical places were seldom found. I started looking in very specific areas on micro structures to find consistent catches of Yellow Perch. We experienced many days of excellent winter fishing with very mild air temperatures and pleasant conditions. Dan Kilroy and Lisa Doricchi joined me for a January Perch trip on a beautiful 60 degree day!
This bite held thru most of the month.
Dan Kilroy and I found YP with School size Rockfish in the Sassafras River. Jigging schoolie Stripers with ultra-light spinning gear is big Fun! Gerald Eldreth and I returned to the area a few days later and took this Mongster 14″ Yellow Perch along with some smaller ones and catfish, the Stripers had moved. Scouting trips to other rivers in the area produced a few YP but not the great catching we are used to in colder winters.
As the mild winter continued upper bay water temps were often almost 40 degrees many fish never left the shallow creeks or rivers they were in… Rivers like the Choptank, Tuckahoe and Chester River had decent fishing all winter long. Knowing that the creeks warm much faster than the main bay we targeted fishing during mild stable weather patterns. On warm days the creek temperature rises causing predator fish of all types to awaken. The month of February I spent most of my time creek fishing for Yellow Perch, Crappie, Largemouth Bass and Pickerel. Great Winter fishing was had most days!
Largemouth often fell for our Mepps spinners intended for Pickerel. My regular fish partner is Ange Harclerode. Here he is with a nice one from the Chester River.
As the creek temperatures continued to rise to 45 degrees the Crappie bite became very good! We have been finding them in heavy brush out of the main current flows. Small Plastic baits have been catching well and adding scents like Pro-Cure and Spike-it have been essential to fast catching. I had forgot how much I like Crappie fishing. It has turned into CRAPPIE MADNESS! On several trips I did not even look for YP because I wanted more Crappie. Here is my friend Frank Bonanno with a beauty of a brush pile Crappie.
These fish bite on the slower portions of the moving tide. Placing your lures right in the brush is key to good catching. Crappie fishing can be fast and is very addictive! Sadly it will be over before most people start fishing! The winter months provide some of the best fishing of the year. Here is some more Crappie madness for you…. Enjoy the pics!
The warmer than normal winter also kept many resident Rockfish in the Upper Bay all winter. Bait fish were plentiful all winter as well. With the water warming so quickly, I believe we will have a good early season on the Susquehanna Flats. This is a catch and release fishing and I urge all anglers to be easy on these fish when handling them. The biggest fish of the year will be caught in March by mid-April the largest fish have often left the flats area. If you wait until April to start fishing it may be too late for the best fishing. Every year is different and this year things are happening way early. Herring are already in the creeks. The Big Rock are typically right behind them. Tighten your drags it’s gonna be good!
This week we will be milling around the tackle shop stocking shelves and displaying some “New” products. We will officially open on March 3 rd but if you need something stop and see us we’ll open up and get you fishing quick as we can. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but we have some really good things in store for 2017. Thank You for your continued support and look forward to seeing our regular customers this year. Happy Catching!