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Sportsman's Connection /
Outdoor Talk Network
Fishing the Susquehanna Flats and the Upper Chessie…
I don’t write very many where-to how-to columns. I have an agreement with your newspaper not to overlap with the coverage provided by your local writer. As a syndicated columnist I must focus on the issues and politics that effect our rights to hunt and fish. I lean toward the great people and organizations that fight for us and those that fight against us. From my prospective insuring that we have clean water, the right to own firearms and the pursuit of sensible game and fish management is far more important than if I caught a five pounder. That is just my opinion and I must live within the limits set for this column.
However, I am going to break from tradition and feature an area and methods that I hope will not compete with your local coverage. This area is out of PA, but just barely. It is one of the greatest fishbowls on this planet and should be visited by every fisherman just for the experience.
I should have titled this column, “The Fishing Trip That Never Happened.” For you see I did not get down there to fish. I had an invitation for three days of fishing with all expenses paid, hotel and meals. My guide was to be Pete Gluszek, B.A.S.S. Tournament Angler. Pete is rated in the top 150 bass fishermen in the country. The tears are falling on the keyboard as I write this.
The Susquehanna Flats has long been known as a great fishery. During the ‘70’s and ‘80’s it went through troubled times as many of our great river systems did. The industrial build up of the 1960’s and the lack of environmental controls took their toll. This is a huge area encompassing a number of rivers that feed the Flats. They say 100 bass boats can launch and disappear into the vastness. The Elk River, the North East and the Sassafras all converge in the same area. With a boat and some range you can fish until your wife sends out a search party.
This area is precisely where the fresh water of the Susquehanna River and the others meet the saltwater of the Chesapeake Bay. It is tidal water, which is good, but adds a new level of difficulty. The water varies 1.5 feet from low to high tide. The depth ranges from 2’-5’. Grass and reeds are everywhere on the Flats. Local clubs have embarked on a weed-transplanting program. This is largemouth country. It is home to many prestigious bass tournaments each year. It takes 20-23 pounds for 5 fish to win a tournament. We are talking 4-5 pound fish are common.
You will find your favorite habitat if you search for it. This adds to the excitement. You can pitch to old barges and half-sunken tugboats. You can spinnerbait the weed beds. You can sight fish clumps of reeds. You can flip the boat docks located up the tributaries. You can surface or sub-surface stickbaits and crankbaits. You can pitch worms and jigs tight to cover and you will find nice fish. Pete Gluszek says, “If your trolling motor is not churning up the mud, you’re fishing too deep.” Traditional thinking says on an incoming tide fish shallow. Outgoing tides, pull back and fish the first deep water.
Hot baits include almost anything in your box, but the pros and my good buddy Vic Attardo gave me some tips. You see I was supposed to meet Vic and fish with him. Or, shall we say outfish him. He hates when that happens.
The spinnerbait is never cold and it is an effective weapon in the shallow water and cover. Excalibur’s 3/8 oz white with gold tandem Colorado blades and a white and chartreuse skirt is a winner. The new Bomber Shallow A in Fire Tiger runs a mere 6” under the water. The bucketmouths jump all over this new lure. For flippin’ to the docks and fishing tight to cover, the pros used a 4” finesse worm in purple flake with a screw-in cone sinker. Vic says the new Riverside Vibra King Tube in watermelon seed was a producer. It looks like a small octopus. Green fish just love to attack prey with tentacles. Vic says the fishing is fabulous.
Make no mistake I am furious that I didn’t make this trip and sample this fishing firsthand. An all expenses paid trip does not come along too often even for outdoor writers. However, I had bigger fish to fry. I was forced to cancel this trip and travel to the Harrisburg Game Commissioners’ meeting and speak on behalf of my First Amendment rights. It seems the PGC is not enthralled with my commentary addressing their shortcomings.
You see, preserving our rights to hunt and fish and to speak freely about our government’s direction is far more important to me than a five pounder. I can always fish the Flats tomorrow. If we don’t stay active and speak up, unfortunately, there may not be a tomorrow.
“Our hunting and fishing success stories are merely the by-product of our political and environmental accomplishments.” Jim Slinsky
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