Heads Up Susquehanna Flats Anglers This Could Be You

This is from my buddy Joe Yack and a warning to anyone fishing the Susquehanna flats this year.  Seems DNR is targeting striped bass anglers heavier this year.  People have gotten fines for taking pictures.

striped bass, rockfish, Susquehanna Flats catch and release fishery, chesapeake bay, marylannd, trophy bass
Joe Yack with a legally caught and released bass at the flats last year.


This year (2017), there is an increased enforcement on the Susquehanna Flats catch and release fishery. The DNR has officers on shore with spotting scopes watching anglers fishing in the river. Many tickets for 250 dollars each were written to anglers for “Failure to immediately release the fish”… In general any fish taken out of the water for a picture was ticketed. So, with that in mind this is what I suggest to anyone fishing the area.

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  • Do not take the fish out of the water, un-hook at boat side
  • If you must take a picture, do it fast and return the fish quickly
  • If your device has video, take a short video of the landing and release of the fish, it may save you if you have to go to court
  • The fish should not be out of the water for more than a minute
  • All hooks on trolling gear must be barbless, and if you are casting plugs they should be barbless also, just to be safe
  • Bait fishermen must use circle hooks on any hook with a gap of ½” or more.
  • Obey all applicable fishery regulations as printed.

This enforcement is necessary because officers have been seeing people keeping the fish out of the water for long periods and handling the fish in a rough manner. There are also fishermen targeting Rockfish above the line. This is not good. Last year a DNR officer was concerned about snagging fish and gave me a hard time for only having the barbs on my plugs mashed down not filed off completely. This is splitting hairs in my opinion. I was given a warning.  Bait fishing without using circle hooks kills a bunch of fish by deep hooking… follow the regulations and treat the fish gently.

Maybe Recreational anglers have gotten sloppy in the way we handle fish. Maybe guys are fishing too close to the boundary and drawing attention to them. Maybe some guys are fishing over the line and keeping fish out of season.  Maybe guys are snagging fish instead of catching them properly. These are the reasons for the enforcement. The Susky is a wonderful fishery and I plan to fish it often this spring. I hope following these suggestions will keep me from getting fined!

Joe Yack

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