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Fishing in Sandy’s Wake

We may have a week of clean water before Conowingo’s mud plume

We were quite fortunate in avoiding the predicted calamity of Superstorm Sandy. New York and New Jersey did not share our good fortune. The northern winds that blew the whole of the three-day tempest emptied the Bay of water and protected us against the massive storm surge that flooded the coastal areas and created such devastation.
    After Sandy passed over us, however, it traveled on up through the Susquehanna drainage into Pennsylvania, all the way to the Great Lakes, delivering millions of gallons of rainwater along the way.


The bite, surprisingly, may briefly remain about the same as it has been for a few days until the storm’s runoff gradually builds up and we’re overcome by muddy water. After that it will be a waiting game. Look for cleaner water, be patient and keep fishing. Things will be back to normal toward the end of the month. By then there should also be some big ocean-run wintering stripers.

Hunting Season Dates

Fall turkey: thru Nov. 3
Railbird: thru Nov. 9
Whitetail and sika deer bow season:
thru Nov. 23
Light geese: thru Nov. 23
Common snipe: thru Nov. 23
Woodcock: thru Nov. 23
Quail: thru Jan. 15
Ruffed grouse: thru Jan. 31
Sea ducks: thru Jan. 31
Squirrel: thru Feb. 28

    We will definitely see some of those results in the form of mud, timber debris and refuse as that runoff travels back down the Susquehanna through the Conowingo Dam and down into our Bay. It won’t, however, be anywhere near last year’s deluge of refuse, junked cars, discarded refrigerators and old stoves washed out of Pennsylvania by Irene and Lee.
    Halfway through November should be sufficient for the worst effects, mostly mud, to pass through. Thereafter, angling should become a continual search for cleaner water, with jigging and trolling the dominant techniques in what’s left of our 2012 season.

Prepare for Changed Fishing
    Bait-fishing will change from live-lining to chumming now that the Norfolk spot have fled the Bay. Surprisingly, the top-water bite may have survived: We may have clean water for almost a week before the mud plume generated by the storm’s runoff gathers at the Conowingo, then engulfs us.
    You’ll want to change your tackle to keep up with the season. Colder temperatures will make fluorocarbon much stiffer and virtually unmanageable, most notably in the heavier-line tests. Monofilament, especially the softer varieties, will take the temperature change. But I’m betting on braid to be the best post-storm solution. As we hook more debris, braid’s inherent limpness should make for fewer breakages. With braid, you’ll also use higher line tests in anticipation of some big cold-weather stripers before the season ends in mid-December.
    The megastorm will also reposition the concentration of stripers. Though I’m guessing that the Eastern Bay will recover the soonest, and the schools that have been recently haunting the Poplar Island area, the Hill and the False Channel will eventually return to those general areas, I have no such hopes for the Western Shore.
    The freshwater influx from Sandy’s rains will also chase out all the redfish, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish and the saltier marine denizens that moved up into our neighborhoods the last few months to take advantage of higher summertime salinities.
    Crabbing is mostly over. The silver lining may be the preservation of a few more females if watermen don’t put their pots back in for the remainder of the season. After the unexplained disappearance of a third of the adult female population last winter, Sandy may end up helping protect some of this vital population — despite the apathy of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.