Rockfish season extended by six days, until May 9

The Baltimore Sun

Striped bass anglers will get an extra six days of catch-and-release fishing on Susquehanna Flats, a popular spot where the river meets the Chesapeake Bay.

Cool spring weather has kept the water temperature below 65 degrees, the threshold where fish begin to die faster when they are removed even briefly from the water.

The season was to end Saturday, but state fisheries managers have pushed the closing date to midnight May 9.

Biologist Marty Gary said the long-range forecast and discussions with conservation groups, fishing clubs, guides and Natural Resources police convinced the Department of Natural Resources that the season could be extended without causing harm to the state fish, also known as rockfish.

Surface water temperatures are running in the high 50s. Daytime air temperatures are expected to be in the low- to mid-70s, with nighttime temperatures in the 50s. Clouds are expected almost every day.

"Everyone is in agreement that the temperatures are going to hold for the next few days," Gary said.

Similar conditions last season allowed DNR to extend the season a week.

"The Flats," as anglers and waterfowl hunters call it, is an upside-down bowl at the northern end of the bay nestled between Harford and Cecil counties, with depths ranging from a few inches to a few feet. Around the rim is a channel of deeper water.

Fisheries managers are especially cautious because the Flats also sits in the middle of the East Coast's largest striped bass nursery, where the large migratory fish stop each spring to spawn on their way north.

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