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May 6, 2011

Here's mud in your eye

From a boat on the Chesapeake Bay, you can see how bad spring runoff is.

From a NASA satellite, it's even more dramatic and doesn't look like it's going to clear up anytime soon. This image was taken April 30, the last really clear day, but a peek through the clouds on Tuesday shows the chocolate brown plume still in place.

The muck coursing down the Susquehanna River chased off veteran largemouth bass guides like Ken Penrod last week. Capt. "Walleye" Pete Dahlberg, a striped bass guide who works Susquehanna Flats--the bowl-shaped area at the mouth of the river--has given up and moved south to Solomons.


"This year was by far the worst season I have ever seen at the Susqy Flats," Dahlberg wrote in an email. "The fish were in the region, many large fish caught on bait but not on lures. The Susquehanna River watershed recieved way too much water for us to have a good catch-and-release fishery at the Flats...Because of the horrible conditions, I canceled all my trips and was forced to pull the plug at the Susqy Flats and run home with my tail between my legs."

Turbidity is measured with a secchi disk, a simple black-and-white circle suspended in the water and lowered until it becomes invisible.

A Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff member was on the Flats last Friday and lost sight of a secchi disk at three inches.

Comparing data from all of April to April 2010, the turbidity is worse in places like the mouth of the Susquehanna, Turkey Point at the mouth of the Elk River and just north of the Bay Bridge.

You can follow the progress of the muck on the Department of Natural Resources website, Eyes on the Bay

"Historical data reveals very successful spawning when waters are high," wrote Dalhberg. "So, I'd say maybe we have a silver lining to our horrible Flats season."

Posted by Candus Thomson at 9:49 AM |
About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.

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