Sunday, November 1, 2009

Prepping For The North Branch

Thank goodness Josh and I changed our original trip plans from November 1 to November 8, 2009. The North Branch has been blown out for several days now due to the recent rains. Despite the conditions, Josh's father and brother may have headed north anyway. Good luck, guys!

Before last Sunday's tournament, I removed all my old line from each reel. Then I cleaned and conditioned each reel before adding brand new line. I normally place 14 lb test on my baitcasters and 10 lb test on my spinning reels. I have gone as low as 8 lb on the spinning reels, but I know the river is unforgiving and I will only do so under certain circumstances.

What's in my tackle bag will most likely sustain me during our North Branch trip. However, I have added some of my additional favorites and a few new lures, too. There are two different colored laminated tubes I like to throw while fishing the NB. I've found that one of those colors (NBSCT1) is really a decent tube for nice sunny days. The other color (NBSCT2) can be used during both sunny and overcast days. I stumbled onto this while fishing the NB a few years ago. The NBSCT2 was a new color that year and we were having tremendous success down here on the main stem and Lower Susquehanna River. So, I carried it along on our annual NB fall fishing trip.

I was on the water with Pete Hanford and we started to notice that the NBSCT1 wasn't performing like it was the day before when the sun was out and shining bright. We started to search for a darker tube that would get the job done and stumbled onto the NBSCT2. It was a big hit with the NB smallies... problem solved.

Another color that has worked well for us has been the Black Neon. The Black Neon is a double dipped black colored tube with red flakes. I can remember back in 2006, Timmy Fehr's son and I had a great day fishing behind three others as we floated backwards down the river.

Another thing that really helped us that day was my drag chain.

Bungee Chord to prevent grabbing and throwing occupants in boat!

The Chains... Can add or subtract depending on need.

This idea came from my many trips with raft owners at rodeos and other gatherings. These drag chains were usually located just below the middle seat of the raft. It was used to slow the raft or as an anchor.

My good buddy, Bob Clouser, had a similar setup on his G3 and there was yet another system that used a bag that Chris Gorsuch gave us to try. That setup needed a few shoreline rocks to add to the bag for weight. Chris' system didn't use the bungee chord attachment, but Bob's did. The bungee system is a necessary apparatus that will prevent dangerous situations from developing. As always, one should carry a knife for those situations that may require the boat operator to cut the drag chain away.

Armed with the general idea and witness the other systems in action, I approached my ex-student and Lakeside Marine (Harrisburg, Pa.) Salesman, JC Nuss, to see what we could find that would guide the drag chain rope into the boat. We looked high and low and finally settled on the system you see in the picture. It is a heavy-duty SS guide and jam cleat used on sailboats. Cool Beans!

This drag chain system allowed us to slow down to a point where we could work the shoreline structure efficiently despite the flow. The second boat below us didn't have this setup and could not slow enough with only the TM to hit each and every spot thoroughly. A big advantage for us. It also allows me to come off the TM and face my target. As one who has had his hips replaced, I can tell you that by positioning myself facing my target takes a lot of strain off not only my leg and hip regions, but also my lower back. I do not have to be twisted for what seems like hours at a time.

I also have a good supply of Lucky Craft and other jerkbaits in my tackle bag. These are always big winners during our fall fishing trips.

Last year, I picked up a supply of the LD Slammers from Lance Dunham. Lance runs the LD Guide Service on the NB and created this color for his clients. He has had tremendous success using them and so did we on our 2008 NB Fall trip. the LD Slammer helped us put over 100 fish in the boat during our second full day of fishing.

Another lure I'll be carrying is the new Bronze Bushwhacker by Winco Custom Lures. This is the short arm spinnerbait that Al Winco and I were testing on his recent trip with me to the Lower Susquehanna River. I have four different prototypes to try on our upcoming trip. I understand that it is getting a bit late to toss spinnerbaits (not really), but I'll give it a go You know me. I tend to do the out of the ordinary anyway!

I picked up a cold this past week and am now on Mucinex and Alka Seltzer Plus... great stuff! Hopefully, over the next week, I'll kick this thing and be back on track with my health. I'm hoping to get on the river sometime this week . The weather looks nice and cool... perfect for Fall fishing!

Take care,