Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Susquehanna River 11_25_09

After basketball tryouts last evening, I checked my cell phone and there was a message from my good friend and retired agriculture educator, Mike Burton. I met Mike Burton over 25 years ago and we've been fishing buddies ever since.

During our careers, we worked closely together to bring bass fishing techniques and lure making to hundreds of young men and women in the Penn Manor School District, Lancaster County, Pa. I taught the middle school students the "basics of bass" and seasonal patterns while Mike caught the kids during high school and taught lure making and advanced fishing techniques .

In the early years, our bass club would have a yearly picnic and fishing adventure on the Susquehanna River at Lake Clarke (Long Level). As years past, we created a very active youth club (still in existence) which hundreds of young fishing enthusiasts passed through. Our goal was to always instill a lifetime love for the outdoors and bass fishing. Many of our past students are now adults and still enjoying fishing for smallmouth bass angling. Several are actually in the fishing business like JC Nuss of Lakeside Marine and Mike Phillips of Phillips Bait and Tackle.

Mike asked me to return his call asap which I did right away. He was planning a fishing outing for the next morning (11/25/09) and asked if I would like to join him. Because of basketball season starting and my coaching at the junior high level, I can only fish until 1:00 p.m. So, we decided to meet at the ramp around 6:30 a.m. and I would drive my own vehicle in order to get myself to practice on time...

"Let me think about this, Mike. Of course I'll go!"

Mike bought a used Snyder about a year ago. It's a very nice and comfortable ride with a lot of open space which makes it very easy to move about the boat. I like it's "fishability!" This was my third trip with Mike in his Snyder.

We planned to fish below Sunbury which meant I had to wake at 4:15 a.m. to get ready and be on the road by 5:15 a.m. I always enjoy my early morning rides. I relax, listen to some music, and try to focus on how to spend my day fishing.

The Weather Channel throughout the evening and early morning "Weather on the 8"s" only called for drizzle and a 40% chance of rain... WRONG!It takes me just over an hour to get to this ramp. About 25 minutes into the long drive, it began to drizzle and then rain. We had rain or drizzle up until noontime today before it slowed and eventually stopped.

When we headed out from the ramp, the clouds had us socked in and there was a light, but consistent, rain. My nice warm jacket has been having a zipper problems since our recent North Branch trip... like it doesn't want to stay closed... but I do have a series of snaps which help keep the jacket closed and me dry.

We launched the Snyder around 6:45 a.m. and ran upriver. The water temp was pretty steady at 48 degrees and we had a slight stain on the water. The air temp was also in the mid-40's with overcast and rainy skies. There was a slight southwest breeze most the day. Around noontime, the wind picked up quite a bit and made it much harder to read the ledges.

I began my morning by throwing a soft plastic Rocky River Craw without a bite. Mike chose a new LC jerkbait he bought called the XD78. He also failed to hook up for almost a 30 minute period.

Our first bass came on a "Bronze Bushwhacker"... Wait, the first five bass came on the BW including this beautiful 18.25" smallie. None of my spinnerbait were under 15".

It took the jerkbait about 40 minutes to bring the first fish into the boat. After that, It was a fantastic non-stop two hour flurry of JB smallmouth bass.

Here are two of the smallies Mike caught today... We chose not to take too many pics in the rain to save my digital camera from the rain.

18+ on the LC XD78 in 8' of water

Mike dropped this fish back into the drink before we had a chance to measure it. I estimated this pigbeast at pushing if not being a 20" smallie(?) on the LC XD78... What a Toad?

The major morning catch started around 7:15 a.m. and ended by 9:30 a.m. I was sad to see it slow down, but it was sure a great ride while it lasted! The bite really slowed as the winds picked up and changed direction from the southwest to the southeast. The fish didn't totally stop, but our bites sure did spread out.

I caught fish on the Bronze Bushwhacker and the 2.5" tubes with 1/8th oz. ball head jigs. Mike caught fish on the LC XD78 and even one on a swimbait... His very first ever! Good job, Mike.

Because we were one of several boats that braved the elements this morning, the river gods rewarded us with a 30+ bass day in a short five hour period of time. Mike cleaned up on the JB bite and I nailed them on the small-arm spinnerbait. Just un-freaking-believable!