Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finally... Back On The Water With Josh (July 3, 2011)

Hello Folks,

It's been seven days since my last adventure on the Susquehanna River. The last trip I made ended with a "Big Skunking". I was determined not to allow that to happen once again. So, Josh and I chose a site above Harrisburg, Pa. that normally holds a decent number of smallmouth bass during this time of year.

The biggest factor of catching fish is finding fish. That doesn't always guarantee success, but it sure does increase your chances tremendously.

What I found hard to believe, being that it was the 4th of July weekend, was that there was absolutely no one else at the ramp. Not a single shoreline or boating angler.

We did have a terrible set of thunderstorms pass through our area at 3:00 am that may have caused some to give up on their plans. In fact, Josh and I were going to meet at 5:00 am, but held off until 6:00 am until the storms passed through.

We decided to stop for breakfast before running north. During breakfast, we kept a close watch on the weather report on the restaurant's television and also on our cell phones' "Weatherbug" app.

Things seem to be settling down. We hit the road and made it to the ramp by 7:00 am. A little later than we would have liked, but not too bad.

As we were crossing the Clarks Ferry Bridge on Rt. 322/22, we noticed that both shorelines were muddy. The river beyond the shorelines looked much better, but stained. We weren't sure what to expect once we reached the ramp.

As we were pulling into the driveway to the launch, a downpour hit us... Oh, boy! It only lasted a few minutes, but I put my Frogg Toggs on just to be safe and keep my butt dry until the rain water evaporated off the boat.

What we found at the ramp was pretty similar to what we saw while crossing the bridge... muddy shoreline and heavily stained towards the middle. That put a damper on my thoughts about tossing a buzzbait over ledges first thing.

Instead, I opted for a 3/8th oz. Winco Smallmouth Special Spinnerbait with a white/ chartreuse skirt and a large hammered bronze willow leaf blade and smaller chrome Colorado blade. Josh chose to throw a 1/2 oz. War Eagle in a mouse skirt.

I got on the board after about twenty minutes with a nice 15" fatty. It was a good fish, but we knew there were bigger fish to be had.

Within and few minutes, the first of our larger fish, a hefty 18" smallie, nailed the Winco spinnerbait...


We decided to make the productive drift again. In the same area that I caught the first two, another 18" smallie hit and stripped line off my new KVD 7:1 baitcaster reel...


"Okay, Josh, it's your turn."

I told him that once he catches that first fish, he'll have figured what he needs to do to catch more. He finally got on the board and he was off to the races.

It was a hazy, hot, and humid morning. We were both enjoying the solitude of the river and the lack of boats and noise.

Running upriver first thing in the morning...


One of many islands and cuts to be found in the area where we were fishing.


Water level picture showing the coloration and clarity of the water. It had a heavily stained look to it.


Here's a picture of Josh "working" a feisty smallmouth back to the boat. He was in full concentration as his rod bent and the fish pulled hard trying to dig towards the bottom of the river.


I tried many lures throughout the day. As you can see by the picture below, I have an arsenal of stained water tackle to use in search of large smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River.

Baitcaster Setups - Spinnerbait, Big O (Firetiger), and a Cotton Cordell Super Spot


Spinning Setups - Buzzbait, tube, and Winco Wacky Stick (Green Pumpkin)


Here's a beautiful smallie nestled in Josh's rubberized net. Rubberized nets are great tools to use to protect your catch. There's a slight trick in using them... Place the net downriver and allow your partner to "guide" the smallmouth into the net. Try not to "stab" at the fish. This will avoid the risk of knocking the bass off the hook. Allow the fish to fully lay in the net without lifting it with your rod. Once in the net, Smallmouth tend to "relax" as they lay on the soft rubber.


Josh caught a very healthy looking 17" smallie after changing his spinnerbait and adding chartreuse to the skirt... The Ticket!


The Spinnerbait!


Not only was he now "on fire", but look at this pigbeast... A 19.25" on the same spinnerbait! Way to go, Josh.


Yes, Josh caught the biggest fish of the day and he didn't fail to let me know this... over and over and over... LOL!

I caught a pic of Josh with his last fish of the day as he was carefully removing the spinnerbait from it's lip.


What a great day to be on the water! We weren't sure what to expect when we first arrived and saw the mud line running down the shoreline and no boats in the parking lot. Maybe they knew something that we didn't?

The air temp was a steamy 71 degrees in the morning and rose to 92 degrees by 2:30 pm... Yowser! I was a sweaty mess until a southern breeze kicked in after lunch and help cool us down.

The water was muddy to heavily stained at 79-80 degrees. As the day progressed, the water clarity became better and the very visible mud line dissipated.

There were a ton of kayak paddlers on the river. More and more seem to come the longer we fished. I appreciated that they respected our fishing and stayed a good distance away. I believe everyone up Rt. 11/15 owns a kayak and in a multitude of colors. :)

We ended our day around 2:45 pm and headed back to Lancaster County. I invited Josh over to my home after he put his jet rig in the garage. He accepted my invitation and came down for grilled chicken and corn on the cob, plus a dip in the pool.

A perfect way to end the day!


Side Notes:

Jeff and his wife Penny were fishing Lake Aldred on Sunday in the early evening and got chased off by a terrible thunderstorm that skirted just south of our home.

While on the river, they were able to get some great shots of an immature American Bald Eagle:



Take note to the speckled coloring of the immature...


Here are some pretty "ugly" looking storm clouds that Jeff and Penny had to drive through on their way home.



...and my favorite... Notice the dark cloud line running up and down this pic.


While Jeff and Penny were out on Lake Aldred, they encountered this tremendous water torrent released by the Safe Harbor Dam. Be aware, Jeff uses a few expletives ("Potty Mouth") in his description of what he was witnessing on a "recreational holiday". You will hear him say that the dams lowered and raised the water level approximately 4' in the time he and Penny were on the river... Simply amazing!

After viewing this video, you will have no doubt when I say it can be rather dangerous fishing in this area. If you go to Lake Aldred, be very careful and heed all warning sirens at the Safe Harbor Dam.

Take Care and Be Safe,