Sunday, March 23, 2014

The First Fishing Trip of 2014 with Josh Kreider (03/23/14)

Hello Folks,

Finally, a day on the water with my very good fishing buddy, Josh Kreider (Saturday, March 22, 2014). We met at his home at 7:45 a.m. and headed to the Mt. Joy Diner for a quick breakfast of "Cream Chipped Beef on Biscuit", OJ, and a hot cup of coffee before heading to the Susquehanna River for our first fishing trip of the season.

Soft plastic tubes were the lure of choice that brought the strikes. We landed 15 very large bass with only a few going under 15 inches throughout the outing.

Josh caught three quick bass before I even got my first in the boat...

Josh's (Duck Dynasty Cap) First Smallmouth of 2014
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Dad's First Smallmouth of 2014
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As we were drifting the river, I happened to see an adult Peacock walking along the edge of the shoreline. I have never, in my entire life, seen a peacock while fishing on the Susquehanna or any other river. I remember years ago on the Arkindale Flats on the Potomac River there was a nearby farm that had an exotic peacock caged up. We could hear it's exotic calls for quite some distance. There was also a peacock near Hopkins Cove on the Conowingo Pond back in the 1990s..

Peacock on the Susquehanna River... At the foot of the tree.
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Peacock Pic #2... Boy, I could use those tail feathers for my fly tying supplies!
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Upon launching, we found the river to be like a sheet of ice with a cold temperature of 39 degrees. It is extremely important to wear your PFDs during these cold water months! But as the afternoon approached, the winds started to pick up from the WNW at a sustained 20 mph. The air temperature rose from 40 degrees to 66 degrees by the time we exited the river. There were some whitecaps showing in the middle of the larger stretches of water and we knew that our run back to the ramp would be a lot rougher than our journey out.

The roughness of this stretch of the river is nothing like that at Fort Hunter when the winds blow in from the north or at Long Level (Lake Clarke), just above the Safe Harbor Dam. Those two stretches of open water on the main stem of the Susquehanna River can become rather treacherous during high winds. In fact, a few years ago, a RiverPro IB Jet Rig sank during a tournament on Lake Clarke as the winds blew hard. As far as I know, that beautiful jet rig was never recovered from that day.

Despite the consistent winds, the bite didn't die off. What I did notice was that the fish wanted the plastics dragged tight along the bottom. The early bites from the big girls were basically a "grab and hold'. We felt their weight rather than the bite.

The winds picked up as the afternoon approached, the smallmouths' bites got more violent and you could feel the "thunk" rather than just their weight.

The longer we could keep the lure down and in contact with the bottom, the better our chances of getting a good hard bite. The same scenario happened on the North Branch a few years ago when Josh was in the front of the boat and I was on the back deck. He had the opportunity to keep his lure in constant contact with the bottom and dragging throughout the entire cast. The angler on the back deck does not get that time to keep their lure dragging on the bottom. When I got the chance on the front deck the next day, I was able to take advantage and caught quite a few more smallies. It's always important to figure out what the fish want in the way of presentation. This type of "want" will most likely change as the warmer weather approaches and the water warms up. Then the rear fisherman often gets the advantage of "first cast" if the boat is drifting  downriver with the bow facing into the current for control.

River fishing is much more different than fishing on a lake. During my tournament years, I learned early on that being of the front of the boat was to your advantage during tournaments... First cast to structure, boat control, etc. I met a lot of boat owner tournament anglers who would "front end" their riders for total advantage... It's a common practice and expected during tournaments. 

Here was one of my biggest fish of the day. It measured in at just over 17.5 inches. 
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Josh's fish were quite large with only a couple going around 15".
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Here are the two largest fish caught during our adventure. This first one is an 18.5" smallie weighing in at just over 3 lbs...
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And here is our largest fish of the day. A gorgeous 19.5" smallmouth bass, weighing in at 4 lbs on The Boga Grip! In the next few weeks this same fish will be adding on weight as she prepares for the spring spawn...
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We finally called it as day around 2:45 p.m. after 5 hours of fishing and a couple of sore arms and thumbs. It was a memorable first outing. We found the smallies were hungry and eager to take our offerings. As pre-spawn develops, we should see even more larger bass biting and their weights increasing... Those days aren't too far away!

Josh and I will be heading up to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River from April 16 through April 19, 2014. So keep an eye out for that upcoming entry here at "Fishing With Dad" when we return home. It will be our first adventure to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River since the Spring of 2011.

Currently, a few of the ramps in that area are loaded with very large chunks of ice that were pushed up during the late winter high waters. I'm not sure if they will be open by the time we arrive, but we'll be sure to find those launches that are!

Take Care and Be Safe!