Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fishing With Steve "iFish" Halbleib... 09/04/14

Hello Folks,

This past Thursday, I was invited by my good friend, Steve (iFish) Halbleib to go fishing with him below our state capitol, Harrisburg, Pa. Steve belongs to NASS (Bass Club), a catch, weigh, and release club. NASS was scheduled for a tournament today, Saturday September 6, 2014. I was happy to assist Steve in locating fish and eliminating water for today's tournament.

I meet Steve at 6:00 a.m. at the designated launch site below Harrisburg, Pa. It was still dark outside when I arrived and got a call from Steve that he was on his way but had to stop at the local gas station to fill up his boat's gas tank. He had seen Anthony Cicero, III (Little Anthony) just leaving the gas station as he was pulling in. "Little Anthony" also fishes with the NASS Club. Steve told me to keep my eyes open because I may see "Little Anthony" pulling into the launch. But Anthony chose to launch at a ramp a bit further south and at the location that NASS was suppose to launch from on Saturday.  However, before the end of our fishing trip on Thursday, the tournament director had called Steve to let him know that he had changed the launch site in anticipation that the river's water level would continue to drop... In actuality, the river level rose from the rains we received on Friday afternoon.

6:00 a.m. at the Launch
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It was about 6:15 a.m. when Steve finally pulled into the launch. We transferred all my gear and tackle from my truck over into his boat. I jumped onto the front seat of his pick-up truck and backed him and his jet rig into the river. As I was pulling up from the ramp and into the parking lot with Steve's trailer, Mark Snyder, a friend of Steve's, entered the parking lot and began to prepare his boat for fishing the day. In fact, after he launched his jet rig, he climbed onto the bow of his boat, put his trolling motor down into the water, and started to fish... Fast and Simple. Steve told me that Mark was an excellent jig fisherman. Mark chose to fish a twin-tailed jig throughout the day while on the water.

Mark Snyder on the Susquehanna River
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The jet rig we were fishing from was actually Mark's old rig. Steve had bought this rig a few years ago from Mark. Mark was now fishing from a newer production of the G3 DLX. The rig I currently fish from is also a 10 year old DLX, but not the production model that Mark owns. Mine was just a hull that JC Nuss and I took and designed the interior according to my specifications.

We started the day by running downriver and fishing a mid-river grass bed that I like to start with in the morning. This grass bed has been very productive over the years and has given me very nice smallmouth, including a few citation bass. We started by fishing this area with a buzzbait and a topwater plug. The buzzbait attracted only one strike and the plug did not produce. However, we did get two fish to grab a War Eagle Spinnerbait in 1/2 oz. Mouse color with the Double Willow Leaf Blades... We did notice a lot of smaller fish "slurping" flies off the surface. These fish were not interested at all in what we offered.

From our first stop, we headed to the eastern side of the river and fished a few od Steve and his father's favorite ledges. Steve was able to attract a few bites using a spinnerbait...

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... and I was able to hit a walleye off the spinnerbait while we were floating these ledges along the eastern shoreline.

After about a half hour of fishing the ledges, we headed upriver and over to the western half of the river. We could tell that the water looked "nervous" (skinny) in the slight southerly breeze and our jet rig immediately got hung up on this very shallow spot. Steve said that this was his very first "hang-up" of the year. Years ago, Bob Clouser introduced me to this area which holds two rocky smallmouth feeding beds that are located very close to one another. I tossed my Alabama rig, swimbait, and tube in this area while Steve continued to toss his spinnerbait and tube. We failed to catch any fish in this shallow spot.

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Mark was having great success off the rocky shorelines of a certain mid-river grass bed that he invited us to come to and join him. Mark was fishing the southern point off this grass bed and Steve decided to head north and above the grass bed. Within a few cast, Steve pulled a nice spinnerbait bass from submerged grasses and downriver from us, Mark nailed another jig fish. We witnessed Mark catch two bass before we caught up to him... Nice job, Mark!

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We got to talk with Mark and he asked Steve to show him how to run safely to the western section of the Susquehanna River between the mid-river grass beds when the river was at 3.6' at the Harrisburg gauge. So, we headed across the river again and Mark followed us into the area he wanted to fish... Safely!

I guided Steve past a very shallow section of the river that I used to run when I guided back in the 90s. We made it safely and fished an area that JC Nuss from Lakeside Marine dubbed, "The Boyd Flats". This has been a very productive flats when the river is registering 3.6'  like on Thursday! Pretty impressive area with water as deep as 7'  that starts out with a beautiful ledge and falls off into the deeper section.

No wonder I think I'm a "Legend in His Own Mind" when I have great tournament anglers like JC Nuss calling a certain section of the river... "The Boyd Flats"... LOL!

Throughout the day, we tried to get onto a pattern.

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What we found out was that spinnerbaits and jigs were the ticket...

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The sky was extremely hazy and overcast most of the day, as seen in the picture below. When I left my home at 5:00 a.m., the air temperature was a cool 59 degrees and by 1:00 p.m., it had risen to a humid 89 degrees. The water had that Susquehanna River green stain to it and was about 75 degrees. That is two degrees more than it was on Staurday when Josh and I were fishing further upriver.

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On the first cast off the ledge, I had a keeper fish hit a tube. We ended up having five fish in the boat on only one float south on the "The Boyd Flats"...

Mark was able to catch nearly 15+ bass on his jigs and we had 10+ smallmouth using a variety of lures... buzzbaits, topwater plugs, lipless crank baits, tubes, spinnerbaits (Colored Blades and Double Willow Blades), Stick Baits (Winco and Yamamoto Senkos 4" and 5"), Alabama Rig, and Reaction Innovation Sexy Shad Skinny Dipper swimbait. Form the assortment of lures used on Thursday, Steve was able to narrow his selection today to a few.

Our Thursday trip not only gave Steve several very productive river locations to fish during the upcoming tournament, but it also helped him eliminate unproductive water in this section of the river.

Today, Saturday, September 06, 2014, was Steve's NASS Club tournament. Steve's rider, Larry, won the tournament and also took lunker!!! However, Steve was also super successful today even though it wasn't Steve's day to win. Our trip on Thursday placed him in the correct areas of the river. With the help of Mark, Steve also put together a successful pattern and eliminated the unproductive waters on a large section of the Susquehanna River.

Steve's partner weighed in 12.90 lbs of fish... a "Four Fish Limit". That is 3.22 lbs per fish... with the lunker going over 4 lbs. Good job, Larry and Steve!

Larry with a 4.65 lb "Lunker Smallmouth" during the NASS club tournament on Saturday, September 6, 2014 on the Susquehanna River... Not sure what the length was but probably nearing the 20" mark at that weight...
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Take Care and Be Safe!