Ok…I’m back! My guiding is keeping me pretty busy but I ended my guiding trips for the year in October. I’ve been doing a lot of fall fishing. Check out my latest post over at the Wilderness Systems Blog. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy this weeks post!
I and a couple of other kayak fisherman decided to do some late fall/early winter smallmouth fishing on the Susquehanna River. I left the house at 5 a.m. and we converged on the Susqehanna at about 7 a.m. prepared to fish one of my favorite wintering areas. While other folks were standing in line outside their local “big box” store, I was unpacking my gear on the riverbank and dawning my cold weather gear for a day of fishing. Instead of fighting with middle age housewives and tough old grandma’s over the latest electronics or “must have” toys, I was preparing to do battle with the bronze bruisers of the Susquehanna River!
It was a beautiful day for winter fishing. The air temperature topped out at about 44 degrees and the water was a balmy 43 degrees. Simply awesome fishing weather! We were even greeted with an early morning rain shower. The wind was our friend today…you know… that friend that won’t go home after the party is over. Winds were out of the west at about 10 m.p.h. most of the day with gusts up to 23 m.p.h.
The river was on a slight rise. There had been a rain event farther up river. I had hoped for a little more drastic rise but that wasn’t in the cards. Smallmouth typically go on the feed when the river is on the rise.
The Winco’ Chillee Willee accounted for all my fish today and out produced all other baits we threw. Rigged on a 1/8 oz football head it is an excellent imitation of a minnow slowly working it’s way across the river bottom. I ended the trip with 12 smallmouth landed and 2 lost on the way to the kayak. I couldn’t crack 18 inches today on smallmouth. That’s a personal goal I have every time I hit the water. I want to catch something over 18 inches. I did catch two 17′s and a really chunky 17.25. Not a bad outing for winter fishing in some less that optimal weather conditions! I was definitely satisfied. Even more so than I would have been if I has scored a great deal at the shopping mall!
It was a tough bite. Most anglers in the area that I talked to were struggling to put a couple smallmouth in the boat. My strategy was simple. I wanted to put my bait in front of as many potential biters as possible. That’s somewhat of a difficult task in the winter because your presentations have to be slow…VERY slow. I ended up drifting ledges using a combination of the current, wind and one handed paddling to SLOWLY drag baits across submerged ledge rock and down into the trenches. I would drag the bait about 10 inches or so then let it sit for 10-15 seconds. The slow methodical presentation really paid off today!