The Hot Spot this week (before the rain) was the Susquehanna River in Duncannon, Pennsylvania. I used the ramp at the Riverfront Campgrounds and loaded the boat with three primary baits : Bigmouth Spinnerbaits (Penrod Special color), Bigmouth Big Shakey (Black/blue with black blade) and of course -Campground Tubes with 1/8 RAB jighead. I fished the river Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when water levels were in the 5’s (my personal favorite stage) but as one can clearly see from the attachment – the river rose dramatically from the recent rains. However, the river will recede rather quickly and I hope to be back at Johnnys by Thursday. Just a couple of things about the river stages: 1. Always check the river chart before heading to the Susquehanna. It not only clues you in to fish locations but to safe boating conditions, ramp access. Personally I prefer fishing when the river is in the 5 stages because it gives me a lot of fishing options and locations. Also, Johnnys Ramp is easily accessible at those levels. Usually, the ramp becomes tricky in the mid 7’s. 2. In the Spring- the LOU guides went out at stages above 10 but that is certainly going to limit the fishable water. 3. When the water gets below 4 stage – this will also limit boat movement because it’s getting shallow. Also, one factor to keep in mind from last week was the amount of leaves and debris in the water – because jet drive motors were getting clogged up quite often.
The fishing was very good last week. There must be fish in the confluence because there were quite a few boats there as well as shore anglers. However, I fished shoreline eddies above and below the ramp. I primarily focused on the west side because it was slightly clearer but still had enough stain to make a Spinnerbaits very effective. Although the water is in the low 50’s, the smallmouth would wallop a Spinnerbait when cast accurately and quietly into eddies formed by downed trees, points or creek entrances. When I say “wallop” – I mean wallop!! The leaves did make the Spinnerbait and Big Shakey fine lure presentations because crankbaits, jerkbaits, etc we’re leaf magnets. I used heavy Bigmouth spunnerbaits -1/2 ounce- with a chartreuse grub or swimbait trailer. The Penrod Special with big gold and chartreuse turtle or Colorado blades were ideal in the stained water. Again – the bait was great but it required an accurate cast beneath tree limbs because most of the fish were close to the bank and at the top of eddies. The fish that I caught were big, fat and healthy looking. It’s not everywhere- especially in Rivers – where big smallmouths will hit a big Spinnerbait or Chatterbait.
I did catch a couple of fish in the Juniata. I am a little concerned because of some reports by locals and my own fishing this past spring of below par fishing. I know that the Juniata (from confluence to upstream) was placed on the endangered list because of PH issues but I saw no info that they have identified the source of the problem. I will continue to fish this area and see for myself but I know last year there was a definite decline in fish catching from confluence to upstream areas.
The good news is that there are still a lot of big smallmouth that are willing to tear your Spinnerbaits into hunks of steel and lead. I know where I will be as soon as the water gets right – Johnnys Riverfront in my Big Bee Rockproof filled with Bigmouth Spinnerbaits, Big Shakey and Campground Tubes !