A Day On The Rising River

1011709_673527346007295_1345389710_nA few months ago, a friend of mine called and said he books a few trips a year with LD Guide Service in northeast Pennsylvania to fish for bronzebacks on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Of course I jumped at the opportunity.

Lance Dunham has been fishing the area for almost 50 years and has been guiding for over 30. He is somewhat a legend and he LOVES what he does. The life of a fishing guide is not always easy. Inconsistent weather, inconsistent fishing and inconsistent income can take its toll. Lance just loves being out on the river, catching bass and having fun.

20130612_060831My buddy, John and I arrived at the Terrytown boat launch at 6 am on Wednesday. The water had risen 6 inches from the previous night and was on the rise. In the previous few weeks, smallies had been fixated on crankbaits, mostly in dark or red crayfish patterns. With these changing conditions, would the bass change to a different pattern?

As we hit the water in Lance’s 21 ft Sea Ark, the river had a heavy stain but wasn’t downright muddy, yet. There was quite a bit of rain that had come through New York and the water was making its way south. River conditions can change at a moment’s notice

1003101_673528156007214_1556471960_nWe moved to an area with current along a weed edge and within minutes had picked up our first bass within 5 feet of shore on a chartreuse and white spinnerbait.

When starting the day with multiple anglers, its always a good idea to vary up what you are fishing and the speed and depth of your technique. This allows you to find a pattern more quickly. Sometimes there is only one pattern that is hot, other times multiple approaches will work.

The three of us rotated our lure choices throughout the morning and early afternoon. We tried spinnerbaits, crankbaits, tubes and swimbaits.

Rising River Conditions

The water got higher through the day and I kept going back to the spinnerbait in most situations except when we were in deeper water.

Most of our fish came on the edge of faster moving water along the bank, eddys or current seams. Spinnerbaits ruled the day. Some fish were taken on dark colored crankbaits, a few on lipless crankbaits, tubes and one on a swimbait. To get the dark crankbaits we wanted, a good old black magic marker was used to color it…black.

20130612_135111Spinnerbaits are often ideal in these situations because when the river is rising quickly, smallies often move tight to the bank or tight to the bottom to avoid current. When the water is heavily stained, the flash and amount of water that the spinnerbait moves will often attract attention from nearby bass.

By the time we got off the water, the river had risen another foot or more and the water began to take on a bit of a chocolate look. We finished with 62 fish. Along with the smallies we caught a 25 in Northern Pike, a rock bass and a quillback.

When conditions change, be sure to reevaluate your options. Learning bass behavior and where they like to go under certain conditions will save the day. It also helps big-time to be with a guide that knows the river or lake like the back of his hand. What you learn in a day is invaluable if you pay attention and ask the right questions!

To check out Lance’s Facebook page, go here or his web site, here.

Tight lines everyone!

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