This Month with a Susquehanna River Guide

By Lance Dunham 

   We did get one more fishing trip in on the river in early December before the water came up and it got real cold out. The air was about 40 degrees, it was an overcast day, the river water was 37 degrees and light stained. A perfect December day! Nothing was frozen up on the boat and I could launch and fish immediately instead of running the boat on idle waiting for something to thaw out which happens quite a bit when the air is below the freezing mark . I was fishing with a buddy who throughout the years has become a very good jig fisherman, often hooking up with more fish than I do. When out fishing with friends or relatives that are not paying clients I have a tendency to just chill out and relax, I talk a lot and pick on my friends. Oh, I want to catch a fish all right but I could care less on how many we catch. I will try many or all of my sponsors’ lures that I have with me and also try to catch fish on all the different styles of All Pro Rods that I have with me.  We started out in the nearest slow water and I put the Talon anchors down. This helps me slowly cover all the water that we would usually float by. When I looked over to the shoreline, the usual bald eagles were perched in the trees, watching us closely; you could hear them chatter in the background. My first fish in to the boat was a nice 20” walleye that I had caught on a Chilli-bou hair jig from JJ’s Jigs. We noticed that it had teeth marks up both sides of it signifying that it had escaped from a large toothy predator, most likely a Musky or Northern Pike. We took a photo of it and let it go just as we had done with all the fish caught from my boat this season. We fished just for a few hours in several spots in the river and had a great time as usual. We ended up catching 17 smallmouth bass along with 2 walleyes in the mix on the hair jigs and one of my main lures this season, the Rage Baby Craw on a Moaner Predator jig hook. The bite was very light but I had no problem feeling even the slightest fish pick up my lure with my All Pro Rods. It was a good thing we fished that day for the river has now “iced up” here and it was the last time we got out for 2013.

    As tradition dictates at the end of the season I go through my daily log on my website, count up and report how many total fish of each species were caught from my boat. The totals are as follows: Smallmouth Bass 9,513 fish, Walleye 325 fish, Rock Bass 89 fish, Bluegill 29 fish, Channel Cats 17 fish, White Suckers or Fallfish 15 fish, Northern Pike 10 fish, Carp 6 fish, Musky 3 fish, and the Quillback 2 fish with a season total of 10,009 fish. All the fish were caught on artificial lures with over half of them being caught on the Rage Baby Craw or the Rage Menace on one of the Moaner jig hooks. Many of the colder water fish were caught on the Hair Jigs from JJ’s Jigs. Then there was the 3” Trick Stick from Alluring Baits, Top water with the Hubs Chubs, then the rest with jerk baits, crank baits, tube jigs, spinner baits, and other miscellaneous plastics. As you can see, we always target small mouth bass, the hardest fighting fish pound-for-pound in the river at least in my estimation. Some people say it’s the Musky and they do give a great fight but I said pound-for-pound. Compare a 15” smallmouth to a 15” musky fight – the smallie would win hands down. Now a 24” Musky is a great fight but could you just imagine a 24” smallie fight? All the rest of the fish were caught as we fished for the “smallies”. All the fish were caught from my one boat, and most importantly, all were immediately released for future fishing. You see there are many other fishermen out on the river just as good as I am, and I’m sure that some may be even better so if we all kept what we legally could, we would put a great hurt on the future population of quality breeder fish with just a few boats and there are more and more boats on the river every year. As a matter of fact, I won’t take a client out on a holiday weekend anymore because of all the crazy boaters that don’t know how to run the river safely and don’t know the meaning of boating etiquette. I would rather not fish at all than to subject my clients to a situation where I know we will most likely catch 25% fewer fish and all the aggravations that go with it due to “uninformed boaters,” and that’s about as “PC” as I can get right there. 

   Each year I give a free charter out to the team of clients that boat the most fish in a 10 hour period. This year the free charter goes out to the father and son team of Byron and Eric Mundy. It was their first trip with me and their first experience with Rage Baby Craws and LD Jig Spinners. The water was warm, 81 degrees to be exact so I took them to both deep water and a fast moving current. It had rained on and off in the morning, cooling the water a little bit, and the fish reacted to it well. We used the Rage Rig, which is a Rage Baby craw teamed up with a Moaner Stroker hook for the deeper water with a rocky bottom and when we went through the shallow, fast current we picked up our other rod which had the LD jig spinner on it. The combination of the two lures caught us 152 fish for the day. All were smallmouth bass except for 1 bluegill, 2 channel cats, and 2 walleyes for the day. You see you don’t really need to fish in the easy months of May or October to catch a lot of fish. You just need to fish the right spots with the proper lure presentations.

    So that’s about all I have for the last month of the year and at the risk of not being politically correct I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and God Bless America! Remember to practice catch and release for the future of our sport, boat safe, and I’ll see you “On The Water”.

For further reports, photos, and charter information, please visit me on my website at www.ldguideservice or on Facebook.