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Old 08-21-2009, 12:06 PM
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Fish Tank Fish Tank is offline
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Location: NEPA
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Default First Report: Susquahanna North Branch 09/20/09

Eddy Rider and I got out for a recon day trip yesterday. As many of you in the region know, we've had above normal percipitation this summer. Due to the elevated water volume and flow rate, coupled with coffe & creme colored water the Susquehanna river in our range was not only unproductive to fish, but also borderline dangerous. So those of you who have been in touch to get out with us, the river is fishing and it's now worth the time. Read on...

So as we kept an eye on a perpetually refreshed flow data page we took advantage of a window of oppurtunity to recon an area of the river. Yesterday was go time.

It always seems that there is an obstacle to overcome to get where we're going.



Yep, the river is right there, just down the road, behind the 4ton tree laying across our path...

So, Eddy Rider and I briefly weighed our options, and I said "drag it out". He found his tow strap and we proceeded to hook it up...



Well, for as big as ER's rig is, and as much balls as it has, the mass of the tree coupled with the force of gravity stymied the torque of the rig in
4Low. That tree wasn't going anywhere, but did serve to demonstrate why a chainsaw needs to travel in the rig with us.

We wanted at that launch and Eddy Rider has been parking trailers since he could reach gas pedals, so he said he'll just go around it. I said I'll take a picture...



He got the trailer and rig through and we unloaded and rigged.



For the time being we fish out of sit-in yaks. Here's an overview of my rigging followed by Eddy Rider's...







At this point we're paddeling. Our game plan was to canvas the area looking for a pattern. We paddled upcurrent from the launch with our destination being the mouth of a medium sized tributary creek. There's the saying "One never steps in the same stream twice...", well, upon coming around a bend in the river we saw how true that is...



Here's a little bit better than 180deg perspective on the structure...



Eddy Rider saw that and went right for it...



I on the other hand was on a mission to catch with the flyrod and dial in one of my favorite spots. So I headed to the creek mouth. There's an area at the outflow that flyfishes best on foot. So I threw the long rod for a bit and hooked this...



I know a real monster, right!?! I'd like to mention at this point that when we are on a multi-night trip, I do actually target trout sized fallfish {that's not a sucker, it's Pa's largest growing creek chub, to 18"} because that becomes cut bait for a catfish dinner or for deadsticking campside, while unwinding before bedding down.

Eddy Rider made his way up into the creek, which was gin clear. The river proper was running muddy, but fishable. After I didn't find much at my out flow junction, I hopped back in the yak and caught up with ER as he was coming back down the creek.

He had success on some decent smallies. Here's one I saw him catch, he will post the other images he got...



After I grabbed that image, I switched to my smallmouth rod. That is a 6' medium light action rod, coupled with a stradic4000 . Spooled with 20#tensile braid, and I had it leader to a 20" shot of 2x mono, approxiamtely 12# tensile. It was served to the running line via a uni-to-uni knot, and at the terminal end is a small duo-lock.

That rod tames smallmouth with out question. I headed to the area where the cloudy river was mixing with the gin clear feeder stream. The "mud line" was shifting on the seam due to a fairly stiff westerly blowing into the mouth of the creek. I attached a 10' running, bomber crank bait, and proceeded to cast upcurrent into the river proper and run it down to the bottom while dragging it through the mud seam, into the feeder channel. In normal years that area has heavy weed mats. This year it is free of the vegetation due to scouring, and low light transmition due to turbidity.

My rationale was to run the crank into the rocky bottom and move it quickly while it was bouncing off the rocks. With visibilty being greatly reduced I figured that a smallie sitting in ambush would hear and feel it coming. The concept worked but on the wrong species...



I threw about three casts digging the crank into the ground pretty much screaming it back to the yak. The next thing I know the lure stops, and I laid into it. I felt some give and figured it was either a good fish or a tree branch I was able to move. I leaned on the rod as hard as I could and kept cranking til I heard the drag give, and leaned some more. Eventually I felt the fish shake it's head, and it took off on a decent burst. I gained on him while leaning hard on the rod. The next thing I know the fish swirls under the surface. In the off colored muddy water which caused the fish to have a golden hue, I initially thought I snagged a carp. I turned the fish and our eyes met. It was no question a thick musky.

Imiediately my eyes were on its face trying to find the lure. The battle wasn't even close to having a conclusion, and I wanted to have a handle on where I stood. When it turned to run again I saw the crank's front hooks embedded in the top corner of its jaw, and the back hooks had a lock in its cheek. Having first hand experience pushing a these exact hooks through ER's finger cause a smallie got him, I knew unless the line gave the lure wasn't going anywhere.

The fish took four solid runs, each starting right next to the yak. Man can their tails pump water at you!!! I was drenched. In reality I should have lost it. I had my bogas on the beach for surf launch and they got sand in them. I forgot to rinse them before the trip. So the first time I had the fish up, the bogas opened, but they didn't close. With one hand leaning on the rod, I used my other to swirl the bogas through the water to clear them. After two more tries, where I had the boga jaw in the fishes' jaw, and it didn't close, the fourth time was the trick, and the "ugly fish" was in my control.

The fight was relatively short lived for the gear it was hooked on. I had put so much pressure on the fish, with a heavy drag, and gained on it immidiately after every burst, that I don't think the fight lasted 5minutes.

We got a few quick images, and the fish was released from the bogas when it was reoriented, and well oxygenated from a brief, kayak side, rest. It swam off but not after soaking me again with a thrust of its tail. GOOD TIMES!!!

After that we decided to do lunch and ER pulled out the cookware and we enjoyed a Rahmen medley, where we take a few different flavors and mix them together.

We then headed down stream to the mouth of another creek and proceeded to dial that in. ER went up into this stocked trout creek and had trout and smallies fight over his spinner. I stayed at the mouth with the yaks, and again worked the mud line. Right after this image was taken...



Pods of 10"-12" smallies were marauding bait stacked against the gravel bar dropoff. I had steady "blitz" action with the fly rod on smallmouth for about an hour.

Eventually the sun went down and we had to pull the yaks to get home but not before we fired the stove up and had chicken noodle alfredo.

So that's a recap on yesterdays recon day trip. As it looks now we're runnin' Monday-Tuesday, so we'll be back with a report.

Don't be strangers here, and if you have any questions regarding multi-night kayakfishing trips, that's one of our fortes. Give us a shout!!!

Tightlines and Safe Paddlin'!!!


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Old 08-21-2009, 06:23 PM
CraigS's Avatar
CraigS CraigS is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northern NJ
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Default Holy Hank!

That is one fine musky you caught there Hank - excellent job as always

Very glad to hear the river is cooperating so that you & ER can get out there and do your stuff.

Talk to you soon,
Craig
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