BY DAVE LEWONCZYK
With recent warm weather, the urge to get out on the water is very strong. While I like to wait until the water gets into the 50-degree range, colder is better than nothing. I usually compensate for the cold water by slowing down my retrieves.
Some of the best fishing can be found on the rivers right now. The main considerations right now are depth, current and water clarity.
If you own a bass boat and have never fished the Susquehanna River, my advice is don’t go. The river can fluctuate so much from day to day that it is littered with props and lower units from novice river fishermen.
Even if you own a small boat and you don’t fish the river on a regular basis, my advice is to hire a guide. There are plenty of guides on the river and the cost of their service is cheaper than repairs to your motor or hull.
Added to that, the better ones will put you on fish all day. While hiring a guide can be daunting, word of mouth is the best way to hire one. If the person you are asking is not very enthusiastic about the guide, look for another one.
I know plenty of fishermen who own smaller boats and are knowledgeable about the river who still hire a guide. The better ones have boats that are comfortable, safe and they even provide you with equipment to fish.
Last year, I had the good fortune to fish with a great guide. I spent a day with Allen Casal, who owns and operates Al’s Susquehanna Guide Service. We fished out of a large, comfortable jet boat, and with the modern electronics he had, we didn’t encounter one rock. That’s something in the section we were fishing because it was really shallow, and with a prop motor, I’m sure we would have been disabled in the first hour.
Don’t know what to bring? No problem. Casal has enough equipment to outfit everyone on the boat. In case you are wondering, it is all top-notch equipment.
What surprised me is Casal not only nets the fish, he took them off the hook.
If you are considering booking a trip, you had better do it right away. Casal is a popular guide and gets booked up early. You can reach him at 570-241-2211.
If you are still determined to go it alone, you should always check the river depth before venturing out. Some areas are so shallow to begin with that a low level could make it impossible to fish.
As far as lures are concerned, at this time of year, I wouldn’t leave home without spinner baits, swim baits and hair jigs. I have never tried chatter baits on the river, but I would assume they would be productive now, especially if the water is cloudy or muddy in the area you are fishing.
The one advantage to fishing at this time of year is the chance at a trophy fish in the daytime. Later in the year, the larger bass especially go to feeding at night.
The one thing I would suggest, no matter what size boat you are fishing from, is to wear your life vest at all times. In this cold water, your ability to swim will be hampered. With the self-inflating life vests on the market today, I consider it a no-brainer. I wear mine every time I go on the water. I don’t even know I have it on and I feel better.
I fell in 50-degree water, and believe me, any inconvenience you think the vest presents, is negated.