Do you love big bluegill?
Every so often I have a fishing trip that will remain in my memory for a long, long time. I can't say forever, as I haven't reached that stage in my life yet. I can remember unbelievable catch rate trips, first fish trips, and of course everyone remembers big fish trips. Today's trip doesn't fall into any of those trip types. In all actuality, the fishing was below average. The company however was top shelf material.
I was to meet an indivual I knew only through the www. world. I was late in getting to our planned meeting location.
Luckily, he was later.
It was my responsibilty to get him to a section of the Susquehanna River he had never been to before, and show him a fishery that had taken a nose dive over the last two weeks. The odds were certainly not in my favor.
The conversation flowed rather easily as we prepared ourselves for a day of bluegill fishing...........well, at least I was preparing for the bluegills. Jim Gronaw had smallmouth bass on his mind, and was planning a sneak attack before we ever left the parking area in the Saginaw area of the Susquehanna River warmwater flow. I had a travel route planned out in my head, one that took us past the same locations I had come to learn held panfish at all times of the day. They all had a few things in common: they were deeper then the surrounding areas, had a slower flow then the main channel, and they all had a soft bottom with sparse rock and/or wood structure.
We spent a good deal of time at our first stop, doing the best we could to figure out what was going to work the best for the day. We probed the bottom with jigs, and floated the middle water column with live bait and jigs under a float. A few bluegills were caught (nothing of any size to speak of), and the first indication the trip was going to be a multi-species trip - a small channel catfish.
We spent the rest of the morning moving from area to area with high hopes that each spot would be better then the last.
I had forgetton my clicker when we left the vehicles, so once I had used all my fingers I gave up trying to keep count. It was slightly easier keeping track of Jim's fish count.
Once we finished covering the areas known to me to hold fish, we decided to probe some water downstream that I had fished in the past w/o much to show for. While I managed to put another species into our day, the panfish didn't appear to find the faster, rockier water as appealing as what we had left behind.
Finally giving in to the fact the only way we were going to stop practicing our casting and get back to catching, was to return to where the fish were. The only problem now was getting back..................
A hike through uncharted woods, a climb up a rocky railroad bed, and a long hike back to the vehicles had us taking a hint from a local resident we had seen earlier:
After a short break, Jim and I headed to the same areas we had fished a few hours previously. Now is when it started getting interesting. While Jim had voiced his desire to fish for some smallmouth bass, he really didn't stray from the panfishing. I didn't want him to feel left out, so I took a few minutes to show him how the Strad handles a 12" smallmouth on 2lb line and a micro jig. Then, on the next few, consecutive casts showed him how well it presented the same bait to bluegill - the bigger ones:
After I felt enough punishment was dished out, I stepped aside and gave Jim a chance to enjoy himself. It was at this time I learned a very, very valuable lesson - Do not, under any circumstance, give a guy that has caught 2lb. 'gills any tongue-in-cheek jabs about catching small bluegill! They pull out that, "The 2lb. 'gills I caught at......." card without any warning. It comes out swiftly and with enough force to move you out of hearing range.
Obviously a day of catching catfish, chubs, rockbass, smallmouth bass, RBSxBG hybrids, and bluegill with an individual that I'm extremely proud to call a friend will remain in my memory for a long, long time
Thank you Mr. Gronaw for a great day on the water!! I can only hope I will have the opportunity again.