Summer Smallies & My Favorite Crayfish Pattern

When I wasn’t chasing carp in early August, I was chasing smallmouth bass on the Schuylkill River and the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers. A majority of the bass I’ve been catching have been in the 8"-10" range, and their numbers are surprising. Like I mentioned in a post back in July, I think there’s a lot of promise for smallmouth fishing in Pennsylvania, specifically on the Juniata and Susquehanna. One recent trip that went against the small bass trend was one I made to the Susquehanna just south of Selinsgrove off of Rt. 11/15. There are many great access points along this stretch of river that follows the highway from Duncannon to the split of the river in Northumberland. One of these access points is the Hoovers Island parking lot at the confluence of Penns Creek. There are hundreds of yards of wadeable river here that don’t see a lot of fishing pressure.

 My most successful crayfish pattern for the summer of 2016. 

My most successful crayfish pattern for the summer of 2016. 

I arrived at the Hoovers Island lot early morning and fished the lower half of Penns that continues for 50 yards below the parking lot. I was throwing a crayfish pattern that has been very successful for me this summer. The pattern comes from the Knot Just Flies fishing shop in Blairstown, New Jersey. I think this pattern uses perfect colors for enticing Susquehanna smallmouth. The rubber legs give the fly great movement in the water as well. On one of the first few casts, I watched a large smallmouth come cruising out of the stained water of Penns in chase. I stopped my retrieve and let the fly sit on the bottom. And as with many bass, he couldn’t help his curiosity and inhaled my fly. This was the biggest bass I’ve caught all summer. I estimated him to be 17”.

 The big smallmouth I caught at the confluence of Penns and the Susquehanna.

The big smallmouth I caught at the confluence of Penns and the Susquehanna.

With the low water I was able to walk across the west side of the river to Hoovers Island and fish the bank water. I lost count of how many smaller bass I caught on the crayfish pattern.  I don’t care what anyone says, 10” smallmouth are fun on the fly rod. Once I reached the lower half of the island, I headed back across the river and found some deeper water. Along with seeing several trophy-sized channel cats (I’m talking 30+”) swimming in the main current I also spotted some large smallmouth cruising. I started dead drifting the crayfish pattern in the current and hooked into a good bass. It took a while to land this fish in the current, but once landed it end up being only a couple inches smaller in size compared to the bass I’d caught earlier in the morning. While not in the numbers you’d want to see, it is still nice to know that there are some big bass cruising. I worked my way upriver back to the mouth of Penns Creek and caught some small bass along the way. By lunchtime the temps were in the low 90s and I called it a day.

 The nice smallie I caught as I walked back across the river from Hoovers Island.

The nice smallie I caught as I walked back across the river from Hoovers Island.

Here are some images from my recent smallmouth trips.