Fast Susquehanna waters are must for fly fishing


"They're here. We caught a couple smallmouths to three pounds and saw several that looked to be about two pounds," said Ed Hunton, owner of Hunton's Rugged Outdoors.

Hunton is an avid fly angler and spends several afternoons each week fishing the fast waters of the Susquehanna River, downstream of Conowingo Dam. His quest is usually smallmouth bass, but he catches a variety of fish including white perch, channel catfish, yellow perch and largemouth bass.

Hunton is not alone in his fishing activities. This seasoned Susquehanna River angler utilizes fishing techniques successfully employed by veteran fly anglers Norm Bartlett and Norman Stinchcomb, who have been wet-wading the river for more than three decades. However, Bartlett Stinchcomb and Hunton recommend all river anglers, especially those wading the Susquehanna, wear some type of personal flotation device (PFD) and just to be on the safe side, never fish alone.

The most productive method of fishing the Susquehanna River during relatively low flow conditions is by wet-wading. Essentially, anglers wear an old pair of sneakers and use an inner-tube rig or Belly Boat, a device specifically designed for this purpose. They're available at most tackle shops, ranging in price from $35 to $150, depending on how elaborate you wish outfit the craft. Some rigs are equipped with a back rest, tackle compartments and rod holders; others are nothing more than a canvas seat and an inner tube.

Belly Boat anglers usually travel in pairs, driving separate vehicles, parking one at the launch site and the other at a predetermined take out point. On the Susquehanna, the launch site is usually a small boat ramp situated at the end of Shures Landing Road. The trip usually terminates either at the mouth of Deer Creek or Lapidum Landing, three to four miles downriver.

Anglers should be prepared to catch just about anything that swims, but for sheer fishing enjoyment, utilize the lightest fishing tackle possible.

Avid fly anglers find wet flies, nymphs and streamers frequently produce arm jolting strikes from one- to four-pound bronzebacks.

The flies should be cast upriver at a 45 degree angle, above and beyond fish holding structure such as projecting rocks and logs. Then retrieve it slowly with a slight twitching action, while constantly mending the line to avoid bellies or slack loops. Then, when the fish hits, don't hesitate, set the hook immediately.

In order to effectively fish the three-mile stretch of river between Conowingo Dam and Deer Creek, anglers should allow a minimum of four hours.

Before wading into the fast flowing waters of the Susquehanna, it's imperative that anglers first obtain information pertaining to power generation at Conowingo Dam.

In order to keep anglers apprised of river conditions, Philadelphia Electric Co. has installed a Fisherman's Hotline that provides information on water flow and fishing. Call (410) 457-4076.

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