Trip Report: Smallmouth on Pennsylvania's Upper Susquehanna River

A couple of weekends ago I finally took the plunge. All spring and summer, my colleagues here at F&S have been raving about the smallmouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. I convinced my 24-year-old son, James, to go with me, so we packed up the car and headed west, past Scranton, to the town of Tunkhannock. There we met our friends Gary and Robin Edwards. That's James with Gary and Robin, at their campsite.Jay Cassell
The campground is right on the river. Most campsite owners leave their trailers there all summer, then move them after Labor Day.Jay Cassell
Saturday afternoon, we headed out with Gary's buddy, George Davailus. George has had a trailer at the campsite for more than 10 years, and fishes the river every weekend, spring through fall. If anyone knows the Susquehanna in these parts, it's George. He has an 18-foot Bass Tracker, with a jet outboard - perfect for the river, especially in low water.Jay Cassell
We fished near the Proctor and Gamble factory, six miles upriver. The Susquehanna was high and muddy, thanks to heavy rains up north in New York State, but had actually come down almost a foot by the time we got there.
Here's James with his first smallmouth of the day.Jay Cassell
There were herons all over the river.Jay Cassell
We also spotted this bald eagle. They use the same nests every year, I'm told.Jay Cassell
That's me with my first smallmouth - not a giant, but it broke the ice. (Speaking of ice, I wish we had brought along a ton of it. The air temperature was over 90, with high humidity.)Jay Cassell
Gary with a decent smallmouth. He fished with tube lures most of the afternoon, while James and I switched between them and crawfish-imitating crankbaits.Jay Cassell
What a pretty river. Besides smallmouths, it also has muskies...
...and walleyesJay Cassell
The temps finally got too hot - we had to get out and wade.Jay Cassell
This contraption landed near us while we were fishing. That looks like tons of fun.Jay Cassell
Not long after that, a kayak hatch appeared on the water.Jay Cassell
Fishing from 3 until dark, we took about 20 bass total. George didn't fish much - but if he had, we would probably have doubled that. Check out George's terminal tackle box.Jay Cassell
Next day, heavy fog socked in the river, and we didn't get out until about 8 o'clock. Some other boats were also taking off then.Jay Cassell
James nailed the biggest smallie of the trip, a 16-incher. That fished fought and jumped like crazy - one of the reasons why smallmouth fishing is so much fun.Jay Cassell
George took this one on a green tube lure dipped in garlic scent. For some reason--muddy water?--the green tube lure caught more than the blue one, even when we put scent on both of them.Jay Cassell
I also tried using some Yamamoto Senko lures, but with no luck.Jay Cassell
Gary with another one.Jay Cassell
Here's one James took on a plastic crawdad imitation. By noon, James and I had to hit the road back home. Total fish count for the morning was easily more than 30 (not that I'm counting). The guys at work were right - this smallmouth fishing is tons of fun. Gary used to guide for steelhead on the Salmon River in upstate New York. He's doing some limited guiding on the Susquehanna for smallmouths, if you're interested. The fishing is good right up until the end of October. Contact him at [gary@vacationsonthe fly.com](mailto:gary@vacationsonthe fly.com).Jay Cassell