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Smallmouth And Crayfish...

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I had a conversation with another angler on the river yesterday and simply couldn't make sense of this shared observation:

Susquehanna River smallmouth almost always have cray fish in their stomachs, whether you cut them open or simply feel around. This isn't a surprise because the river is packed with them. However, using them as live bait in the river is extremely slow fishing, and they're outperformed by stone cats and helgramites (clippers) beyond comparison. Has anyone else noticed this? Thoughts? Explanation?

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Could it be that the crawfish take much longer to digest because of the exoskeleton? Even if a fish didn't eat crawfish often, it would be in their stomach for longer than a more easily digestible prey.

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Could it be that the crawfish take much longer to digest because of the exoskeleton? Even if a fish didn't eat crawfish often, it would be in their stomach for longer than a more easily digestible prey.

Really good thought imo.

 

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Definitely an interesting thought, but it's strange to think that even if that were the case, they'd be more willing to deal with the spines on a stone cat than the slow digestion of the crayfish.

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The main reason live craws don't work very well in a river is the presentation.

Then tend to ball up in current and look like stinkbait. Minnows are a much

better option.

 

 

 

:fishing-026:

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You can't really cover water with a craw. It doesn't have the attracting quality of a lively fish. When a craw is on a hook it doesn't act normally. I never had much luck with a craw on a hook, but a craw with no hook scoots around and the bass nail it. You would have to fish it in an area you know there is bass. I would say give it up and use a tube and rebel craw crankbait instead.

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Rebel craws work great for smallies in the current river in MO. I normally fish with them exclusively

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I never thought much about the craw behavior once it's hooked. Over the years, I've had a lot of success with craw imitations (Crankbaits, soft plastic craws, tubes, etc) in locations where just casts prior with a live crawfish I'd gotten nothing. I guess, this also says something about the ridiculous resiliency of a hooked clipper or stone cat.

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Your craw is also now 1 in a million. A Helgramite, is a bit more of an oddity/treat.

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Where on the Susquehanna do you fish?!

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Where on the Susquehanna do you fish?!

I grew up near Wilkes-Barre and still try to get up that way to fish the north branch whenever I can.

We did a drift from Tunkhannok (White's Ferry Launch) all the way down to Apple Tree Rd Harding yesterday. Not a great day for size (a bit frustrating), but I took a friend out who's never fished a river for smallies. We put 20+ in the boat and missed another 10-15 on 9 or 10 different lures. I lost one well over 15 around 7:15 or so on a Skitter Pop.

Where do you typically get on the river?

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I'm right around the Harrisburg area fishing along TMI. 

 

It's been pretty bad as of late as far as results. I'm getting frustrated! 

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Thanks for the education guys. I've thought about using live craws, but after reading this thread, I think I'll sitck to craw lures instead of actual crawfish.

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When fishing with a live craw, I put a rubber band around the tail and slip the hook under the rubber band. The craw acts more natural that way. Still, i prefer artificial lures.

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I fish the Susquehanna a lot all year until it freezes and if it doesn't freeze then all the better. I'll tell you exactly why you see helgramites and stone cats working better than craws as live bait and it isn't hard to understand. The Susquehaa became a world class smallmouth fishery because the place is a crawfish factory and when it comes to craws, smallmouth feed on them at leisure. Helgamites and stone cats on the other hand are only available during certain times, like rapidly rising water will force stone cats to move and it will dislodge helgramites and when they are out the smallmouth go into a feeding spree. So when you put a stone cat or helgramite on a hook and  begin working a hole, any smallmouth in the area will take advantage of the easy meal, but a crawfish can be had anytime and unless it is right in front of the fish that it doesn't have to move to get it, you won't get bit unless that fish is actively feeding.

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Every time I see a discussion about bass and crayfish I think of this video where the bass spin the crayfish around before eating them to make sure the pinchers don't go down first.

 

https://youtu.be/jLwAg7_ezNE

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I'm right around the Harrisburg area fishing along TMI. 

 

It's been pretty bad as of late as far as results. I'm getting frustrated!

We've been crushing numbers, but haven't gotten any monsters. I've been taking friends out that have never seriously fished or have never fished rivers for smallmouth and basically guiding them on drifts, so getting them on fish has been more important than me catching 4lbers. That said, I'd really love some 4lbers.

Tubes and craw imitations have been really consistent producers this summer, but I've also noticed a lot of the better fish I've had on the river have come via perch pattern Crankbaits and poppers.

I'm really hoping to get on the water more out your way next summer after I'm recovered from back surgery.

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Every time I see a discussion about bass and crayfish I think of this video where the bass spin the crayfish around before eating them to make sure the pinchers don't go down first.

 

https://youtu.be/jLwAg7_ezNE

d**n. That is a really cool video.

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