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MontclairDave

Upper Delaware River

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Not sure how many of you fish these waters--I'm new to the forums--but figured I'd give a quick report on my last float trip down this gorgeous river. We put in about 10 miles north of Port Jervis, NY--a stretch of river that gets very little traffic. Very low water conditions = smallies concentrated along the many rock ledges that line the right side of the river (looking downstream). Caught about 20 bass in four hours, which is frankly a SLOW bite in this river. Usually I get 90% of my fish on Gitzit or Zoom coffee tubes, but this day they turned their noses at those offerings; all they wanted was 4" Senkos wacky rigged. (By the way, VMC weedless wacky hooks had BAD hookup ratio. Switched to Gammy octopus hooks, not weedless, and stuck and landed lots more fish, with very few snags.)

None of the fish were very big: 1-2 lbers. All the big boys (girls!?) were visibly stacked on the bottom in deeper drop offs, but I couldn't seem to get my tubes down to them....jig weight (1/8 oz) too light I guess. Switched to a jig/craw combo (1/4) but that didn't get down there either. Current I guess. (I'm not that experienced with river fishing--my third or fourth trip ever--so I look forward to learning more techniques as I get more time on the river. )

A bonus on the day: saw a few bald eagles directly overhead. Awesome birds...wingspan had to be nearly 8 feet across. Had no idea how frigging big those birds are! Pretty effing awesome day. 

 

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Welcome to the forum!  Bald eagles are absolutely massive and pretty awesome to watch dive on the river.  I see them pretty regularly when I make trips to the Susquehanna and am pretty constantly amazed by how efficiently they'll spot shallow fish and critters on the shoreline.  

 

That stretch you're fishing is mostly trout water, no?  Most of the folks I know that head up that way are tossing flies for big rainbows and browns.   How deep were you seeing the smallies and what were you fishing the river out of?  When I know they're holding in more than 3' of water, (colder water like the north end of the Delaware), I favor stuff I can walk across the bottom like football jig or heavier tube, and won't shy away from throwing 3/8-1/2oz in 4' of water if the current calls for it.  With jigs (or any bottom contact bait) in faster current, it's very important to keep it dragging on the bottom and not allowing it to get up in the faster current and drift.  Because of this, slowly stroking or dragging the jig with the rod is extremely important - moving it with the reel will pull it off the bottom and get it up in the current.  Also, to make following this much easier, I really like having visible braid with a hybrid leader that I can follow and mend when need be.  The catch to the braid, though, is that it will create more drag in the current by floating on top than a sinking line like flourocarbon.   Your casting angle and the way it sets up your presentation can make a huge difference in effectively working baits in fast/moderate current.  I very strongly suggest reading up on basic dry fly and nymph presentations even if you never intend on picking up the whippy stick because  they'll teach you a TON about how to make current work for you versus  against you. 

Good luck and post results from your next trip!

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They were holding in about 10 feet of water. And I was using braid, so it's floating tendency may indeed have been part of the problem. And I was definitely using reel and probably jigging too vertically as opposed to the technique you described, using the rod to drag the bait and keep it on bottom, below the current. That sounds like a great technique to try.

as for the water, I'm sure there are big browns and rainbows in there,  and it does have a reputation for great trout catches. But the smallie fishery is also top notch. That's at least what we were targeting. I've caught a few small trout in the shallowe riffles with small inline spinners when targeting smallies, so I know they're there! 

If you have any links or suggestions for reading up on fly fish drifting techniques for rivers that I could apply to spinning, please send.

trying to get back on river for one more trip: I think this weekend is the last that my fav outfitter puts boats on the water. (We were using a canoe to drift.) 

tight lines!

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There are tons of books on the subject.  Bob Clouser and John Tertuliani have several books out on smallmouth fishing in streams, but I'd check out any books on nymphing and presenting dry flies for Trout.  Chris Hansen's fly fishing for beginners covers some basics on different presentations for nymphs and dry flies,  Orvis has a video channel that covers some pretty solid basics on YouTube, also.  

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