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JediAmoeba

Help with River Tackle

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I need some help, or maybe just a reassuraance... So each year, twice a year, some family and friends go on a river floating trip down the Delaware river for most of the day.  That is coming up soon.  If you know the area, we float down to Matamoras NY mainly relaxing and drinking on a big inflatable raft.  The river through that section varies in size and but is usually pretty clear and relatively quick.  

 

I usually catch between 20-40 smallies but they are always dinks.  For the most part out of 20 people I am the only one fishing and we have 6 or more rafts tethered together so stopping when you get to a good hole is rarely an option so you have to maximize your casts and hit the breakpoints dead on to drift your bait by...  

 

I usually use 4-5" Senkos wacky rigged and throw on some weight if necessary.  I also take various jigs for when we stop and I can make some casts without blowing by the spot.  I also throw some squarebill cranks but they rarely produce anything.  The time I caught the most ever was when I used ballhead jigs with curly tail grubs.

 

The forage is anything and everything as the shad and crawfish are plentiful so you can throw white or natural colors.  I really want to catch one with size this time around.  We have been doing this for 10 years and I experimented with buzzbaits and spinnerbaits but they didn't produce anything.  

 

Should I try something else?  Upsize to a 7 inch worm?  Try flukes?  Large cranks?  I feel I have started to get in a rut and want to get out and catch some fish with size.  Last year the river was high so I threw bucktails all day for musky and was skunked...so I don't want to get skunked again.  Or should I just go with what I have done in the past knowing I will catch fish?

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Never been to that river.   Sounds like you have already got a good amount of knowledge about how to fish and catch bass there.  But the one thing that I'd do different is get out of the party raft and into a kayak.  I've gone on river floats with friends in rafts or tubes and me in a kayak.  We're all a lot happier.  I can stop and fish the good holes, and then catch up when they park to drink or play.  

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I've done that float a few times, and have camped and fished along the Delaware as well, all be it not in quite some time. If you are going to be floating and casting with no stopping along the way at deeper pools, eddies, and other structure, a curly grub, swim jig or wacky plastic as you are already doing is probably the best you can do. You may luck on a good one, but most likely they will be dinks, the river is full of them. I would suggest dedicated fishing trips, if you are trying to fish it properly.

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I’ve said this on here many times before. The baits you are throwing is not the problem. Guys want to believe there is some “magic” bait that will suddenly be the difference between what they’ve done in the past that will now mean lots of big fish. 

Big fish didn’t get big by being careless. A group of 20 floating downriver is going to make a lot of noise and spook the bigger, more wary fish. Like Choporoz said, you need to get away from the flotilla. Get a couple hundred yards ahead before they get spooked. Bigger fish are often in the same spots where you caught the dinks. The little fish are often more aggressive and jump on your bait before the bigger, more cautious fish. Stop and fish the spots where you got one and keep working the area

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2 hours ago, Scott F said:

I’ve said this on here many times before. The baits you are throwing is not the problem. Guys want to believe there is some “magic” bait that will suddenly be the difference between what they’ve done in the past that will now mean lots of big fish. 

Big fish didn’t get big by being careless. A group of 20 floating downriver is going to make a lot of noise and spook the bigger, more wary fish. Like Choporoz said, you need to get away from the flotilla. Get a couple hundred yards ahead before they get spooked. Bigger fish are often in the same spots where you caught the dinks. The little fish are often more aggressive and jump on your bait before the bigger, more cautious fish. Stop and fish the spots where you got one and keep working the area

This stretch of river gets thousands of rafters, canoers, kayakers and tourists daily in the summer so the commotion doesn't seem to bother the fish.  You are right though, I need to hone in on those areas that the fish are...I will look into a kayak but I believe they have those sit in ones that won't allow me to have extra stuff on it.  

 

2 hours ago, Choporoz said:

Never been to that river.   Sounds like you have already got a good amount of knowledge about how to fish and catch bass there.  But the one thing that I'd do different is get out of the party raft and into a kayak.  I've gone on river floats with friends in rafts or tubes and me in a kayak.  We're all a lot happier.  I can stop and fish the good holes, and then catch up when they park to drink or play.  

I really want to take my kayak and go on the river but it's an hour away and I don't have anyone to piggy back with...  The last time I went by myself on the river I had to wait 6 hours for my wife to show up and take me back to my car - it was a fiasco.  So as much as I want to go on the river by myself it just isn't feasible.  That's disappointing too because there are some great opportunities if you have a someone else.  

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3 minutes ago, JediAmoeba said:

This stretch of river gets thousands of rafters, canoers, kayakers and tourists daily in the summer so the commotion doesn't seem to bother the fish. 

If it doesn't bother the fish, you should be getting something besides dinks.

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Many of the outfitters will offer you a pick up or delivery service even if you use your own yak.

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I live in NY and fish a similar river.  I use small tubes with a high success rate.  The bait does matter but the location matters more.  In my experience shallow flats hold more smaller fish and rarely anything of size.  Where i do best is in pockets on the down stream side of forks or islands and anytime there is a big boulder breaking the current.  Large chunk rock banks can be good especially in bends.  A tube jig (2.75" green pumpkin with a light 1/8oz-3/16oz internal head) has been successful for me to upsize average fish size from inline spinners and grubs.  I never had much success with senkos on my river.

 

2 other things you should try.  A hellgrammite soft plastic on a drop shot with a shorter drop (~6") and a whopper plopper 90.  I have caught some good ones on both of those as well.  

 

Scott F is right about the party barge though,  it will spook the bigger fish.  that is just a fact.  if you can make long casts to targets that could help with that.

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I do my best in these situations with small square bills(1.5"), #6 X Raps, and 4" Zoom Flukes.  I catch both dinks and bigs on the same baits.  I haven't found any correlation between a certain bait style/size and size of fish caught.  If anything, I tend to do better on the smallest baits I can throw, even for bigger fish.

 

Edit:  The chunky smallmouth in my profile pic was caught on a Bomber Square A, probably their shad color.  The 1 & 5/8" size.

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