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Fishing the Susquehanna River has been on my bucket list for a couple years. I’ve watched videos of fishing this river and the outstanding smallmouth fishing it has to offer. My friends thought I was crazy living in South Louisiana wanting to drive 16 hours to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Part of me thought I was nuts. For one, I’ve never fished a river before, and secondly I’ve never fished for smallmouth before. To me fishing is fishing.

I recently upgraded by kayaking fleet with the Bite FD. I knew that kayak would be perfect to navigate that river. I just had to decide if I was going to float the river or put in at a specific launch spot and fish a certain area. I got up there Tuesday morning which would give me four days of scouting. I would need every minute of it. The first two days my scouting was terrible. I reached out to fellow teammate Matt Ball who has extensive knowledge fishing for smallmouth and this river just to pick his brain for some pointers.

The river was high the previous week and had fallen quite a bit and was still muddy in spots and clear in others. I fished sections of the river that had promise, but I hadn’t found many quality fish. On Thursday I had found a pattern and caught a few fish over 17″, but I would consistently need much bigger for a chance to win this tournament. My confidence wasn’t great, but it is understandable since I had zero experience up there.

Day one of the tournament I was excited with anticipation. That quickly dampened when I didn’t have any fish on the board and it was already 8:00am. Around 8:30 I had my first keeper fish, but it wasn’t big. I slowly picked away at them and had 78″ which isn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either. I was sitting in 56th place out of 139 anglers after day one and I was pretty much out of the tournament since they only pay out the top 14 places. I still had a chance at winning big bass for the tournament.

Day two I had to change tactics and fish much differently then I did on day one. I had a game plan, but wasn’t sure if it was going to work. I put in at the same launch and took off to an area I hadn’t fished the day before. I quickly missed a decent fish early. It didn’t bother me, but boosted my confidence. Shortly after I threw a topwater down a grass line and right before it got back to the kayak a nice smallmouth smoked the bait. Got her in the net and it was a solid 18.75″. That was a great start. Not long after I had another blow up on my topwater. She missed it. I threw right back and she got it the second time. This fish was even bigger at 19.15″.

My confidence was riding high. My bite slowed a little, but over the next 3 hours I caught 3 more fish with one being a giant at 20.25″. That fish was the biggest bass of the tournament, until the last couple hours when another angler edged me by .25″. I had 93.75″ and had the highest total for day 2 and it was only 10:30!! I caught several more fish with one more upgrade to give me 94.5″ and the highest total for the entire tournament. My friends were following the tournament online and were blowing up my phone. I was so pumped and was enjoying the moment.

The tournament ended and was currently in 13th place which is a huge jump from 56th place. There was still an hour for anglers to submit fish. I was nervous and anxiously waiting for the results. I had gotten a message from the tournament director that I had finished in 14th place and cut a check. To say I was excited was an understatement. Not only did I cut a check, I also won an award for biggest jump from day one to day two and an extra prize worth $250.

Winning a tournament is always my goal, but how I finished this tournament has got to be one of my best performances on the water. This river and its current is no joke and I respected it and my Bite FD performed flawlessly. I hope they decide to have another tournament on this river next year. If so, I will be back to improve on my performance. Till next time, tight lines!!!