Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anthracite Outfitters August 22 & 23 2011 trip and report

With recent weather in the Northeast and everything that has come with it, the reports have fallen behind, I appreciate your patience while I try and get caught up.  Anthracite Outfitters  attention has been directed towards those that were affected by Irene and then by the massive floods that recently happened from the remnants of TS Lee here in Northeastern PA.

Family friends and acquaintances have lost much from the flooding even with some friends having completely lost their homes, nowhere to be seen and washed away clean to the ground.

This report is from an overnight trip on the Susquehanna River on August 22 & 23.  The second day of the trip was actually the day that the earthquake hit in Virginia.  Just before lunch on that Tuesday we were slammed with phone calls from friends and family asking of we had felt the tremors while on the river, we didn’t and our trip finished up nicely.

Our trip started out with a mid-day start in order to get the most out of the weather and the river between our launch and campsite. 

We stopped for lunch at the mouth of a feeder stream and the guys worked the structure while I prepared lunch so that we could fuel up for the afternoon bite.

The timing was going to place in the area called the “Boulder Garden” towards the late afternoon when the cloud cover was slated to move into the area.  I wanted to be under the cloud cover as we drifted into and through the boulder strewn area of the river, hoping that the change would turn on the bite, it did just that.

The hits started out fast and furious for Tony, Carl and I with close to 40 smallmouth coming within an hour time frame and almost a fish on every cast.  The average size was around 13” and we had some fish pushing 16”+, not huge, but an absolutely solid bite and hot action.  The clouds, structure and fish all came together at the right time.

We finally made it to our island campsite and I set camp for the night and we settled in around the fire and then into our tents for a deserved nights rest on the river.

The next day started with pancake breakfast and then on the river we went.  The day was clear, warm and the bite was a bit slower than the day before, but we managed to land fish and enjoy the day.

Right before we stooped for our hot chicken wrap lunch, Tony landed another nice smallmouth.  Coincidentally the timing of this fish was right about the same time the earthquake hit Virginia and was felt all the way up here in Northeatsern PA.  When we stopped for lunch right after the fish was released is exactly the time that all of our collective cell phones had begun to ring non-stop with the news about the quake.

This pic was taken in the wrong settings and was completely blown out, so this is the best I could get it.

The guys truly enjoyed their trip and will be making this an annual event for these fishing partners.  The Susquehanna River never failed to provide a great angling experience accompanied by great vistas and good company.

The Hobie Quest’s shined again and as great river kayakfishing platforms, while the Ocean Trident 15 performed like the workhorse that it is, carrying all the gear that we needed to enjoy ourselves and then some.

This has been one of the toughest seasons that I have had on the Susquehanna River, muddy water, high water, record breaking floods and what has seemed like endless ran showers and thunder storms all season long.....

This trip was a great time, spent with great guys on an awesome river and really that is all that we could have asked for. Tight Lines!

Capt. Daniel Hubbard
Anthracite Outfitters

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anthracite Outfitters 8-12-2011 Susquehanna River Kayakfishing Trip and Report

This past weekend Anthracite Outfitters was lucky to get out on the river with a longtime friend for an overnight trip that we had planned for a year.  My buddy Jason had flown in from Calif. to see family and decided to take an extra day from traveling to try out kayak fishing on the Susquehanna River on an overnight adventure that would take us down about 12 miles of river and camping under the full moon….

The bite has been tough with the water being stained and slightly dirty for pretty much the whole summer and free time coming at a premium this year has just stacked the deck against my personal angling time on the river this summer, so needless to say I was excited to see an old friend and hit the river…

We launched later in the day and traversed through the boulder strewn area that is called the “Boulder Garden”as the sun had begun to set.  We managed to land a bunch of smallies in the 10” to 12” range and landed a few in the 16”+ range.

We pulled the Hobie’s up on the island and proceeded to make camp for the night.  The Hobie Outback and Quest have really proven themselves over the last few seasons to be excellent fishing kayaks on the river, carrying more than enough gear and providing perfect angling platforms in the shallow and sometimes very rocky Susquehanna River.

Unfortunately one of the larger fish was mortally hooked by the stinger hook on the spinnerbait that he inhaled and was harvested.  I practice C & R with all smallmouth, but just saw no sense in tossing him back only to die within minutes, he just wasn’t going to make it..

We used my favorite campsite on an island in the river that is below a high ridge line that shields the sun until about 11am in the morning and the moon as well until it is high in the sky at night.  The full moon rose above the ridge around midnight and turned the river into an almost seemingly daylight fishing experience, but really shut the bite down in the same respect.

This image was captured at about 1am.

This image was captured at 2:30am from the campsite.

The following day we awoke to a pancake breakfast and really enjoyed our float down river to the vehicle enjoying the peace and quiet that only the river can give.  Just before our exit point we ended up picking up a few more smallmouth in another larger boulder area with some deeper water.

Smaller swimbaits and white spinnerbaits were the ticket and the fish are holding tough in the ripples and rapids behind the rocks on the down river side looking for that oxygen rich water that is naturally being cooled through the elevation drops and rapids and waiting for the food that is being transported down river through the small current seams and food conveyor belts that snake through and around the rocks and boulders on the river bottom. 

This was the best trip so far in 2011 for Anthracite Outfitters, shared with a great longtime friend over two spectacular days on the Susquehanna River here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Capt. Dan Hubbard
Owner:  Anthracite Outfitters LLC

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Anthracite Outfitters North Branch Susquehanna River Conditions and Catching Report for the week of 5/11/2011

The river finally managed to drop to an acceptable level for the kayak, so I figured with the spring we have had it was time to get out while the getting was good. The day was warm, in the 70’s and partly sunny. I launched around mid-day and was surprised the find the launch ramps were still buried in mud from the previous high water events that we have had this spring.

Once I was done dragging the kayak and my gear over the slippery mud that was ankle to calf deep in spots I was off on the first kayak fishing trip this year due to the river levels and unfavorable weather.

Anglers need to be careful around the river during these conditions because even though the levels were down, the flow rate was not and the banks are extremely slippery and the water is still very cold. An angler falling into the river would be swept downstream fairly quickly in the colder water and would have a hard time getting back up the slippery bank, so caution needs to be taken when fishing the Susquehanna or any river in these conditions.

I quickly made it downstream to a feeder stream that was swollen; I set myself in the small eddie at the mouth so that I could easily swing the lure across the merging currents and the small seams that they were creating. First cast with a 6” Storm swimshad and I had a 30” Northern hit it just as it broke the current seam at the edge of the eddy pocket running tight to the bottom on a slow retrieve. Not a bad first fish for the first kayak trip this season. Several casts later I lost a musky at the side of the kayak and decided to move up into the feeder.
This ended up being my only fish for the afternoon, but not for a lack of trying. Some days are just better than others.

I was targeting Pike, Walleye or Musky, so I wasn’t looking for or even fishing for smallmouth, which are in their spawn time currently and are only a catch & immediate release fishery from mid-April through to father’s day. I like to give them a break this time of year and concentrate on the musky, Pike or walleye while they are still very active with the colder water temps.

The river was a work out to get back upstream with the increased flow rate and would have been a tough paddle, but this season I’m using a Hobie Outback and I have to say that the Mirage Drive System on the Hobie made heading back upstream against the current in that particular area much easier than it would have been by paddle.

The river is forecast to rise again to a level that I prefer not to kayakfish on, so as soon as I can I will get out there and catch up another report.

Capt. Daniel Hubbard

Anthracite Outfitters Owner/Operator
Pa Licensed & Insured Fishing Guide
Tactical Anglers Pro-Staff

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anthracite Outfitters Blast and Cast 2010 Vol.1

Tactical Anglers Sniper Jacket & Seal Skin Shirt Review

Recently we have become members of the Tactical Anglers family and Pro-Staff and a few weeks ago we received a nice box of goodies from them.

In this review I am going to be talking about their fleece jacket and seal skin shirt.

Lets start with the shirt. The seal skin shirt is considered a base layer or can be used as a rash guard under a wetsuit for an additional layer. The shirt is fitted and has stretch to it which makes a perfect skin tight base layer with a stretchy collar that fits nicely to your neck.

I have been ice climbing and mountaineering for the better part of my life and have used some of the finest outdoor gear from companies like The North Face, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and I will put this shirt right up there with some of the biggest names in the outdoor industry, it works that well. It actually has a better fit then most traditional base layers that I have and that is due to the tight fit of the shirt in order to be used under a wetsuit without creating a pressure point from getting bunched up.

A lot of thought was put into this shirt and it use in the angling community, that is what separates from other base layers, it was designed with the angler in mind.

We spent Saturday on the river with a client with temps going from the low 40's up into the 60's, sun, rain and wind for the afternoon and I basically wore the Seal Skin shirt with a fleece vest for the better part of the day and not once was I cold or hot, it regulated my core temp all day and only when the rain started to come down heavy did I put on a jacket.

Bottom line this shirt works.
The fleece jacket is right up there with the shirt in quality and fit, with a bit of stretch to it, it has a more technical fit then most fleece jackets on the market and is "smooth fleece" on the outside with tight pile on the inside cutting down on bulk and adding some wind and water resistance to the jacket which is a nice feature. It has a pocket on each sleeve for small items, warmer pockets and inside pockets as well. Its not short on storage space for you items, either.

Again the design was with the angler in mind, it has great freedom of movement and is a little longer so it will not ride up while casting or kneeling down to deal with a fish.

We have used the jacket in cooler night temps during some rain while chasing trout and it performs as well as it fits, perfectly.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anthracite Outfitters, Product Review: Tactical Anglers Fishing Clips for Sweet Water Application

Confidence (from "New Oxford American Dictionary" on my computer): the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

Recently I have started using the Tactical Anglers "Tactical Fishing Clips". {as seen attached to the lure in the above image} My findings based on the performance of the clips and moreover, the performance of my lures attached to the clips, bring one word to mind... Confidence.

Before I ever fish a new lure or piece of terminal tackle I always watch its behavior in close. When I first received the Tactical Angler Fishing Clips I took them and my go to lures and for about 3 hours scrutinized the plug and clip combination's behavior in the water. The clip I focused on was the 50lbs. clip. This is the most practical size for my walleye and smallmouth lures. The first lure I attached to the clip was a 3/4oz bucktail jig. I was shocked to see that there was no restriction of the jigs movement akin to using a non-slip loop knot. The jig bounced through the column as if there was no clip there. The walleye also don't appear to notice the clip either fishing the jig as usual...

After I gained full confidence in the behavior of the jig attached to the clip, I switched to my swimming plugs. Those plugs being the standard balsa 4-3/8" rapala, a Shallow Shad X-rap XRSH-08, and a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow in the 5 1/4" floating. I spent a good amount of time with short casts and varied retrieves so I could watch the plugs behavior. Again I was thrilled with what I saw. The XRSH-08 and the Crystal Minnow behaved as if I tied direct via a non-slip loop knot. The light balsa rapala was actually enhanced by the slight bit of weight the clip added to the lure. One of my favorite and often surprisingly effective techniques is to cast the rapala short, in the dark, no more than 20' off the river bank. Then as the mellow current grabs the lure, I just subtly twitch the rod tip so the rapala displaces as much surface water as possible in order to create rings in the surface. Walleye pound the snot out of it in inches of water. Well when I employed this technique with the TA 50lbs. clip attached I found the lure's behavior in this technique to be enhanced as well a slight audible click created between the clip and the lure eye. The head of the lure rides a bit lower in the surface so the same rod tip motion causes more water to be displaced. All of my standard techniques and lures produced as well as they have before I started using the TA 50lbs. clip...

One of the many functional aspects of the TA 50lbs. clip is the efficiency of changing lures. It took me 3 minutes with my eyes closed to get the feel for changing lures. In situations where the walleye are at your feet at night, the use of any light is ill advised. I would never in a million years trust that a duo-lock snap was fully closed unless turning my back to the water and using my red light on my head lamp to verify the plugs security. Anytime a lure isn't in the water it can't catch fish. Yeah, I know that's like saying the team that scores the most wins, but if you took and added up the seconds one looses changing plugs it would add up to hours a year. Once the TA clip is attached to the plug with an audible metal on metal "click" it's attached securely. Trust me, the lure aint going anywhere unless you break it off!!!

This leads me to the strength of the clip. Many a time smallmouth and larger walleye have mutilated duo-lock snaps on me. Many a time when locked up on sticky bottom I stretched out duo-lock snaps. Well that's the least of my concerns with the TA 50lbs. clip. Since using the TA clips I have brought back snagged jigs with the hook broken or straightened and the TA clip unscathed.

I began this piece with a definition of the word "confidence". When it comes to the security, and functionality of the Tactical Anglers Fishing Clips the definition I started with is what comes to mind for me. In my angling world every cast could produce a trophy. In my angling world trophies are just a cast away. In my angling world confidence is a must. The last thing that concerns me in my sweet water angling world is where my lure attaches to the Tactical Anglers Tactical Fishing Clip.

Speaking of fishing...I'm going fishing...

Hope this helps.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rolling with the Kid: North Branch of the Susquehanna River condition and trip report 7/28/10 to 7/29...

Dan and I took the opportunity to take his 11 year old son, Bryce, out on the river for his first overnight run. Bryce after helping man Anthracite Outfitter's "kayak fishing" booth at two river festivals this summer, expressed interest in running on his first overnight kayak fishing trip on our waters on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Neither Dan nor I wanted this request to get stale, so we worked out a Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon trip. Bryce was gung-ho and we got after it.

Bryce learned to cast in the surf using a 2oz. hopkins spoon hanging from a Penn 4500ss on a G-Loomis 7'er seemingly at the same time he was learning to speak. Casting from the kayak was an easy transition for him.

The river this season is running low and warm. Consequently the smallmouth bass are congregated around moving, oxygenated water. With the low flow the insects that emerge to winged adults this time of year are being condensed en-mass, and are easy eats in dark time. Basically, we're finding the smallmouth need to be triggered with an explosive and equally abrupt stop and go retrieve with swim baits, crank baits, spinner baits, and even flies being presented with a big down current belly and 3' strips.

The smallies show no signs of feeding, as jigs and soft plastics presented slowly aren't getting touched. Shortly into the drift and coming through our cherished boulder field I was working a paddle tailed swim bait rigged on a weedless, weighted worm hook. I fished a handful of casts just keeping light contact with the boulder tops with a slow drive in the reel. After a few well placed casts didn't show any fish I let the swim bait get down and began working it back to the kayak with abrupt, yet smooth snaps of the rod tip every time I felt the bait contact the boulders on the bottom never taking drive out of the reel and only speeding up to take up slack. On the second cast employing this technique, when the bait was about 5' away from my yak I noticed a bulging V-wake and instantaneously my rod tip went down and my reel sang as the drag yield to the weight of the take. I instantly thought musky, however, after a number of surging runs, some under the yak, I brought a juiced up 5# channel cat to net. By far the best fight I've had on the river this season...

By the time I got the photo snapped and the fish back in the drink we had drifted up on our next slight, elevation change with decent moving water. It was hot, and wading with the fly rod was such an inviting thought that I indulged in it. I pulled up the yak and waded out to about mid-thigh depth. Again, by swinging clousers on a deep down current belly with a 3' long stripping retrieve I got the smallie's interest. If the fly was just allowed to come around on the swing there were no takers. As soon as I accelerated the fly along its path with the stripping retrieve they responded.

Dan and Bryce headed down river a bit and pulled up too. I eventually caught up and took Bryce out in the current to work with him on some technique. The boy was on point...

It was a good opportunity to work retrieve and current technique but unfortunately we were to far below the quick water where the congregation of smallies were. We got back on the paddle and made for camp.

We put a bit of a hustle on to get camp set so we could eat...

I should mention that we were pre-frontal and were on the edge of weather. After dinner the white mayflies (ephoron leukon) started to come up in good numbers. This could be a good thing if one is moderately well versed with a fly rod, and can be in slack water when the cats come up to vacuum the spent flies after they mate. These are dry fly caught channel cats from the week prior, I was hitting from 11pm to 2am...

It's a bad thing when there's lightning and being on the water is potentially deadly. It's bad because there is such a volume of insects that the fish get tunnel visioned and only key on the bugs. If one isn't dropping a good fly replica on the film leading the v-waking fish vacuuming the surface, they're going to have a hard time catching. I know, sight fishing with dry flies for channel cats from the kayak in the dark is as surreal as it sounds. Here's what the water surface looks like in the after math of a white mayfly hatch...

Every white mark is a spent mayfly. Here's some background on the E. Leukons. They look like a burrowing mayfly type nymph. They emerge in the thousands. Keep in mind that when a may fly hatches from a water born nymph to a winged fly, the first stage of its winged life is called a sub-imago or more commonly amongst fly anglers a dun. Most mayflies will spend about a day in the form of the dun eventually molting again into the imago or what fly casters call spinners. The spinner stage is the sexually mature adult fly. The Latin name for the mayfly order is Ephemeroptera, which translated to English means winged for a day, roughly. Matter of fact the mouth parts on a winged mayfly are vestigial rendering that organ as functional as the appendix in humans. Once mating has occurred, the females, lay the eggs and female and male alike die. When they die fly anglers call it a spinner fall and often get rightfully amped up because fish come up and gorge on the easy meal as referenced in the last image. A unique aspect of the E. Leukon is that they go from dun to spinner almost immediately after hatching, often molting on the wing. So when one sees the white mayflies coming off the water they should know that in less than 2 hours time the water will be blanketed with the spinners. Here's a sequence of what the dun to spinner transition looks like...

Given that a system was moving through and electricity was evident it would have been downright stupid to put ourselves on the water to get after the fish on top. Suffice it to say that all night long the sound of exploding water was echoing on the wind as fish were gorging on the spinner fall.

Throughout the course of the evening we got hit with three heavy thunderstorms. The first that came through caused me to have to lay diagonally in my tent as the walls were being collapsed by the 30mph + down draft coming over the mountain ridge to our Northeast. Once that blew through I reset my tent, andre-stoked the fire. Within a half hour of the first storm the second blew in but not as nasty as the first that came through. I bedded down for the night and was briefly awoken by the last of the showers that came through around first light.

I was extremely impressed by Bryce's resolve weathering the tumult of the night's weather. Given it was his first time ever afield over night in a tent he held it together and handled nature's strong arm like a man. Actually, he really must have been tired because he slept through the first storm.

When we got up in the morning Dan got the pancakes, breakfast sausage, and coffe on the flame and Bryce and I teamed up to catch. The backside of the island is more like a large trout stream at the current flow rate. I can easily cast to the far shore, but Bryce at his age doesn't have the torquing power in his hands to cast across the flow to the far shoreline. The fish were sitting on the edge of back current and were hitting a shallow crankbait on the stop after an explosive retrieve out of the slack water. I would get the fish hooked up and Bryce handled getting it in...

After we worked the oneside of the island, Bryce and I went to my pet eddy pocket on the other side. The water on the current flow isn't circulating enough to have a core of still water conducive to a spook. However, there are weed pockets there and they told me to throw a buzz bait. I got it cross current and made it make a bee line for the weeds. Sure enough, Bryce beached his best smallie of the trip...

After breakfast, Bryce had his fill of the river for this trip. Weathering the storm like the trooper he was and not getting the rest he could have he asked if we could not take all day fishing our way out. We obliged his request and fully understood. We had a downriver blow so we did some fishing on the way out and eventually got to the take out. Today he and dad are running around a water park with the under water camera and I eagerly await word of the stories Bryce told his cousins about the trip.

I would like to offer a huge thank-you to John Oast for allowing us to use his Ocean Kayak Malibu 2xl tandem. That kayak was everything we needed to bring the pup out and show him what kayak fishing life is like Anthracite Outfitters style...

Thanks again Mr. Toast!!!

Dan and I have a full plate of river trips for August and I hope to cash in on the Leukons while they last.

Stay tuned, tight lines, and as always... Safe Paddling!!!

Fish Tank