Susquehanna River Fishing Articles

                                Capitol Smallmouth


By Dave Shindler


Central Pennsylvania is known to be a busy tourist destination. The visiting masses shuffle along the streets of Hershey to the Chocolate factory, hoping to get a taste of the world famous Kiss or a good old fashion Hershey Chocolate Bar.  In the background you can hear screams of many coming from one of Hershey Parks many famed Roller Coasters. Move your attention to the big building next door, and the Hershey Bears are making a run at yet another American Hockey League Calder Cup Championship. In Nearby Harrisburg, thousands of Baseball fans file onto Harrisburg’s City Island to watch the Senators face off with one of their AAA Rivals. Senator’s fans have had the opportunity to watch many rising stars on their way to the Major Leagues. From Vladimir Guerrero to Ryan Zimmerman, many All Stars have visited Pennsylvania’s Capitol City.  However if you are reading this magazine, I am betting that you weren’t looking for a recommendation on Great Roller Coasters or where to get the Best Chocolate bar on Earth.


In the eyes of the outdoorsman, there is no better attraction in the Harrisburg area than the Susquehanna River and its many finned residents. The area surrounding Harrisburg is known as one of the best Smallmouth Bass fisheries in the country, for great reason. The area also boasts some great Walleye, Musky and Flathead Catfish fishing.


Goldsboro to the Dock Street Dam


I consider the Harrisburg area to start in the Lake Frederick pool, which starts directly above the York Haven Dam. This area is many times called the Goldsboro pool or Middletown Pool. The two areas are separated by a very shallow rock chain which runs from the East to West bank. The Goldsboro pool itself is much deeper in general, and is accessible with larger crafts including Fiberglass Bass boats as well as Pontoons and Runabouts. While the area can get busy on the weekends, it is still very easy to hide from not fishing boat traffic.  In general spring and fall are the best times to fish the Goldsboro pool. Many fish that seem nonexistent in the summer months become much easier to find and catch, during the cooler months of the year. Goldsboro’s Smallmouth are many times fooled with Jerk baits, Swim baits, Spinner baits, Tubes and Top water Baits.


The Middletown area is a completely different fishery than the Goldsboro pool, even though is a very short distance away. Once you move above the large ledge, the water depth limits craft selection to those with a Jet Drive or a paddled craft in most cases. It is strongly recommended that you fish with someone who can show you around, before navigating this area on your own in a powered boat. The Middletown area is very diverse in fishable structure. This area has numerous Islands, as well as deep and shallow ledges, Gravel bars, Grass beds and much more. Seasonal patterns keep the Smallmouth moving, and can be caught all times of the year on various techniques. This area also has a great population of Walleye and Some superb Musky fishing. There are a few feeder creeks that can many times influence water clarity and temperature. The Swatara and Yellow Breeches creeks are the larger of those flows.  




City Island to Fort Hunter


This section of the Susquehanna is separated from the lower areas, by a low head dam.  The City Island pool, again has some deeper water for a few miles upstream.  The water depth is not the only change that you will notice. The landscape changes as well from tree lined banks and summer cottages to street lights and office buildings. Even the State Capitol Building graces the banks of the City Island pool.

As you travel upstream you will notice many of the same types of cover including feeder creeks and bridge piers. There are a few more islands as well, which area scattered along the miles of scenic waters. The seasonal patterns and movements can make this a very exciting year round fishery. Spring boasts some of the best Spinner bait and Jerk bait fishing around. Last spring my clients, landed 5 Smallmouth Bass over 5 lbs in a one week period.  In the upper end of this section there is another very large ledge called the “Rockville Ledge”, which marks a large elevation drop and creates an impressive waterfall area. This ledge at times be a very productive spot, due to the increase in turbulence and Oxygen infused into the water. This is a very common attraction for Walleye and Bass fisherman.


There are also some unique sightseeing opportunities here also.  One of the more unique aspects is “Bird Island”. Bird Island is a rather small island that every spring attracts an amazing number of migrant birds, which utilize the trees as a nesting spot. You will see crested Night Herons, Cormorants and Egrets. It may not sound too impressive, but the shear number of birds makes this something truly amazing.


Fort Hunter to Duncannon



Prop boats need not apply!!  This is one of the most treacherous areas of the river, which is regarded by most as just plain nasty to run a boat in. More damage is done in this area than any other section of the Susquehanna. Launch access is limited to just a few ramps which make the area hard to reach. Launching from the Fort Hunter ramp is the most common launch site, which is located the far Southern most part of the area. Directly above the ramp is a series of ledges which must be navigated with the utmost of caution. As you travel upstream along Route 322 , you navigate the West bank toward Duncannon. There are a host of underwater and exposed rocks and ledges as well as numerous grass beds and islands. This is shallow water fishing at its finest, with my favorites being top water baits and spinner baits. Soft plastics can be great spring time baits, as well as anytime the water levels rise to higher than normal levels. Again I would not suggest you run this area, unless you are very well versed in reading shallow water or ride with someone who is. The fishing in this area is as good as it gets on the Susquehanna most times of the year, and is well worth taking a good look at if you are interested in classic Smallmouth fishing.



The Harrisburg area is quite simply full of fantastic fishing opportunities. If you are planning a visit to South Central Pennsylvania, take a good look at spending a day or two chasing our areas top fishery. Whether you chose to bring a Kayak, Canoe or Fishing Boat, there is a great place to spend your time outdoors on one of the most spectacular rivers in the country. 

                               Our Fountain of Youth



By Dave Shindler

Jst Fishin Guide Service




Believe me, there is nothing a Susquehanna River Fishing Guide likes to see more than one of his clients hook into the fish of a lifetime. You know how a big Smallmouth in hand, makes all your troubles go away.  Make that happy angler on the butt end of the rod a youngster, and the excitement sky rockets to a whole new level.  Young anglers are truly the future of our sport and it is up to us to make sure they enjoy their time on the water.




Make it about them


One of the most important things with a beginner is to focus on getting them to catch fish. Don’t simply take your Son or Daughter along with you and your buddies. Designate a fishing day to your children to assure they will catch fish. Unless your kids are accomplished anglers, they will become bored, tagging along on a trip where they have to go long periods without action. Techniques need to be kid friendly and exciting.



They don’t have to be big fish…Just Fish.

Bluegill, Crappie, Carp and Catfish are great species to target. In general, live-bait is the easiest method to assure they will be successful. On every Susquehanna River fishing trip with my youngest son, we will spend an hour or two bluegill fishing and put a few in the livewell. This does two things. First it gives him something to play with when boredom sets in, and secondly bluegills can be tremendous bait for large Catfish and other species. Bluegill fishing with a bobber teaches them to watch the line, which will become the foundation for many techniques to come.



Give them their own tackle box


Kids usually have a short attention span, so you need to keep them busy. Even on a slow day of fishing you can make the day much more exciting by letting them play. I like to give my kids a couple of boxes with their own tackle in it. Don’t just give them your old junk either. Fill their box with the tools they need to catch fish. Tubes, Worms, a few Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, Spinnerbaits, a Topwater or two and some other miscellaneous baits should do the trick. In another box, fill with jigheads, hooks and weights. I would also recommend letting them build their tackle selection with your help. Teach them what the baits are used for and let them think about what to fish in what conditions. My kids have free roam of the garage and take what they need. We all know how we feel when we walk into the tackle shop with cash in hand. Give your kids $20 each to buy tackle and watch them light up.


Don’t let them go Hungry


Like all of us, Kids like to eat!!  My kids like to eat ALOT.  One of the easiest ways to ruin a trip with young anglers is to have a shortage of food and drinks. I like to pack a large zip-lock full of snack foods. Fruit snacks, chips, crackers and apple sauce are a staple on our trips. Plenty of waters, juice boxes and some fresh fruit never make it home unscathed. While many times I never stop fishing and stuff my face while moving from spot to spot, this is not the way to go with kids.  Stop, drop anchor, and eat with them.





I wish I Woulda!!


While very grammatically incorrect, this is a statement that I hear so often. Live for today because tomorrow, your kids will be in college or asking you to baby sit your Grandchildren. Every year I look back through my pictures from that season. It’s hard to believe how quickly my kids grow from year to year. It seems like only yesterday that I was taking my oldest son’s first fish off the hook. Now he is talking about where he wants to go to College, and his voice is getting deeper.  I have been blessed with the most beautiful family I could ever ask for, and sometimes need to step back and enjoy what the Good Lord has blessed me with. I never want to say “ I wish I woulda spent more time with my kids when they were young.”


My point to this whole article is really not to teach you anything as fishing techniques go. Simply to help us all realize that sharing our love of the outdoor world with a kid is more than good for them and us.  It is the Fountain of Youth for our sport!!


Take a kid fishing even if you have to borrow some.  They will remember for- ever!!!!!