Over the July 4th weekend, Marilyn and I spent a few hours one afternoon fishing for smallmouth on the Allegheny River. The sky was bright blue without a cloud, the river level was as low as I had seen it in two years, and the water clearer than normal - which altogether can make catching bass a tough proposition. Add to that the hundreds of kayaks and canoes in a never ending procession -- I have never seen so many paddlers!
After 50 minutes of working favorite summer soft jerkbaits, swimbaits, tubes, crankbaits and topwater along normally productive areas, Marilyn was wishing we had taken time to gather live bait ahead of time for this river outing...especially after watching a father and two sons catch several bass on creek-caught minnows.
Motoring downstream a bit, in the clear water I spotted a mid-stream chunk rock ridge about 4 feet under the water in a deep current pool. We dropped anchor in 8 feet of water above the head of the rock bar. Frustrated with casting and not catching anything, Marilyn nose-hooked a 4-inch Yum Green Pumpkin Dinger with only a split shot for weight...looking very much like a live bait rig. She threw into the current and let it drift down onto the rocks, where it hovered out of our sight but barely off the bottom. Meanwhile, I continued slinging other lures to no avail.
Three minutes into deadsticking the Yum Dinger, Marilyn swept her rod high in a hookset! The drag squealed as she lost and then gained line, eventually netting an extremely pump 14-inch fish. Two more minutes of deadsticking another Dinger, she had another larger smallmouth in the net. That was my cue to switch.
After hitting two similar areas downstream, we called it quits -- officially tied at eight smallmouth each. The two largest were just over 18 inches. Every bass came by deadsticking a Dinger in deep current on rocks. While most bass had one or two green crawfish protruding from their throats, they could not resist the Dinger. One smallmouth had a slightly different taste in natural food -- it spit up a 7-inch mole!
Releasing the larger fish we had held for a photo, Marilyn felt obliged to say, "Who needs live bait when you can deadstick a Dinger?"
Darl is a veteran outdoor communicator with a passion for fishing. Darl and his wife Marilyn Wolfe Black form Blackwolfe Communications L.L.C., which includes Fishing with Darl Black Guide Service. Follow Darl's freshwater fishing exploits on this blog, and check out additional fishing content plus the NW PA Fishing Report online at www.blackwolfecommunications.com.