When Delaware River smallmouth guide Blaine Mengel mentioned he was catching 20-inch-plus "brownies" on jerkbaits during the late summer on the northern section of the Delaware, being a hardcore bronzeback angler I figured he was referring to smallmouth bass.
But arriving in Hancock, NY, at the appointed time last week, I found myself in the middle of trout-fishing country. We were fishing the special regulation area on the West Branch of the Delaware were brown trout find the coldwater discharge of the upstream water supply reservoir very much to their liking. But instead of fly fishing for these meat-eaters, Blaine uses jerkbaits.
After trying without success to finesse a brown into taking a small, baitfish pattern jerkbait, Blaine realized the high and dingy water demanded a bolder jerkbait. He pulled out a Sour Grape XCalibur Xs4. Over the next couple hours, Blaine landed seven brown trout between 16" and 25" on that dirty-water color.
However, trophy toothy browns are a slippery lot that don't like to pose for pictures. "You can't lip these fish like smallmouth," said Blaine as another one shot out of his hands and back into the river.
I launched my Labor Day weekend early with a trip to the North Branch of the Susquehanna where I fished for smallmouth bass with Chris Gorsuch. The North Branch was at low flow with a water temperature of 80 degrees. I was surprised at the dingy water color and lack of free floating weed strands - "Normal for the North Branch," notes Chris.
For seven hours on day one we fished lures exclusively, landing 50 bass on assorted baits. Chris lead the way with crankbaits. However, I surprised him with several fish on Yum Dancin' Eel - a soft swim tail cranker. "Looks like a swimming stone cat," notes Chris.
At the next current seam below an island, I tied on a Gene Larew Biffle-O Jr. (A 5.5" tube body with a unique long tapering tail.) I promptly out fished Chris who was using one of his custom-color tube jigs. "Acts like a swimming stone cat," notes Chris.
On day two, we fished live stone cats that Chris and friends had caught the night before. Every drop of a stone cat into the fast-current water produced a pick-up within 60 seconds. We quickly lost count of bass landed. Not only our numbers soared but stone cats produced more bass over 16" than artificial lures the day before.
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.