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A Hard Line!

Four days before the September full moon my cohort and I landed in Duncannon, PA. We would call the rustic riverfront campground home for the next few days while putting Vicious fluorocarbon line against the flowing waters of the Susquehanna River. Temperatures ranged from 73 to 93 degrees during our three days, which proved to be very comfortable tent camping. Duncannon riverfront campground, provides great views of the river whose banks face the east, catching some beautiful sunrises.

A quick history of our relationship with this area. A good friend of ours grew up in Harrisburg and introduced us to the Susquehanna a decade ago. Since that time we make an annual pilgrimage to her waters for some aquatic ballets via the hearty small mouth bass that occupy her valleys. Our first proving ground is Shawn's Rocks(SR) located 5 miles south of our campground that has good numbers of active fish throughout the day even while moving against or with the current.

We call this area Shawn’s Rocks (SR) because of his epic catch.

Walking here is constant ankle rollers covered in slippery film, (imagine trying to fish on roller skates) many vertical 1-2 ft. shelves surrounded by large mountain slabs with squared off corners, and in between, nice round river stone. Patches of eel grass were scattered about and didn’t seem to be a pattern for finding fish. Most fish came off casts into water you couldn’t read well.

If I could see the fish they were already spooked and wouldn’t eat our humble offerings. Out of 40 or so catches, the average size was one to two lbs. with six to eight around two lbs. and three that were pushing three lbs. or better.

The water was warm enough to walk in all day and atmospheric conditions affected our comfort more than water temps. Our first morning was cold enough to lose feeling in our fingers till the sun came out around 1130. The Vicious fluorocarbon line that I’ve written about previously, performed beautifully. The first day I tied on 20 lb. test, the line was absolutely shredded on the first 18 inches from dragging and setting the hook across rock edges and fighting fish through the rocks. There was enough spring to be forgiving on snags and hook sets, but enough abrasion resistance not to break the entire eight hours of casting and catching.

Day Two: I tied on 17 lb. test and headed out to Three Mile Island which is a much different terrain and walk. The rock is more river stone and softer edges than SR. The water is deeper, a consistent 3 - 4 ft. with some 5 ft. areas. We stepped out at the Swatara water trail, Middletown access and headed down stream towards the huge vent stacks of Three Mile Island. Dragging a shakey head jig through this scenario, I was curious how the knot would hold up being nose mounted on the tear drop head. Throughout the day I popped it out of snags and caught a couple of fish but what I thought would prove to be the deal breaker was casting to higher water flows between the larger rock formations.

These formations are shallow in front while the back side contains a deeper hole and an eddy. A popular technique is to throw into the water flow and let your lure drift into the eddy on the back side, where it should get absolutely demolished. I made several attempts to succeed using this technique with zero pay dirt to show for my efforts.

When the day began to dwindle and we started the walk back I checked my line and noticed little to no scratches or abrasions. With that observation, we decided to go back to SR for some further testing, seeing that the terrain around Three Mile Island wasn’t as harsh.

Day Three: Back at SR I had one break off where I set the hook on a fish using a swim bait. I got to watch the fish attempt to shake the swim jig out of its mouth, clearly there was enough there to get the hook into the fish. I can only assume there was a nick in the line from an earlier incident where I tried to cast the swim jig and failed to see the tree trunk sticking out of the water 2 feet away from my back cast….I know...I”m working on it. After that I tied on the same shakey head I used the days prior and finished the day without needing to re tie. As usual the line was looking pretty worn when I had to giggle and tell Shawn that the next fish will probably bust the line. As with all things not 100 yds. later I set the hook on this beautiful beast and the first thought that ran through my mind was the condition of my line, but it held up to not only her, but another one of equal size.

By the end of the third day I was tired from all the walking and the multitude of casts, my palm was raw from where the reel had sat for the last 72, hours and I could care less if I set the hook again for the next 48! We had logged 24 hours in the Susquehanna with no boats and no kayaks, just two guys, two rods and four sore feet, God provided the rest. I had set out to push the line to it’s breaking point, but instead found another opportunity to instill even more confidence in the product. If you're tired of telling the story of “The one that got away” pick up some Vicious Fluorocarbon and start showing pictures of those beautiful Bass!

Wading considerations;

  • Immersion Diuresis: take plenty of water and hydrate BEFORE you get out there.

  • FOOTWEAR, I wear Belleville boots with felt soles which provides ankle support and traction on slippery rocks, you will still slip just not as much as rubber soles. Shawn wears Salomons mesh shoes which would fill up with pebbles and sand but the soles were strong enough that smaller rocks didn’t hurt his feet. DO NOT wear diving booties.

  • There are 4-6 foot holes and with the current you need to be very comfortable in the water. You need to be able to help yourself, which is why we don’t wear waders.

Some more Pictures of the trip;

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