Chris Walker of Walker Fishing Adventure consistently crushes big smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River. He is a versatile angler with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. But one bait that I have been noticing with his Instagram pics is his use of big swimbaits for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass. Chris shares with us how he uses these big baits for big smallmouth bass.
How long have you been fishing the Susquehanna River?
I started fishing the Susquehanna in 2013 when I moved to Pennsylvania after retiring from the Army. I fell in love with the river and it motivated me to share it with other veterans, which lead me to guiding in 2015.
What section of the river do you fish?
I fish primarily the upper main stem and west branch. It’s the best of both worlds. The trophies on the west and numbers on the main stem. I have to say the west has some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen.
When did you first start fishing big swimbaits for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?
In 2017, I became fascinated with all these west coasties catching all these big bass on big swimbaits. I wondered why I wasn’t seeing anyone else around throwing them. I started with a Megabass I-Slide 135 and Jackall Gantarel Jr.
My confidence was not great but I get tired of just the same old stuff. So after a few casts…bam…they were smashing them. Needless to say my confidence went way up and so did the size of the baits.
What do you consider a big swimbait when it comes to size for Susquehanna smallmouth bass?
When it comes to big swims for smallmouth, I would have to say a bait bigger than 5 inches.
Typically with largemouth bass big swimbaits sacrifice the number of bites you get. But when you do get a bite, it is quality. Is this also true for big swimbaits for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?
It is true you do still sacrifice the number of bites. Generally the ones you get are going to be 2 pounds and up. There is something that’s just satisfying about throwing a big bait with a big rod.
It does take some patience. But when the situation is right, it is super fun.
What are your favorite swimbaits to throw?
Some of my favorites are definitely the Megabass I-Slide’s 5 and 8 inches and 6 and 7 inch Magdraft and Magslowl. They all produce well and are easy to use. The Duel Ninja Twitch is a great bait for the price as well as the Jackall lineup.
What is your setup for big swimbaits for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?
My current big bait setup is a Shimano TranX 7:8.1 with 100mm dual knob with Okuma Guide Select 1-6oz swimbait rod. I use 20lb Seaguar Abrazx just for assurance that I’m not loosing big money baits. Having a rod with the right lure weight is crucial for long casts and all day comfort while slinging heavy baits.
When are the best times to throw on a big swimbait for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?
I find that when bait fish are running or you would use a jerkbait you can be throwing big swims almost as effectively if done right. It definitely draws out fish. Even if they are not interested, they are curious. So you can at least locate them with a big swim and then pick them off with a finesse bait if they are funky.
What is your typical retrieve like when throwing a big swimbait on the Susquehanna River?
Typical retrieve for a big soft bait depends on the bait. Top hook is generally reel slow bumping everything on the bottom stirring up stuff. Bottom hook will be a faster retrieve to keep it suspended.
Now big glides will vary bait to bait and gear ratio to gear ratio. High ratio you can generally just bump the reel for a nice side to side glide. Where as if you have a slower ratio you might have to add a little more rod twitching with the retrieve.
What are 5 pieces of advice that you have for anglers wanting to start throwing big swimbaits for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?
5 pieces of advice I would give anglers new to throwing big swims are:
1. Research local baitfish colors and species before dropping hundreds on baits.
2. Invest in a decent rod and reel setup for throwing heavy baits you and your smaller rods will thank me later.
3. Notice your surroundings. If the bait fish are popping throw big swims.
4. Stay confident they catch solid fish.
5. Be patient, the best things come to those who wait.
How can someone get a hold of you for a guided trip?
Thanks so much Chris. As someone who calls the Susquehanna River his home body of water for a long time, you have taught me something new. May just have to give a big swimbait a try one of these days.