The Susquehanna River is my home body of water. I have fished the Susquehanna since I was 10, which means nearly 35 years of fishing the river. Every time I think I have the Suskie figured out, I meet an angler that helps me think of fishing the River in an all new way. Ryan Myers is one of these anglers that knows the Susquehanna inside and out and has a lot of cool ideas for catch the smallmouth that call it home. For example, I have never fished a blade bait on the river. Ryan does and has convinced me to pick up a few blade baits this off-season. So if you are an experienced River Rat on the Susquehanna or want to fish this smallmouth bass factory for the first time, Ryan’s interview provides a ton of great information.
What section of the Susquehanna River do you fish?
I fish a long stretch of the Susquehanna, from Havre De Grace, Maryland all the way up through Liverpool, Pennsylvania. My favorite section depends what time of year and the water levels. I will say my all time favorite place is in and around Fort Hunter. If you are not sure of where that is, majority know where Lady Liberty sits. A few reasons why I enjoy that area so much is that the bass are stacked up that way and you always produce a large volume of fish. Another reason is the landscapes that surround you. The scenery is just incredible.
As you prepare for the early spring season in 2017, what do you consider your best pre-spawn strategies on the river?
It’s obvious for the spawn season that majority of the bass come into the shallows along the banks. I’ve been targeting banks especially points and I do extremely well. Rattle traps, crank baits, spinner baits are very effective during that time. I did find it odd this past spring that there was one day I threw literally everything I had. I turned to a pink Senko and literally caught a bass on every cast. Sometimes you gotta throw everything you have until you figure out what they want.
How does your approach to river fishing change when you are fishing a tournament versus out fishing recreationally?
I will admit that it becomes a mind game during tournament bass fishing. This is due to heavy competition and the anglers you are up against have the skill set you do, so you wanna perform or out perform better than them. I tell myself to just go out and fish and not worry about the competition, but that’s not always easy.
For recreational “fun” fishing, well, honestly whether it’s a tournament, practice, or filming for my YouTube videos I always have fun. Just being on the water making those casts and making yourself a better angler each time I go out makes every trip enjoyable. We all have our days of not catching the limits or weights we want but that’s all part of the game.
What was your best day of smallmouth fishing on the Susquehanna this year? Can you take us through the details of the day and how you were so successful?
I had two days of awesome fishing. The first one was around Liverpool. My buddy Mike Sholley and myself each caught over 70 fish a piece using spinnerbaits and top water. We caught a bunch that were well over four pounds.
The second best time I had was in late October. The river had flooded up north and that muddy high water came down past Harrisburg. I fished on the west shore across from Harrisburg International Airport. It was a Friday morning, the weather was cold and windy. Water temps were around 54 degrees and water clarity was harsh, basically fishing in chocolate milk. The gold Rat-L-Trap and a bright colored spinnerbait produced some big small mouth. A hand full of four and five pound footballs were caught throughout the day. One smallmouth that was caught had a full stomach of decent sized fish including another smallmouth in its mouth. Very incredible day on the water.
There are two baits that I want to ask you about. I saw you throw the Whopper Plopper. Can you share with us how you are using this topwater bait to catch Susquehanna smallies?
I laugh at the fact that the Whopper Plopper has become the most popular top water bait on the market. So popular that most tackle shops can’t keep them on the shelf. The Whopper Plopper is incredibly easy to cast and retrieve. The only thing I suggest is the speed on your retrieve. Some days you can retrieve it fast then there are other days you want to retrieve it slow. Again, depends how the bass want it. If you haven’t used them and wanna try it out, may I suggest three colors, loon, monkey butt, and white. I use two different sizes as well and both have produced fish. The 130 series have caught bigger fish but not as many in volumes like the 90 series. I recommend buying both sizes. Check out River2sea or Tackle Warehouse for the best selection.
Then I also saw you with a bait that you don’t often see get discussed for PA fishing, a blade bait. Are you using that on the Susquehanna? Can you share with us more detail the ways you fish that bait to attract smallies?
Yes, a steel blade that 99% of anglers don’t have in their tackle box that fish the Susquehanna River. The “Steel Shad lure” comes in different colors and sets off a intense vibration that imitates dying fish. I’ve used all kinds of blades but these have worked better then any other blade on the market today. My three favorite colors are gold, silver and rainbow trout. I fish these mostly like a lipless crank and sometimes like a jig.
I actually made a video which you can view on YouTube called “match the hatch” under “Ryan Myers Fishing” I’ve caught my personal best largemouth, smallmouth and my first ever Muskie coming in at 39 inches. I’ve also caught walleyes and channel catfish with the steel shad lures. I highly recommend investing in a few and giving them a try. You can’t find them in stores but if you visit www.steelshad.com, you’ll be able to pick and choose your colors and better yet they have fast delivery.
What other waters do you like to fish?
I fish all kinds of different waters. Lakes, rivers and tidal waters. I’d say the challenge for me is tidal like the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Knowing when high tide and low tide are scheduled is the challenge. It tells you when the feed could happen and when Largemouth will be on the move. Electronics, experience and your gut is three key tools to use. Lakes are another challenge for me, but I do enjoy it. Mostly pitching and flipping is my go to bait for lakes. I struggled on a lake in Chester County this past summer but with the help of another angler and suggesting to use the drop shot I was able to reel a few in. I would say that my all time favorite is rivers, in which most of the time I’m very successful in.
You are making your own custom spinnerbaits, jigs and chatter baits. What got you started doing this?
Actually I do not make my own custom baits. The baits shown in my photos were made by an angler in my fishing club. Central PA Fishing is gonna be taking off here soon. His name is Joe Campbell and he makes jigs and spinnerbaits in any color you want including whatever size you want. I’ve asked him for certain colors and whatever he can match against the river. His pricing is very reasonable and trust me I’ve caught high volumes of bass using his custom baits. He has already given me permission to give his phone number out for anyone that wants custom baits made. You can contact him directly at 717-991-6502
I told you this interview was packed with so much information. The Susquehanna is a world class fishery but one that is also very fragile at the same time. Please abide by all conservation principles when fishing the Susquehanna, catch photo and release only for all big smallmouth please.
Follow Ryan’s fishing success on Instagram.