It is my pleasure to share this interview with Duayne Foust. Duayne is a Pennsylvania angler that spends a lot of time wading the Susquehanna River for smallmouth bass. We talk to Duayne about his techniques for this style of fishing as well as the hope and inspiration he desires to share through fishing.
How long have you been fishing and wading the Susquehanna River for smallmouth bass? What do you love about this fishery?
It all started when I was about 6…haha…you know the closed face push button pole with a hook bobber and a worm catching sunnies. Like most who have grown up next to this fishery, they’ve been fishing it for many years. But it wasn’t until about 8 years ago I became a lot more serious about fishing as a whole, especially targeting smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River
Now there’s probably about 15,000 reason why I love the fishery but I won’t ramble on. Number one though any one cast could be that trophy river smallmouth we all dream of catching. Two, the river itself is plentiful with several other game species including walleye, muskellunge, pike and several other great fish to target. One more thing, what I would say I love the most is that the fishery is something that can and does bring the community together.
What section of the river do you primarily fish?
I mainly fish the areas between Northumberland and Herndon in Pennsylvania. I fish right where the north and west branches converge forming the main stem of the river.
And to go off of what I said earlier there is plenty of great fish to be caught including channel and flathead catfish, hybrid stripped bass and even some trout but of course the smallies! I don’t wanna be “that guy” and say oh it’s the best around…blah blah blah. Come fish it and you’ll see for yourself just how great of a smallie factory it is.
When wading the Susquehanna River for smallmouth bass, what are your favorite rod and reel combos to fish?
I have several different fishing rod and reel setups I use, but my go to setup when wadding is my 7’med/hev St. Croix Premier casting rod with a Lews Mach II 7:5:1 gear ratio. I’ve found its the best all around setup because I can use just about any lure I want to. I can jig, throw crankbaits. spinners, and even 1/8 ounce Ned rigs. It’s my all purpose rod you could say.
Nowadays there are so many different rod and reel combos on the market you have to simply find out what’s best for you. In my case for the type of fishing I’m doing, I go with something that’s comfortable, light weight to handle being fished but yet has the backbone for handling big fish .
What tackle bag system are you using when wading the Susquehanna River?
And along with a fishing rod, you’re gonna need a backpack of sorts. I personally use a Columbia waterproof one that I purchased from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Yes they make actual fishing backpacks but either they don’t have enough room or they’re the one strap deals, which I don’t recommend. Reason being I learned the hard way when wadding your are gonna stumble and fall and only having the one strap the bag will fall off your back. And I should also mention you’re gonna wanna get something that helps keeps you balanced and isn’t uncomfortable when walking.
And as for what I actually keep my tackle in, I carry two main water tight tackle boxes, a 12 inch and a 10 inch box. They are ideal in my opinion. They have enough room to hold several lures of my liking yet are not too bulky and don’t take up too much room.
As for when I need to change baits or tie something new on and I can’t get to land, I’ll make sure I’m out of the current and stable in the water. Then I’ll reverse my bag wearing it backwards making it a lot easier to have access to my tackle.
What are you 3 favorite baits to throw when fishing and wading the Susquehanna River for smallies?
Top three baits I always carry with me when wadding for smallies are as follows in no particular order: tubes, spinners and topwater lures. Each in its own way will work great for smallies. Tubes in my opinion is a sure fire way to get bit. Green pumpkin is the most common color I’ll throw. If possible and I can find a way to see what color the crawfish are that is the color of tube I’ll go with.
Depending on how fast the current is and how deep the water is, how heavy your jig is can come into play. In shallow slow current, I’ll go with a lighter jig. And heavier is the opposite.
Spinners can be crazy fun when the smallies are fired up and chasing bait fish. My go to is a 1/4 double willow blade. I have a few different colors I throw but going natural like a shad silver or white color works well for me. And as for your retrieve with a spinner I’ve found a slow steadily reel works best.
Last but not least is top water. Yes, time of year comes into play with this one with fall and spring being the best times of year to use this technique. Also early mornings and evenings are best when fishing this style.
As for different lures the Whopper Plopper has become my favorite. As for color some say color doesn’t matter with this lure but if you want my opinion it can have a affect on how often you get bit. My top color choices are black, monkey butt and chubby.
When throwing this lure I’ve found that the fish will let you know how they want it. If they keep missing it, slow it down. If there’s an active fish he’ll at least come swirl on it and that will be your window to run it buy him again a little slower.
Again without multiple rods, you aren’t able to have multiple baits tied on. How do you approach changing baits up?
As for how often and when I change baits depends on conditions and if I’ve had a pattern down in the previous days. We all know finding that pattern is the hard part. If I don’t get a bite in an area I know holds fish or looks like it should hold fish I’ll usually throw a bait for a good fifteen twenty minutes before changing to something else.
When the water turns colder, what waders do you use for wading the Susquehanna River?
As for waders, I have two different pairs. First is a cheaper off brand bib style from Walmart that’s a little bit lighter weight wise but are not the thickest material. I’ll use when the water temps are still in the 60’s.
I also have a pair of Korkers with interchangeable bottoms which also have Thermoslate inside them for the cold months. Having felt bottoms is key I believe when wading in the water.
Most importantly, what are some of the safety practices that you use to keep yourself safe when fishing your section of the river?
I always have someone with me especially in new areas when wading the Susquehanna River. Even more so anytime I ever go wading, I’m never alone. And I also make sure someone knows where I’m at. The river is beautiful and peaceful but also powerful and dangerous. It’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
I love your posts on Instagram as a lot have an inspirational quote with them. Why is it important for you to do that along with your fishing pics?
I’m glad you ask that. My inspiration comes from within. I’ve been down a dark road that most can’t come back from. I won’t go into detail and get off track. But people need more hope and inspiration.
Let’s face it. The world is cruel and unkind and more love needs to be spread. Fishing literally saved my life, and I wanna share my experience with others who’ve had some dark times and help them unlock there true potential. Fishing has been my saving grace and maybe it can be someone else’s.
Who are your current sponsors/pro staff companies?
And I’m prostaff for Fishgang, Cypress Outdoors, American Tackle, Tristate Outdoors, Rough Thumb Fishing and Woo Tungsten. They have all helped me grow as a fisherman and supplied me with a few of their fishing related products/apparel. They have also helped me get my name out there through social media along with unlocking my potential to becoming something more than just an average shore fisherman and fishing professionally one day. Best way to put it is that they are helping me get the platform I need in the fishing world.
Thank you so much Duayne! Love your perspective on fishing and life. Will be following on Instagram @duaynefoust.
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