Downriver from Owego

Editor’s Note:  Unfortunately, I lost the pictures for this post in the process of downloading them to my computer.  What I don’t understand is how this could result in losing the pictures from my picture card as well.  Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of these pictures should report this information to the STFF Security Chief (that’s me, the editor, until a suitable candidate is found).  My apologies for a picture-less post…

Yesterday afternoon STFF Staff Hydrologist Dan made good on his promise to fish with me at a favorite spot on the Susquehanna, a spot he and another fishing buddy fished a number of times over the past few years.  The area we fished is just below the riverside village of Owego.  The name of this quaint village is a colonial bastardization of “Ahwaga”, the name the Iroquois gave to this place.  Ahwaga translates to “where the valley widens”, a most appropriate name.

Dan and I parked at a rest stop off Rt 17 just below the Owego exit and accessed the river through an infamous “hole in the fence”.  I could see by the wear in the steep path down to the river that this spot was frequented often.  We descended to the river and started by fishing a broad area at the base of the access point, a section of the river characterized by good current and difficult wading due to numerous boulders and a large cobble bottom.  The wind wasn’t helping our cause, howling up the river and in some cases causing whitecaps to form, but it wasn’t long before we started picking up a few bass – small but fat and feisty.  This part of the river is big and featureless at first glance.  It pays to fish with someone who knows the river; in my case I was relying on Dan.

The area we fished dumps into a long deep pool and at the end of that pool, the river doglegs to the right slightly.  Dan promised this was good riffle water, and after making the long walk downriver, I found he was grossly understating his claim.  There were not one, but three good riffles; a riffle on the left side that runs down a steep rocky bank, a riffle in the center, and a faster rapid that forms a deep eddy on the right side.  We fished the left side first and connected with bass pretty quickly. These bass were more of the same from before, with a few fallfish thrown in.

As the afternoon turned to early evening, the overcast sky opened up, the air warmed a little with the sun, and the wind began to drop.  A front had obviously blown through, as predicted by the weather forecasters.  We continued to fish the dogleg – all but the right side rapid which was not accessible by wading unless one got out of the river upstream and walked the bank down (I’ll save that water for tomorrow’s Owego to Nichols “bass express” canoe trip).  The fishing action seemed to cool down and as the sun started to drop, I headed upstream to the tail of the long pool to see if I could find some bass.  Dan stayed fishing the middle riffle, which caused me to suspect he was on to something.

A fairly reliable fishing pattern is to fish the tails of deep pools towards evening.  Bass are light-shy, but when the sun starts to drop, they will often drop back to the shallow pool ends to feast.  Many times you can catch these fish with a surface streamer, popper, or even by waking a big, well-greased fly, steelhead style.  I set up to do this, and was rewarded with another “chunk”, but that was about it.  It was getting late, and dark, and there was a bit of a hike to go to get to the access point.

As we climbed out of the river, Dan mentioned he had managed to raise a big guy in the middle riffle (confirming my earlier suspicions).  He was fishing a lead-eye “bugger” directly downstream when the fish apparently hit his fly with gusto – as in rod-jerking gusto.  He said he had it on a while and then, as if it had enough of playing around, and as smallies often do, it jumped high and spit the fly.  The smile on Dan’s face – the words describing the hook-up – that was enough to cap a fine evening on the river.

Stay tuned for more on this section of the river, and hopefully some long overdue pictures.

Tight lines…

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