2014 Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River Delaware River - Philadelphia, PA, Aug 7 - 10, 2014

The Delaware River: It’s something else

Courtesy of Charlie Hartley

About the author

Charlie Hartley

Charlie Hartley

After a career as a professional skateboarder, Charlie Hartley began fishing B.A.S.S. events in 1993.

The Delaware River is something else when it comes to bass fishing. Here, near the launch ramp, there are huge ships — check out the picture of the M S C here — as well as grass, pads and laydowns. And when I say laydowns, I mean just that. They are not twigs. They are massive trees. I’m looking at one this morning that a fellow could flip and pitch for at least a half-day.

But if you go upstream a ways it’s a totally different river. You can see shoals and riffles that look like they should be fished for smallmouth or maybe trout with a fly rod. The water is clear with sparkles of sunlight reflecting off it. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

In the same area, there are lots and lots of small creeks and tributaries running into the river. If you can catch the tide just right, they are fishable. Note, however, that I didn’t say they were full of bass. My bite has been pretty tough, overall. I’m in no position to tell anyone how many fish are anywhere in this river.  

There are plenty of animals running around up there, too. Yesterday I saw a brood of baby ducks and a bald eagle sitting on a big tree limb watching them. They didn’t seem to be concerned about the bird, although I would have been if I’d been one of them. They kept swimming and the eagle kept sitting. I guess they had worded out some kind of deal, maybe peaceful coexistence.

I was fishing a spot not too far from there yesterday and had a couple of bites. The fishing only lasted about 10 minutes, though. Then there was nothing. I wanted to stay and check things out more thoroughly but I couldn’t. Another 10 minutes and I’d have been sitting in mud waiting for the next high tide. The tide on this river waits for no one, and it doesn’t know what forgiveness means.

From what I can see, my experience isn’t unusual. Keeper bites are hard to come by so the deal is to not ever lose one. You have to fish hard, stay alert and treasure every fish in your livewell because in the end 1 ounce could cost you a win or, at the very least, a lot of money.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not every tournament needs to be, or should be, a heavyweight shootout. Giant bass are wonderful creatures. I love every single one I catch. It’s fun to weigh 20-pound sacks, but fishing is a skill.

We have to show our stuff when it’s tough. That’s what we’re about. Sometimes it’s good to be tested by a tough fishery and tough conditions. It keeps us on our toes and reminds us that big bass aren’t necessarily the norm everywhere in our country.

I want to end by saying that I hear Tommy Biffle’s wife, Sharon, is doing better. I’m glad to hear that. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a heck of a lot more important than a fishing tournament.

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