HARRISBURG — It’s hard to believe it has been 50-plus years since Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released their third studio album with the tongue-in-cheek title “We’re Only In It for the Money.”
Unfortunately, there is nothing humorous about that title when it relates to the services provided by some professionals in the outdoors industry who seemingly take to heart the Steve Miller Band classic “Take the Money and Run.” Fortunately, the majority of guides and outfitters are honest business people with the commitment and experience to provide their clients with a quality and successful experience.
Count Rod Bates of the Carlisle-based Koinonia Guide Service among that majority, as he and his staff have become recognized as one of the elite guide services on the Susquehanna River. Having fished his entire life on the Susquehanna, Bates consistently uses his knowhow to put his clients on fish and has the professionalism to make each trip an unforgettable trip with extras such as a DVD of the outing.
Koinonia Guide Service specializes on catch-and-release trips for smallmouth bass and flathead catfish and also offers walleye and channel catfish charters. A member of the Bass Pro Shops pro staff, Bates has earned the sponsorship of Team Catfish, Plano Tackle Systems, Sick Custom Baits, Fitt Premium Lures, PRADCO, STC and Mercury.
“When I have clients on my boat, my goal is to give them a total experience and go away with an appreciation of the gift God has given us in the Susquehanna River,” Bates said. “First and foremost I will do everything in my power to see that they catch fish, which means as many fish as possible and as many big fish as possible.
“My goal is to also give them an understanding of how we’re able to locate fish in different water and weather conditions and at different times throughout the year. I also explain why we’re using certain lures and why they’re effective.”
As an added bonus, Bates has been known to have a stash of snacks — which from time to time can be smoked salmon from one of his Alaskan trip or smoked venison sticks. And, be it a half — or full-day — charter, the time on the water goes much too fast.
This week Bates will be sharing his techniques and methods for success with a series of seminars at the Hawg Trough during the Great American Outdoor Show at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex at Harrisburg. His topics are “Bass Fishing on the Susquehanna River,” “Catfish Fishing on the Susquehanna River” and “Fishing Basics for the Novice.”
Following each formal presentation time will be allotted for a question-and-answer session. If needed, anglers can visit him at the Koinonia Guide Service booth and ask additional questions.
Bates will discuss seasons and tactics for catching smallmouth bass, flathead catfish and channel catfish on the Susquehanna with a review of such items as equipment, lures, water conditions, techniques and general guide lines that will help catch more fish. His seminar for novice anglers will focus on general guide lines that will help catch various species of fish, covering items such as gear, baits, lures, common mistakes and general guide lines that will help catch more fish.
“Many novice anglers fail to understand the importance of developing a pattern for the four seasons of the year,” Bates said. “I will spend time on how to locate fish, what lures to use, how to retrieve and the equipment to use during the winter, spring, summer and fall.
“When finding a pattern that produces consistent results, create a log to record the information and consider downloading the information on a cell phone to have on the boat. Another important tool is developing a network using tackle shops, professional guides and Internet sites.
“Finally, be aware of rising and falling water conditions, observe water clarity when choosing lure colors and what to throw, and my Golden Rule is there is no Golden Rule, so don’t have blinders and be afraid to experiment. Remember, boat control and concentration are important so be aware of speed and cadence and how the fish are responding.”
If there is a bottom line as to the ability of Bates as a guide, there is no better recommendation than saying he’s so good that even outdoors writers catch fish when in his boat.