If you want really big fish, head to the Jersey shore as stripers up to 50 pounds are being caught says our fishing contacts at On the Water Magazine.
According to Capt. Phil Sciartino from the Tackle Box in Hazlet, stripers are hot in the bay. Bunker chunking around the Old Orchard site was producing stripers up to 50 pounds. The Keansburg Pier was also yielding some linesiders with a few bluefish mixed in.
Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright says stripers, weighing in the teens, were coming from the Shrewsbury River mostly at night using chunks and plugs.
The Reel Seat Tackle Shop in Brielle reports monster bass were being caught on the troll between Sandy Hook and Seaside. They also reported the surf bite is improving with stripers, blues, kingfish even a few fluke being hooked on clams, worms and bunker chunks. They suggest trying some shads and metal spoons for bass and blues.
Tackle World in Rochelle reports customers are finding bass and blues in Raritan Bay and fluke in Shark and Manasquan rivers.
Fisherman’s Den in Point Pleasant said sea bass anglers are catching fish as fast as they can unhook one. Boaters are getting two and three at a time.
Gabriel Tackle in Brick says stripers and some bluefish are coming from around the Mantoloking Bridge and from the Manasquan River.
If you don’t want to drive to Jersey, there’s still some decent local angling action.
Mike from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth reports shad fishing is winding down in the Delaware River, but catfishing it hot as is the smallmouth bass bite. And just recently he’s been getting some reports of stripers being hooked in the Delaware. As for Minsi Lake, trout fishing there is excellent especially from boats. Boaters are trolling spinners and picking up some decent size trout. Mike recommends boat anglers use the East launch site. Shore anglers are using PowerBait for trout. Also some bluegill and pumpkinseeds are falling for worms and small spinners in the Lehigh Canal in Freemansburg and Bethlehem.
Willie form Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon reports decent trout action on the Lehigh River from Canal Park upriver to the dam. Most action coming on medium shiners and night crawlers. Some catfish, catch-and-release smallmouth bass and some fallfish (chubs) are being hooked while fishing for trout. Willie said he’s already caught fallfish up to 14-15 inches. “They look like a shad and fight like a trout, Willie recalls, but not many anglers keep them.”
Of the local streams, Little Lehigh is the best bet as it’s holding leftover trout from thanks to recent stockings from the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery.
Up at Leaser Lake, Willie says anglers are catching-and-releasing sizable muskies on live bait. Also some catch-release largemouths, a few crappies, sunnies and one walleye was reported. But no trout.
Beltzville Lake and Lake Wallenpaupack are yielding some stripers and bass, but mostly in the evenings.
Chris, from Chris’s Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, says Ontelaunee Reservoir was hot for catch-release largemouths on rubber worms but their spawn is about over and the once hot bite has calmed down. Ontelaunee crappie bite is fairly good there and they’re eagerly hitting fatheads.
Blue Marsh Lake catfishing has been good for anglers throwing large pike shiners. Largemouth action is fair while smallmouths are more active and eager to hit skirted hair jigs and rubber-tipped jigs.
Leaser Lake is on fire for catch-release muskies. One customer had four last week, one was 40 inches. All are falling for large minnows. Mike, a regular customer, fished Leaser last Wednesday and had a phenomenal day from shore by latching onto a few largemouths, crappie, perch and four muskies. But no trout.
Bass season officially opens June 12 on lakes (except for Leaser), ponds and streams. At that time, anglers may keep six of combined species (smallmouths and largemouths).
EVINRUDE BOAT MOTORS TO BE DISCONTINUED
BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) recently announced it has re-oriented its marine business by focusing on the growth of its boat brands. As such, it will discontinue production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines. Its Sturtevant, Wisconsin, facility will be repurposed for new projects to pursue the company’s plan to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience on the water. Evinrude has building outboards for anglers and recreational boaters for 110 years.
In a press release, the company CEO stated, "Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately,” said BRP President and CEO José Boisjoli. “This business segment had already been facing some challenges, and the impact from the current context has forced our hand. We will concentrate our efforts on new and innovative technologies and on the development of our boat companies, where we continue to see a lot of potential to transform the on-water experience for consumers."
Following BRP’s decision, the company has signed an agreement with Mercury Marine to support boat packages and continue to supply outboard engines to its boat brands. BRP will continue to supply customers and its dealer network service parts, and it will honor manufacturer limited warranties, plus offer select programs to manage inventory. These decisions will impact 650 employees globally.
If you fish any stream in the city of Allentown, and catch a trout or two in early summer, you have three sportsmen’s groups to thank, as they replenish city streams with trout after the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s (PFBC) final spring stockings.
Of the trio (Lehigh Fish & Game, Trout Creek and Pioneer Fish & Game associations), Pioneer is the second oldest of the three with Lehigh Fish & Game Protective being the oldest and about to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
Today, Pioneer celebrates 85 years of existence as it began life on Jan. 31, 1935 when a group of local sportsmen met at Pioneer Fire Hall (where the club derived its name), at 8th & Tilghman Streets in Allentown.
During that meeting, it was agreed members would endeavor to insure that the Jordan Creek in Allentown would be stocked regularly, and to make anglers aware of how the fish and game commissions operated.
On March 21, 1935, the newly formed group obtained their charter from Lehigh County Courts. And on March 25, 1935, Jordan Creek received a stocking of brown trout through Pioneer’s efforts.
That same year, the group helped the game commission stock pheasants, rabbits and quail on lands open to public hunting in Lehigh County. Shortly thereafter, the group decided to have an annual fishing contest and award members with prizes for catching the largest fish. And that included any member who shot the largest buck.
By the end of their first year, according to the organizations’ history, the club signed a total of 246 members with a dues of fifty cents.
In March 1936, Pioneer initiated their Reforestration and Water Conservation program for the Jordan Creek. From that, 15,000 trees were purchased and planted along the Jordan Creek. They subsequently planted 4,000 seedlings over succeeding years. In its first 10 years, the club planted over 40,000 trees along the Jordan and its tributaries.
These are but a few of Pioneer’s many accomplishments that included trapping/transferring rabbits and pheasants within the city, then releasing them on open hunting lands, working on a soil erosion program, and in 1937, sponsored a Coonhound Field Trial for the new Lehigh County Coonhunters Association.
Club membership eventually outgrew the fire hall and their meetings had to move to the American Legion Hall on S. 7th Street in Allentown. It was during that time that a picnic was planned and fishing contest held along Jordan Creek at Helfrich Springs.
Most importantly, and as it stands today, Pioneer along with their membership in Lehigh County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, cooperated in having the City of Allentown purchase the Trexler Trout Hatchery (now the popular, Lil’-Le-Hi Trout Nursery).
Pioneer was proud of the fact that with dues revenue of fifty cents, they were able accomplish all that and more.
Today, club membership has dwindled from its high of 2,314 in 1945 to considerably less today. According to Pioneer spokesperson, Mike Cech, many older members passed away and it’s tough to entice young members in todays busy climate. The club no longer charges dues but maintains through contributions that primarily helps defray cost of fish food and overall upkeep at the nursery. They used to host fishing contests but Cech said because of costly insurance requirements, the club could no longer afford to do so.
Currently, Pioneer members volunteer their time and muscle to feed the trout at the hatchery on weekends, as city workers feed them during the week. Club members also clean the many trout holding tanks at the nursery and assist in stocking fingerlings in the tanks the fish commission provides and where trout grow and eventually get stocked annually in late spring and early summer.
Aside from the work members do every Tuesday, the club’s most enjoyable job is the stocking of Little Lehigh, Jordan and Trout creeks within the city.
Todays members range from a few youngsters like Alex Seagreaves to 87-year young Al Halman, the oldest working member.
If any sportsmen or sportsgals are interested in joining Pioneer, stop by the nursery from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Tuesday. Members there will whole-heartily welcome you.
With the spring gobbler hunting season underway, it’s interesting to note that for the first time in history, and during the 2019 spring turkey season, not a single hunting-related shooting incident was recorded, a time that historically garnered the most of these incidents. And the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) hopes that continues for 2020.
According to the PGC, hunter-safety results from the 2019 spring turkey season are part of a larger report on hunter safety. Overall in 2019, reports the PGC, there were 26 hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) – injuries caused by sporting arms while hunting or trapping. It was the seventh consecutive year with fewer than 30 HRSIs and one of the safest years on record. However, and sadly, four of the incidents in 2019 were fatal, but the PGC doesn’t indicate in what seasons those occurred.
The PGC has compiled data on HRIs since 1915. The agency establishes incident rates by computing the number of accidents per 100,000 participants. In 2019 the incident rate was 3.06 whereas for 2018, the rate was higher at 3.16.
PGC reports that 58 percent of 2019 incidents were inflicted by others, and the primary cause of HRSis, while 42 percent was a victim being in the line of fire. The second most common cause was the unintended discharge of a firearm.
Aside from there being no HRSis in the 2019 spring turkey season, there were none in the fall turkey season as well. The PGC attributes this and nearly an 80 percent decline in incidents, to hunter-education training that began in 1959. For example, in 2019, 30,821 students (22,526 traditional classroom courses and 8,295 online students) took the course run by 1,828 volunteer instructors that teach Pennsylvania’s basic-safety and advanced hunting skills.
My son and I took the course at Grouse Fish & Game Association’s Grouse Hall in Ironton when he was 12 and now he’s 48. I have a buddy who, many moons ago, once joined us to small game hunt and I had to show him how to load his pristine Browning A5 semi-auto shotgun. He never took the course.
WHITEHALL’S 2020 ANNUAL FISHING DERBY CANCELLED
According to Michele Dragovits, Whitehall Township’s Recreation Bureau secretary, this years Annual Fishing Derby for youngsters 15 and under and held in Hokey Park in Hokendauqua, had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 virus. The annual event would give out prizes for biggest fish and in four age groups.
This year’s derby was to be sponsored by Willie Marx’s Bait & Tackle shop in Cementon.
Last Wednesday, volunteers from Pioneer Fish & Game and Lehigh County Fish & Game associations, stocked trout from the Lil Le Hi trout hatchery in a portion of the Little Lehigh Creek in Lehigh Parkway. Fish were stocked from Bogert’s Bridge and downstream to the metal bridge at the entrance to Allentown Police Academy.
Also receiving a second stocking two weeks ago was the Lehigh River from Northampton upriver. The river gets stocked by Lehigh River Stocking Association who have made the river an enhanced fishery.
After a cold and unseasonable weekend, this week’s forecast of temperatures in the 60s should allow better fishing conditions.
Before the cold front hit, anglers were picking up trout from area streams and the Lehigh River. In particular, the Little Lehigh from Bogart’s Bridge downstream that was stocked last Thursday with fish from the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Hatchery. And from stream reports, anglers there were picking up some sizable trout. One angler caught and released 21 on the day after the stocking so there should be a lot of leftovers.
As for the Lehigh River that was stocked by the Lehigh River Stocking Association from Northampton upriver, Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon said the dam area in Northampton/Cementon sides were producing trout as was the portion of river in the Slatington stretch around the Rte. 873 bridge. Willie said most guys are using fathead minnows, night crawlers, Blue Fox spinners and Weaver’s Grabber spoons (a local lure maker). And trout are ranging from 13-19 inches with an occasional lunker.
Up at Leaser Lake, Willie said not many anglers are lake fishing as yet but he hears anglers are picking up some bass, crappies and muskies. At Mauch Chunk Lake it’s mostly crappies on minnows.
Chris from Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, reports Ontelaunee Reservoir in Berks County is fishing excellent for catch-and-release bass that are being enticed with rubber skirted jigs and Senko worms. Crappie and catfish there are also starting to turn on.
At Leaser Lake, bass up to 5 pounds and over are being caught and Chris added that it’s common to catch 3-4 pounders mostly on jigs. Muskie action was slow there but should pick up again with warming weather.
Blue Marsh Lake, also in Berks County, is fishing good for catch-release bass since the opening of trout season and crappies there are starting to hit, the latter favoring fathead minnows.
Mike, from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth, said the shad bite is on in the Delaware River and they’re being caught from below Easton on up to the Delaware Water Gap. Most are being hooked on darts and flutter spoons and there’s a mix of roe and bucks.
And while on the subject of shad, it’s not known at this time why the Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Associations’ Shad Hotline phone numbers were disconnected. They were always a good shad fishing source. But anglers can go to the associations Facebook page and click on their “Fishing Log” for timely angler reports.
And then there’s commercial shad fishermen Steve Meserve, who hasn’t had much luck in his annual shad netting operation on the Delaware River. His problems were either storms that made the water high and unsafe with lots of debris, or cold river water temperatures.
Mike went on to report that Minsi Lake trout action is good. One customer came in and said he caught 11 the last few days, one of which was a 21-inch Palomino. Orange Power Bait appears the bait of choice for Minsi trout.
When asked about Delaware River stripers, Mike said he hears most action is south around Philadelphia and Delaware Bay area.
On the saltwater scene, On the Water Magazine reports the striper spawn is on and they’re making their way from Delaware Bay up past Delaware and along the Jersey coast.
For southern New Jersey, the magazine says stripers are active around most sod banks, bridges and inlets. Bluefish too have started to arrive at some of the inlets and areas up to Brigantine. They added that drum fishing has been hot with the Delaware Bay the most productive at Tussey’s slough, Pin Top and the Punk Grounds.
In northern New Jersey, they report blues have shown up in Raritan Bay, Shrewsbury and Naversink rivers. Boaters are hooking stripers on bunker spoons, Mojos, live bunker and bunker chunks around Hazlet, while beach anglers are using worms and chunks at night.
Sportsmen have a choice what to pursue right now, be it spring gobblers, trout, shad or stripers. All that’s needed is cooperating weather.
Wildlife Research Center has an urgent request for Pa. sportsmen to voice their opinions on the PGCs deer scents/CWD edict
The following is am urgent request from the Wildlife Research Center regarding deer scents and CWD in Pennsylvania:
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has introduced a 2nd generation of their CWD Response Plan, which unlike the first generation, proposes to ban the use of all scents and attractants in the entire state. We are encouraging hunters to contact the Commission and comment before May 7th to oppose this part of their plan.
Sample Email below
SUBJECT: Oppose statewide ban of all attractants.
Comments: Write a brief note opposing this specific part of the proposed regulation. You can use these points to guide your note:
1 Using natural deer scents is a long tradition for Pennsylvania hunters, and there are urine-based products from responsible sources with carefully monitored deer herds that are tested to make sure they do not have CWD prions.
1 There are several scent companies that are testing their product for CWD prions using the same test that was used to discover prions in urine. The RT-QuIC test is sensitive, reliable and peer reviewed. Products that have been tested have a recognizable logo on them.
1 Other states have required scents come from the ATA Deer Protection Program. Less than a dozen collection facilities have met the rigorous standards of this program that goes far beyond USDA requirements, including having closed herds, enhanced fencing requirements, annual testing and tracking.
1 Natural urine attractants that are applied in less than 1-ounce quantities during hunting season are not a major congregation risk compared to the millions of gallons of urine deposited by wild deer. If anything, using these products adds additional scent locations to what occurs naturally and makes the hunt more successful, both of which aid in reducing congregation.
1 Regulations should protect the deer herd with the least possible disruption to hunters. A blanket prohibition of scent products appears to be intended to be “easy to enforce”, but in practice will do nothing to reduce risk of CWD spread. A targeted regulation that allows scents from ATA Deer Protection Program facilities and/or is tested prior to distribution via RT-QuIC is a more reasonable alternative that doesn’t disrupt hunters.
Please include your name and address. More information on PGC’s CWD Plan can be found at: https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Documents/CWD%20Response%20Plan.pdf
Thank you for your help on this important issue,
Wildlife Research Center, inc. | 14485 Azurite St NW, Ramsey, MN 55303 | (763)-427-3350
Since we’re in the midst of a lockdown of sorts because of Covid19, many sportsmen may not be working so this could be a good time to do some house cleaning of your trophy mounts, be it antlered, bear, birds or fish.
If you have deer mounts in particular, there are a few methods to clean their hair. To do it properly and without ruining a shoulder mount, Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Taxidermy in Orefield, recommends the following:
*Danenhower says the first step is to remove dust from hair. This can be done by using either a feather duster, canned air or a small brush that usually comes with most vacuum cleaners, to remove the dust. But he cautions to do it carefully with the brush and not apply too much pressure. Long time accumulation can turn to a mud-like substance.
*Next step is to use a lightly damp, soft cloth and add a touch of Dawn dish washing soap and brush the hair with the grain to remove any remaining dust or dirt. Rinse the cloth often making sure not to saturate it as the deer hair will nap-up. Then lightly go over it with a soft bristle brush in the direction of the hair’s grain.
*After that, spray a cloth (gun patch) or Q-tip with some Windex and clean the eyes. Follow up with a piece of paper towel to remove any excess.
*For antlers or horns, clean off any dust then use some furniture polish to regain their sheen.
*To maintain a deer mounts’ hair, Danenhower uses Cowboy Magic spray that is available from taxidermists.
*For mounts that may have cracking, split ears or jaws, it’s a re-fresh job that requires a taxidermist as they have the equipment to restore the mount.
*As for birds like pheasants, grouse, turkey or waterfowl, be extremely careful and don’t go crazy feather dusting it or wiping it down, Danenhower cautions, as birds are touchy and sometimes the job is better left to a taxidermist.
*For fish mounts, Danenhower recommends also wiping them down with Dawn dish washing detergent. “Sometimes there may be fly or bug droppings on them. The skin could also have oil seepage,” he points out. “Not many taxidermists like to re-work fish because their skin is extremely thin and prone to cracking,” he adds.
So with these suggestions, maintaining trophy mounts now can go a long way to preserving them in the future.
LCF&G ANNUAL FISHING DERBY
It’s with much disappointment that Herb Gottschall, Jr., President of Lehigh County Fish & Game Association, had to announce that this years annual Fishing Derby in Lehigh Parkway had to be cancelled.
Said Gottschall, “After several meetings with representatives with Allentown Police and Parks Department, an agreement was reached to hold this years 87th Fishing Derby on May 16. But that was before the Coronavirus came along. So we had to cancel it.”
Gottschall goes on to say he’s already making plans for next years’ derby which will be the organizations 100th Anniversary, and because of that, it will be a two-day event.
The clubs’ Booster Night was also cancelled because the hall rental went up 500 percent from last year and the organization was already on the verge of bankruptcy until Midgard Plastics stepped in to be LCF&G’s first corporate sponsor.
An exact date will be forthcoming for the next derby.
There will be yelps, clucks, purrs and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods when the statewide spring gobbler season gets underway Saturday (May2). And according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the month-long season that ends May 30 should be a good one.
According to the PGC, the statewide flock, expected to mirror 2019’s estimated spring population of 212,170 turkeys, has been aided by good reproduction last year, declining participation in fall seasons, and a mild winter with abundant natural foods.
Mary Jo Casalena, PGC turkey biologist says, “A strong base of old toms is strutting in our forests and fields in their annual quest for companionship followed by a healthy population of high-spirited jakes. There’s also a good supply of 2-year-olds roaming in some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). Last spring, hunters took 37,300 turkeys, which was down from 2018’s 40,300. The harvest generated a spring hunter first-turkey success rate of 19 percent and has ranged 19 to 21 percent for the past three years.
A good number of hunters bought second gobbler tags – 22,517 – marking the third consecutive year second-tag sales topped 20,000. Those second tags led to 4,811 harvests, making for a 21 percent success rate for those who purchased a second tag. Interestingly, only 13 percent of spring-turkey hunters bought a second tag.
Hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (May 2 through May 16). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. when hunting hours end at noon. This is to minimize disturbance of nesting hens, says the PGC. Hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon. Junior hunters and mentored youth also may participate in the statewide spring gobbler season. From May 18 through through May 30, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. The all-day season allows more opportunity at the point in the season when hunting pressure is lower and nesting hens are less likely to abandon nests.
Here are a few hunting reminders from the PGC:
*Only bearded birds may be harvested, and hunting is permitted by calling only.
* Hunters should refrain from knowingly harvesting bearded hens.
* There is no requirement for hunters to wear fluorescent orange during the spring turkey season, though it is recommended that orange be worn while moving.
* Blinds used while turkey hunting must be manufactured with manmade materials. It’s unlawful to hunt turkeys from blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks. Added to that, blinds representing the fanned tail of a gobbler do not hide all hunter movement, and therefore are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
* Pennsylvania resident hunters can purchase a license ($21.90) to harvest a second gobbler in the spring season, but only one gobbler may be taken per day. This license must be purchased no later than May 1.
* Successful turkey hunters must immediately and properly tag the bird before moving it from the harvest site, and are required by law to report the harvest to the Game Commission.
Casalena pointed out that this past winter the PGC leg-banded over 300 turkeys statewide. If lucky enough to harvest a leg-banded turkey, or find one dead, she asks hunters to please contact the PGC through either the toll-free telephone number or email address printed on the band. In return, Casalena will provide details of when and where the bird was tagged. From these reports, the agency can estimate spring harvest rate and annual survival rate by wildlife management unit, which are critical elements of our turkey population model.”
TURKEY HARVEST PHOTO CONTEST
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is sponsoring its fourth annual Turkey Harvest Photo Contest, and hunters submitting the photos of themselves with their 2020 Pennsylvania gobblers are eligible to win one of two personalized, engraved box calls. Entries will be narrowed to a field of finalists in each the adult hunter and youth hunter category, with one winner in each category then selected by voters on the PGC’s Facebook page.
But you must enter to win. Hunters should be sure to submit photos of their 2020 Pennsylvania spring turkey harvests by email to email@example.com. Submissions should include the first and last name of anyone in the photo, the hunter’s hometown and the county in which the turkey was harvested. The contest will run from youth season April 25 through Monday, June 1, with the winners selected shortly thereafter.
The Pennsylvania Game Commissioners gave final approval for the 2020-21 hunting/trapping seasons and bag limits with some significant changes. They are as follows:
Expanding Sunday hunting on three days – Sunday, Nov. 15 for archery deer hunting, Sunday, Nov. 22 for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday, Nov. 29 for deer hunting during the firearms deer season.
Adopted a 14-day concurrent firearms deer season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 WMUs and retaining a split-season in the remaining 13 WMUs.
Extended the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 20, giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post rut activity.
Opened squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12 to create more opportunities for younger hunters to get afield.
Shifted the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday – adding an additional Sunday opportunity for bear hunters.
Brought back a three-day Thanksgiving turkey season, running
Wednesday through Friday in select WMUs; removing the Thanksgiving turkey season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E, but making the regular season two weeks (Oct. 31-Nov. 14) instead of one.
Increased the bear hunting opportunities for archers by adding a week to the archery bear season and creating an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons.
Moved the start of the extended bear seasons to Monday of the first week of firearms deer season in all WMUs with extended bear seasons.
Permitted either-sex pheasant hunting statewide, outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
The commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be allocated, as well as the number of elk licenses to be allocated for the coming license year as follows:
The board voted to allocate 932,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 903,000 licenses allocated for 2019-20. Some Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) increases were tempered by the addition of a 14-day seasons to WMU’s containing Disease Management Areas. Allocations by WMU are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 1A – 49,000 (49,000); WMU 1B – 41,000 (35,000); WMU 2A – 46,000 (46,000); WMU 2B – 49,000 (54,000); WMU 2C – 58,000 (52,000); WMU 2D – 60,000 (66,000); WMU 2E – 39,000 (32,000); WMU 2F – 36,000 (31,000); WMU 2G – 27,000 (26,000); WMU 2H – 7,000 (6,000); WMU 3A – 21,000 (20,000); WMU 3B – 33,000 (38,000); WMU 3C – 49,000 (46,000); WMU 3D – 36,000 (25,000); WMU 4A – 49,000 (41,000); WMU 4B – 33,000 (32,000); WMU 4C – 32,000 (36,000); WMU 4D – 45,000 (46,000); WMU 4E – 37,000 (34,000); WMU 5A – 26,000 (22,000); WMU 5B – 60,000 (67,000); WMU 5C – 70,000 (70,000); and WMU 5D – 29,000 (29,000).
The board also voted to issue 164 elk licenses (36 antlered, 128 antlerless) across three 2020-21 seasons. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 2-7, 26 antlered and 78 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 12-26, 10 antlered and 16 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 34 licenses available for a late antlerless-only elk season to run from Jan. 2-9.
All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.90, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.70. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.
While carrying firearms generally is prohibited while bowhunting, archery deer hunters long have been permitted to carry muzzleloaders to hunt deer during times when the archery and muzzleloader deer seasons overlap. But a change approved by the PGC Commissioners will allow properly licensed hunters to carry both a bow and muzzleloader afield when an archery deer season overlaps with a muzzleloader bear season, as well. The rule also applies to an archery bear season that overlaps with a muzzleloader deer or bear season.
A muzzleloader bear season that overlaps with the October muzzleloader deer season and archery deer season was adopted as part of 2020-21 hunting seasons, so a properly licensed hunter will be able to carry a muzzleloader to hunt bears and antlerless deer, as well as a bow to hunt antlered or antlerless deer.
DEER TAGGING CHANGES
Hunters with multiple deer tags must no longer tag the first deer they harvest before attempting to harvest a second. The board adopted a measure that makes effective statewide the tagging requirements that long have applied in the state’s Special Regulations Areas, where hunters possessing multiple tags may attempt to fill them without first tagging a harvested deer. The PGC said lifting the restriction benefits deer hunters with multiple tags, who no longer are forced to pass up opportunities to harvest additional deer.
MENTORED YOUTH HUNTER CHANGES
Initially open only to youth under 12, Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program has expanded incrementally in recent years to offer opportunities to unlicensed hunters of all ages. The PGC says that because the program is a tool to recruit new hunters, it only made sense to open it to everybody. But phasing-in program eligibility for hunters of different ages brought about a mix of different rules that many found confusing to follow – potentially undermining the goal of hunter recruitment. As such, the PGC Board adopted new standards that simplify the program and make it more uniform for hunters of all ages.
First off, mentored hunters of all ages now are eligible to hunt the same species. This expands opportunities in each age class and eliminates confusion about which species different-aged hunters may hunt.
Secondly, while mentored hunters under the age of 7 will continue to be issued permits that do not contain deer or turkey harvest tags – meaning the deer and turkey tags they use will continue to be provided through transfer from their adult mentors – mentored hunters of all other ages will be issued their own tags.
Finally, mentored hunters ages 7 and older now can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits, as well as migratory bird licenses and pheasant permits.
With the changes, all mentored hunters may hunt the following species: rabbit, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, bobwhite quail, pheasants, crows, squirrels, porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and wild turkeys.
Safety requirements that prohibit mentored hunters under 17 from carrying a firearm while moving, limit mentors to accompanying one youngster at a time, and require the mentor and mentored hunter under 17 to possess no more than one sporting arm between them, remain unchanged.
There may have been some skepticism regarding the abbreviated trout stocking that I heard about and mentioned in my previous column.
In case you missed it, I was informed that certain streams in Lehigh County will only get one in-season stocking that took place within the last two weeks. Some anglers couldn’t believe it, so I was able to contact Mike Parker, PF&BC Communications Director, who issued the following statement:
“We continue to stock trout every day across the state, 7 days a week. Due to the accelerated stocking schedule we are operating under, many waters will only receive pre-season stockings this year. That means that all of the fish that were allocated for a water, both pre-season and in-season, will be combined into a single stocking or two. The same amount of fish will be stocked, just not spread out over the season. I cannot provide any information about specific waters, but overall, this is our approach. Since March 17, we have been operating under the accelerated schedule, without volunteer assistance, in an effort to get our fish stocked before any of our employees became sick or further restrictions were placed on fishing. At this time, we have stocked about 2.25 million trout across the state. That is compared to 1.7-1.8 we stocked by the statewide opening day of trout season last year. There are plenty of fish to catch.”
So that official announcement should put the so-called rumor to rest.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT STOCKING
In past years, the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) would stock trout in portions of the Lehigh River the week after the state trout season opener. If tradition holds true for this year, considering the early state opener, LRSA could stock next Sunday (April 12).
STRIPED BASS FISHING CHANGES
For anglers who pursue the hard fighting stripers in the Delaware River, Delaware Estuary and West Branch Delaware River, be aware there has been some significant changes.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced changes to Striped Bass fishing regulations within the aforementioned waters. And the reason for the new rules is because harvest and delayed mortality of caught and released striped bass have reduced the coastal population below levels needed to sustain recreational angling experiences. Due to the negative impact on the fishery, harvest and terminal tackle restrictions are needed to help rebuild the coastal stock.
In accordance with a fisheries management plan adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC), the Striped Bass Management Board intended to reduce fishing mortality by 18 percent. As such, PFBC will change minimum size requirements and slot limits for harvesting Striped Bass in the Delaware Estuary, Delaware River, and West Branch Delaware River, and have enacted a mandatory circle hook requirement for anglers using bait while fishing for all species within the Delaware Estuary. These changes are effective beginning April 1, 2020.
These regulation changes, tackle and registration requirements do not apply to inland populations of Striped Bass or Hybrid Striped Bass.
Under the new minimum size limits, anglers will be permitted to harvest one coastal striped bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches in the Delaware Estuary (from the Pennsylvania line upstream to Calhoun Street Bridge) during the periods January 1 through March 31 and June 1 through December 31. During the period from April 1 through May 31, anglers may harvest two Striped Bass daily that measure at least 21 inches but less than 24 inches. In the Delaware River (from the Calhoun Street Bridge upstream) anglers will be permitted to harvest one Striped Bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches year-round.
To further meet the requirements, the PFBC will require anglers who use bait to fish in the tidal Delaware Estuary, including tributaries from the mouths of the tributaries upstream to the limit of tidal influence, to use non-offset (in-line) circle hooks. The use of non-offset (in-line) circle hooks is required over offset circle hooks because of their proven ability to hook fish in the mouth, simplify hook removal, and reduce injury to the released fish. Therefore, to address targeted and non-targeted Striped Bass release mortality, the circle hook requirement will apply to anglers targeting any fish species with bait in the tidal Delaware Estuary. This measure offers added protection to adult Striped Bass on the spawning grounds during spring and year-round protections to resident juvenile Striped Bass caught by anglers targeting other species in the tidal reach. For the non-tidal Delaware River, non-offset (in-line) circle hooks are strongly recommended when anglers target any species with bait.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission pulled a fast one on trout anglers. Instead of the consolidated Apr. 18 trout opener that was scheduled, a last minute decision from the PF&BC said trout season opened today, Tuesday, April 7.
According to Tim Schaeffer, PF&BC Executive Director, “We realize this change is a disruption to tradition.” He goes on to say that anglers still need to follow social distancing (6 feet apart and wear masks) and that trout that have been stocked have had time to spread out and so should anglers.
The decision to open trout season immediately is intended to discourage concentrated gatherings of people that may have occurred on the traditional opening day, to minimize intrastate and interstate travel, and to reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked, says the PF&BC. And it was approved in conjunction with Gov. Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pa’s DCNR.
Mike Parker, PF&BC Media Relations Director said, “Agency staff will continue to stock trout throughout spring, but not all waters have been stocked at this time. To further discourage public gatherings, a stocking schedule and list of waters that have been stocked will not be provided to the public this season.
In regards to this statement, a source said that the entire seasons allocation in Lehigh County streams had already been done last week. Meaning, if fact, there will not be any inseason stockings. However, it isn’t known if this was true for other Pennsylvania streams and lakes.
The DCNR will permit fishing and boating in state parks and forests but social distancing must be followed, but noted that restrooms at state park facilities may be closed. The agency is encouraging anglers to conduct outdoor activities within 15 minutes of their homes.
Also, the Mentored Youth Day will not take place this season, but the PF&BC will honor all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased in 2020 for all mentored youth fishing during the 2021 season.
I did a quick check at 10 a.m., April 7, on the Little Lehigh Creek in the area of the covered bridge in Lehigh Parkway, and saw seven anglers fishing that stretch so some anglers got the word on the revised, surprise opener. Also checked the Egypt section of the Coplay Creek and there were about 10 anglers there. One group did not adhere to the six-foot spacing rule as they were hopefully a nuclear family.
Some local bait and tackle shops were also taken by surprise of this revised trout opener. Bob Danenhower, from Bob’s Taxidermy and Tackle Shop in Orefield said he scrambled to get items priced and live bait containers ready after his phone began ringing early in the morning to inform him of the last minute announcement.
Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, had a phone message informing anglers to call and make an appointment to come in for bait and tackle as only a limited number of people were allowed in the shop at one time. The message said the shop was closed Tuesday’s so it’s unknown if that changed upon Willie learning of the new opener.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.