Kayak fishing has grown in popularity so much so that there’s even competitive kayak fishing tournaments just like the various high-powered bass boat bass fishing tournaments where big bucks are at stake for the winners with the heaviest amount of bass in their boats live-wells.
The advantages of kayak fishing is that allows anglers to fish from a boat that costs less than most bass boats and allows anglers to fish shallow waters where bigger boats can’t reach. And since kayaks are quiet running, they also spook less fish.
Avid kayak angler Derek Sigler from Outdoor Hub site, says probably the first question prospective kayak anglers ask how do I cast from a shaky kayak. “When you try to cast for the first time you’re most likely to feel like the craft is going to tip over on you and it may just freak you out. When it gets wobbly just try to remember that the kayak was designed for this. It will get a little squirrely but you’ll be fine,’’ he admits.
He goes on to say “If you want to build up your trust factor, take the kayak and get in on some calm water. This can serve as a practice run. Start wiggling your hips so the boat starts bouncing from side to side, just like when you’re going to cast. Feel how the boat reacts to the motion. That should help build your confidence in the boat’s ability to stay upright. Remember to just flow with the boat. And when you decide to take a standing cast, and if you have a wide enough fishing kayak to do so, the same principle applies. Practice your standing balance and learn to move with the kayak before you try it when having all your gear onboard too.”
As for landing a fish, Sigler says this is the tricky part. “The best practice is to get the fish close to the kayak and then place your rod in the hand opposite of the side the fish is on. Use the rod hand to pull the fish toward the kayak, while also helping to balance the kayak while you land the fish. It’ll feel awkward at first, but will get better with practice.”
If you’re still nervous about standing in a kayak while fishing, there’s one company who make a set of clamp-on outrigger-type pontoons that add stability.
Even more effective is Freedom Kayak company’s Hawk model where the stern splits open by pulling a cord thereby adding substantial stability.
Some months ago, in an issue of On the Water Magazine, I recall reading where a saltwater angler fishing from a saltwater-type kayak managed to catch a sizable striper that pulled him around for about an hour until it tired and he could eventually land it.
Today’s kayaks come in several forms and lengths and some are offered with paddles to propel them instead of paddling. The latter gives more versatility when fishing, but because of the fins underneath the kayak, they can’t quite reach the very shallowest of water.
All in all, kayak fishing is a relaxing way to fish large or small bodies of water. Just don’t forget to wear a life jacket, at least one of the suspender type models that are less cumbersome.
Many homeowners in the suburbs of the Lehigh Valley, even in the city of Allentown, are reporting seeing white-tailed deer fawns feeding on their ornamental bushes and trees in their yards. They’ve become acclimated to living in populated areas since warehouses and housing developments have been driving them out of their normal woodlands. And to their benefit, they won’t be hunted here and will only meet their fate when hit by a vehicle as they cross heavily traveled roadways.
Since most fawns are born during May and June in northern environments, fawns born later than this are at a distinct disadvantage because they will not have adequate time to grow and develop before winter arrives again. Fawns in the South, however, are born over a much wider time frame since they aren’t as accountable to Old Man Winter, according to Kip Adams of the National Deer Association (NDA), a conservation group.
“The arrival of fawns is cued to align with the flush of spring vegetation because “green-up” provides does with the high-quality vegetation necessary for the final trimester of gestation and for the demands of lactation. Green-up also provides the low-growing vegetation that helps conceal fawns from predators,” said Adams. Healthy fawns say NDA, average 4 to 8 pounds at birth, and they will double that weight in approximately 2 weeks — a period during which they survive entirely on their mothers’ milk. However, by 2 weeks of age rumination begins in their stomach, and they begin to supplement their milk diet with forage. They will triple their birth weight within a month of age. And this change to greenery is being advocated for human diets as we should be following suit by eating more greens and vegetables.
NDA goes on to explain that weaning is not an instant switch but a gradual process in which the fawn consumes less milk over time while eating more green forage. Fawns can be completely weaned and survive without milk by 10 weeks of age (2? months), but does often wean them at 12 to 16 weeks (3 to 4 months). It’s not uncommon for hunters to see a May or June born fawn still nursing, or attempting to, in October (20-plus weeks). These fawns do not need the small amount of milk they receive at this time of year, if they get any, and it's believed it’s simply a bonding exercise for the fawn and its mother.
While we’re on this topic, did you know newborn fawns lack the ability to urinate or defecate? While nursing, the doe will lick their rectal and genital regions to stimulate them to release their wastes. The doe will then consume the urine and feces so their odors do not attract predators. Now that’s a responsible mother! The doe will continue this behavior for at least 2 to 3 weeks. A newborn’s inability to expel these wastes, coupled with the mother’s protective behavior of consuming them, undoubtedly saves countless fawns from predation.
Whitetail fawns are hiders rather than followers like moose calves or climbers like black bear cubs. Their spotted reddish-brown coat, as you may know, is designed to blend flawlessly into a range of forested and open environments. Even as newborns, fawns will nurse and then move away from the doe to bed, that’s typically when good meaning folks think the fawn was abandoned. This behavior removes the doe’s scent from the fawn’s bedding site and is an anti-predation strategy. Twin fawns will also hide separately for their first three to six weeks to reduce the likelihood a predator will find both of them.
All of this information underscores the importance of quality habitat and diverse cover types. An abundance and diversity of natural plants in the understory ensures adequate milk and quality forage for fawns, as well as excellent cover to hide them from predators. All of this improves fawn survival, the health of the population, and, ultimately, the quality of your hunting experiences.
For all birders who maintain bird feeders, the Pennsylvania Game Commission requests you stop feeding the birds for now. And here’s why.
According to wildlife experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and officials from the PGC, there are reports of songbirds becoming sick and dying due to a health condition.
Most recently, the PGC has recently received multiple reports from Chester County of nestling and fledging songbirds who have developed ocular or neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.
Reports have also been received from 27 other counties that include Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York. Nationally, cases have been reported in TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH and FL.
So far, 12 species have been affected. They are: Blue Jay, European Starling, Common Grackle, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee and Carolina Wren.
Until this songbird mortality event it resolved, the PGC is asking folks to please stop feeding the birds because congregating birds could potentially transmit the disease.
As of July 1, 2021, there have been reports from public observations of both adult and young birds exhibiting signs of the condition. The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions, and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.
Experts are encouraging the public to follow five precautionary measures until more is known:
*Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths to prevent the spread of this disease to other birds and wildlife.
*Clean feeders and bird baths with 10 percent bleach solution.
*Avoid handing dead or injured birds and wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle or move a bird.
*Keep pets away from sick or dead birds.
*To dispose of dead birds, place them in sealable plastic bag and discard it with your household trash.
The game commission asks to report any occurrences of these sick birds online at https://bit.ly/3htNiaJ.
JUNIOR GAME WARDEN CAMP OFFERED
The PGC’s Southeast Region will be hosting a Junior Game Warden Camp on July 30, 2021 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center located at 100 Museum Road, in Stevens, Pa. (Lancaster County).
This one-day camp is offered to youths ages 11-15 and is a structured, fun-filled day learning about the career of a Pennsylvania Game Warden.
Participants will learn about wildlife crime forensics, methods wardens use to catch poachers, how to solve wildlife related crimes, wildlife capturing techniques, handling wildlife nuisance complaints, wildlife research, woodland tracking and outdoor survivor skills in addition to some light physical fitness.
Juniors will take home a JGWC t-shirt, JGWC patch, water bottle, backpack and survival kit. Bottled water and bag lunch will be provided.
Registration is limited to 30 campers so call Middle Creek Wildlife Center (717-733-1512) for details.
Although deer hunting season is a few months away, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reminds hunters that antlerless deer licenses went on sale July 12. For nonresidents, it’s July 19.
Hunters should note that there are a few changes this year as antlerless licenses have increased slightly in price.
According to the PGC, antlerless license fees haven’t increased since 1999. However, since vendors operating the licensing system increased their fee from 90 to 97 cents, that resulted in an antlerless license increase that will now cost $6.97 for residents and $26.97 for nonresidents.
The PGC points out that it’s imperative hunters use the 2021-22 application and envelope that reflects the price increase not an older one as your application will be rejected.
As a reminder, up to three applications can be submitted in the same envelope for a total reflecting the new price of $20.91. Checks and money orders must be payable to “County Treasurer” with a list of participating county treasurer’s and their addresses found in the 2021-22 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, or, viewed online at the agency’s website.
According to the PGC, if any Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) have remaining resident and nonresident licenses, hunters may apply for a second license beginning Aug. 2 and a third license Aug. 16. Those applications are accepted by mail only, not over-the-counter. And the proper remittance mailed in the pink PGC envelope.
Of course, hunters must first purchase a general hunting to be eligible for an antlerless deer license. For hunters who purchased their general license online, but haven’t received it, they can obtain an antlerless deer license application through the white-tailed deer page at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Hunters should note the total number of antlerless deer licenses have been reduced from 932,000 to 925,000 for the 2021-22 hunting seasons. This is attributed to the move to allow concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer statewide during the 14-day regular firearms season. As such, the PGC says antlerless licenses could sell out at a faster pace this year. In WMU’s closest to the Lehigh Valley, only WMU 4C saw a decrease from last season going from 32,000 to 29,000. Otherwise, local 5C remained the same at 70,000; 5D stayed at 29,000; 3D remained at 36,000 and 4E increased from 37,000 to 42,000.
Hunters now can hold up to six unfilled antlerless licenses at a time and can apply for additional licenses as they harvest deer and report them.
Over-the-counter sales of antlerless tags for an WMU where they remain will begin Sept. 13. During this time, licenses for any WMU may be purchased from any county treasurer, either in person or through the mail.
Back again this year, participants in Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program who are at least 7 years old, can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits. DMAP permits are used to harvest antlerless deer on specific properties.
In past years, mentored hunters could harvest antlerless deer only if their hunting mentor held a valid antlerless license or DMAP permit and transferred the permit to the mentored hunter following a harvest.
Additionally, and with hunting licenses, mentored hunters over 7 must have valid mentored hunting permits before applying for antlerless licenses or DMAP permits. Qualifying mentored hunters may purchase no more than one antlerless deer license.
As we’re in between hunting seasons, now that spring gobbler season ended and the dove season is two months away, there’s another seldom hunted small game species that can allow you to stay on top of your wing shooting prowess.
That small game species is crows. Yes, crows. They’re plentiful, tough to hunt, and do make good table fare.
They’re also nest robbers. For example, I saw a crow fly into an arborvitae tree across the street from my house where I’ve been watching doves feeding their young. This crow snatched a newborn dove and flew to the top of a utility pole where it began tearing off its feathers then eating it.
Hunting crows can be tricky as they are very smart, says the folks at American Gun Association. Because of that, the association offers these crow hunting tips for beginner and seasoned hunters alike.
*Their first tip for crow hunting is to hunt early mornings and late evenings when crows are most active. The remainder of the day they usually just roost or forage.
*Calling crows into range is especially productive and can be performed with a typical mouth crow call or electronic call that is often used for coyote hunting.
*Crows are very visual birds and rely heavily on sight when it comes to danger assessments. Setting up decoys helps draw them in. However, decoys should be set in areas where there are other birds as crows will have more confidence flying into there. Crows aren’t easy to trick so make your decoy spread realistic as possible even using a motion decoy or two.
*Like dove hunting, try to locate a flyway or ask a farmer who normally detest crows because they destroy crops. Attempt to find where they roost, eat, drink and rest. Crows also love to bathe so take note of any puddles and bodies of water as well as holes where water might pool up around the area in a field.
*Since crows are very fast, agile and wary, wear camo clothing and choose a fast, light load shotshell in 12, 20 or 410-gauge.
Keep in mind, Pennsylvania’s crow season runs from July 3 to April 11 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. And there is no limit.
Lastly, breaded crow breasts make good table fare that can be prepared similar to chicken breasts with a seasoning of two of your choice.
WINCHESTER AMMO RECALL
Olin Winchester is recalling lots of 9mm Luger 115 grain Full Metal Jacket and 115 grain Jacketed Hollow Point pistol ammunition.
If you were fortunate to find and buy 9mm Winchester ammo before March 25, 2021, it is not subject to this recall.
Winchester has determined lots of 9mm 115 grain FMJ and JHP ammo may contain propellant that does not properly ignite and burn when the cartridge is fired. Ammo containing propellant that does not properly ignite and burn may result in a bullet remaining in the barrel (i.e. a bullet-in-bore obstruction). Firing a subsequent bullet into the bore obstruction could cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable and subjecting the shooter and bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury, says Winchester.
To determine the lot number of the affected ammo, check www.winchester.com or call toll free 844-653-8358. You may also write Winchester at 600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, ILL 62024. Winchester will pay for the return shipping and re-ship replacement ammo or reimburse customers.
With schools and colleges out for the summer, families are heading to New Jersey shore points. And when they do, saltwater fishing can be the thing to do.
Our saltwater fishing reporters from On the Water Magazine offers these promising places to try your luck for some bigger-than-trout fish.
*Tackle World in Rochelle Park reports the striper bite in the back of Raritan Bay is hot using chunk. Rick Hebert from Tackle World, said his brother and crew caught and released close to 80 stripers last week.
*Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright reports fluke are being caught in the surf with mostly shorts but a few keepers mixed in. Best bet for them is Gulp baits and bucktails. There are also some small bluefish scattered along the beaches with short bass in the surf as well. Giglio’s says fluking has been decent in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, however shorts outnumber keepers.
*Tak Waterman B&T in Long Branch, said a new body of bluefin tuna moved in with fish in the 30 to 40- pound range. They’re being taken on the troll with jigs and popping plugs. Mike Gleason at Tak’s said the tuna were feeding on a mix of sand eels and squid and they fell for 60-80-gram streaker jigs. He added that there’s still a good striper bite to the north on Spooks and other top water plugs with fish in the 20-pound range. Fluking is picking up in both rivers and in the surf where striper action keeps getting better in the Ocean Grove/Bradley Beach surf area for anglers using sand crabs, small plugs and epoxy lures.
*Fisherman’s Den, Belmar, NJ, says the offshore seas bass bite has been good while fluke fishing has been productive in the rivers. Bob Matthews at the Den, said the surf bite for striped bass has been good on clams and sand bugs. Linesiders are hitting good at night in the rivers on shads and live eels. Finally, he offers that the offshore folks are enjoying a renewed tuna bite.
*Side Job Charters’ Capt. Jay Richardella, based in Belmar, has been getting into bluefins as he and crew placed second in the Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club Bluefin Open last week. They weighed a 47 pounder and managed to go 12 for 13 on bluefins.
*Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick, reported the overall offshore bite is picking up with excellent reports of shark fishing on the reefs. (If you’ve never eaten shark, the Paddock Restaurant off Walbert Avenue in Allentown occasional offers “shark bites” appetizers when shark is in season). Frank Gabriel at Gabriel’s, said the bluefin bite is improving daily while the surf is yielding stripers and blues on bait and there are plenty of both in the Manasquan River.
*Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, reports stripers and blues are being caught in Barnegat Bay by the Mantoloking Bridge on plastics, plugs and metal. On the beach, Bill at Charlie’s said Kettle Creeks and small plugs have been working for stripers and bluefish right at the lip in the wash. He hinted that teasers improve your chances.
While on the subject of stripers, there have been several Facebook postings of huge stripers coming out of Pike County’s Lake Wallenpaupack at night.
If you’re wondering where all the ammo is, and heard all the stories and rumors, ammunition makers say they are running at capacity and never, ever experienced this much of an increase in ammo sales.
It’s attributed in a large part they say, to first time gun buyers who crave ammo for range shooting and that number reached over 8 million in gun sales in 2020 and to date. And because of unrest in parts of the country and the current government administration pushing for gun control and the crazy defund police movement, gun buyers are hoarding ammo in case they may need it. Then there are those who buy as much as they can to re-sell it at ridiculous prices (price gouging).
So, what does the future of ammo look like for the remainder of 2021? The following was released by Southwick Associates who do annual surveys and extensive research on topics related to the fishing, shooting, outdoor retailer industry. The following is their outlook as to what the next months may bring.
Southwick says, 2020’s uncertainties boosted ammunition demand to record levels. Going forward, the question within the trade is “how long is current demand sustainable?”. To help provide insights, Southwick Associates polled the market.
In April 2021, Southwick surveyed hunters, recreational shooters, and firearm owners and found 72% had purchased ammunition within the past 12 months. Based on more than 1,800 responses, their feedback includes:
* Out of stock issues in 2020 and continuing into 2021 have caused 50% of hunters and target shooters to cancel or reduce the amount of target shooting and hunting activities they normally would have engaged in:
In 2020, four out of five encountered out of stock issues when trying to purchase ammunition.
o Three-fourths tried to purchase ammunition during the first quarter of 2021 but encountered out of stock situations.
* Expect ammunition demand to remain high: Nearly 2/3 indicate their current ammunition inventory is lower than they would prefer (64%).
o When asked how much more ammunition they would like to have on hand, 43% reported much more while 38% reported a little more. 17% were satisfied with the amounts they had on hand.
* When asked why they desire more ammunition, responses include: Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
o Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%)
o Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%)
o Wanting to participate in hunting and target shooting more often (26%). This was more common among younger consumers.
When will demand soften? Certainly, at some point it will. However, the frenzied purchasing often feeds further increases in demand. Considering ammunition manufacturers still have significant backorders, and considering Southwick does not see demand softening at least through the second quarter of 2021, the ammunition shortages should at least continue through the second quarter of 2021 and for most of the year.
Second only to trout, black bass are the most popular sportfish in Pennsylvania. And the season for them kickes off this Saturday - minus the crowds of the trout opener.
The bass season opened with a creel limit of six and a minimum size limit of 12 inches. Despite this, most bass anglers wisely practice catch-and-release. It’s not because largemouth and smallmouth bass aren’t good eating, because they are. It’s because they’re more fun to catch-and-release as they can be caught again another day, especially when using lures as compared to live bait which could be swallowed and injuring the fish.
While smallmouth bass are predominately a river and stream fish, they can be caught in any one of Pennsylvania’s 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, most of which contain both bass species says the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PF&BC).
Of that number and for those new to the area, here are the more popular local waters that hold bass.
Blue Marsh Lake is the largest lake in the county where motorboats with unlimited horsepower can be used. It’s located off Route 222 northwest of Reading and in the area of Bernville.
Then there’s Ontelaunee Reservoir, also located off Route 222 in Maiden Creek Township. This impoundment has to be fished from shore (or wading) as no boats or watercraft are allowed. This lake probably holds the largest bass of any lake around this and other counties mainly because access is limited. Incidentally, you may latch onto a snakehead fish. If you do, it’s recommended it be dispatched as it’s an invasive species that no one seems to know how they got in the lake.
Lake Nockamixon, located between routes 313 and 412 outside of Quakertown, this expansive lake has a 10-hp limit on outboard motors. It has an extensive shoreline that contains good fish structure. It’s the premier lake in this county as it contains hybrid striped bass as well.
Beltzville Lake is an elongated lake that has no power limit for boats and is a popular bass water with Preachers Camp area being one of the hotspots. It’s located off the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike outside Lehighton.
Mauch Chunk Lake is much smaller in size (330 acres) as are the bass there. While there are some lunkers, many of the fish are on the stunted size but still fun to catch and release. Chunk is located on Lentz Trail Road west of Jim Thorpe.
Leaser Lake is producing some lunker bass but must be immediately released as only trout may be kept. Huge muskies too are being caught and they must also be released.
Locust and Tuscarora lakes, located west of Barnesville near Route 52, offer 52 acres of fishing at Locust Lake and 100 at Tuscarora. Both hold good populations of largemouths, albeit small ones with an occasional keeper.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, Shohola Lake is prime bassin’ waters in that it’s shallow and loaded with above water structure. It holds some 8-pound largemouths. This is an electric motor-only lake that’s located off Route 6 between Milford and Lake Wallenpaupak. When bass fishing there many moons ago, I caught/released a huge snapping turtle that hit my white spinner bait.
This is but a fingernail summary of some of the local favored bass fishing waters. But don’t overlook farm ponds. You may be surprised as to the size of bass in these small waters.
For the 19th time, competitive shooting superstar Doug Koenig, a former Alburtis resident now living in Hamburg, Pa, has won the prestigious and competitive Bianchi Cup National Action Pistol Championship held May 24–28 at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club in Hallsville, Mo. After firing all four events, Koenig ended the match with a score of 1920-182X.
This is the 19th Bianchi Cup Championship victory for Koenig, which is the most of any competitor in the history of the match.
"I just finished the 42nd Bianchi Cup and proud to have won my 19th Cup. Congrats to all the winners for a great match in some tough conditions. Thank you as well to Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club for running a great championship and to all the match sponsors. I’d also like to thank my sponsors Ruger and Hornady for their support. I could not do what I do without them."
Bruce Piatt, the 2019 Bianchi Cup Champion, also finished this year's match with a perfect 1920 score, but he was down from Koenig in the X-count, and finished second.
Becky Yackley won the 2021 Bianchi Women's Cup with a final score of 1908-139X. Her score placed her 13th among all the competitors. In addition, her son Andrew Yackley secured the Bianchi Cup Junior Championship with a score of 1882-134X.
The Bianchi Cup is a championship match for the shooting sport now known as NRA Action Pistol. Action Pistol encompasses a number of set stages that are somewhat confusingly called “matches” or “events”, with the aggregate score of several being combined into one “course of fire” to determine winners and placement. Classically, the Bianchi Cup events are the Falling Plates, the Moving Target, the Barricade, and the Practical.
One of the defining features of Action Pistol is that each event is shot on a par time. Instead of scoring based on how fast competitors can shoot the required targets or number of rounds, competitors have limited time, counted in seconds, and limited number of rounds to shoot the best score possible. With most events being composed of strings of six rounds or less, revolvers have a special home in Action Pistol where they can compete on equal ground with semi-automatic pistols.
Except for the Falling Plates, Action Pistol events are shot on cardboard “tombstone” targets. The best Action Pistol shooters are able to shoot the 8-inch circle of the 10-ring and the black 4-inch X-ring inside of it consistently at distances out to 50 yards and under time pressure. Bianchi Cup champions in the open division, using optical sights, regularly score a perfect 1920 points, though the perfect 192x to go with it has been elusive.
As for Koenig’s experience, it spans nearly three decades of professional shooting. He attributes his success by incorporating a strong work ethic into his practice sessions mostly at Topton Fish & Game Association’s ranges where he does the majority of his practicing.
Koenig was born and raised in Pennsylvania and began shooting competitively at the age of 17 winning both regional and national competitions. In 1990, Doug turned pro as a competitive shooter. Since that day, his list of accomplishments and championship wins continues and may never be surpassed. He holds more than 70 National and 10 World titles including an unprecedented 19 times as a Bianchi Cup Champ. He’s also a lifelong hunter and hosts his own TV Show, “Doug Koenig’s Championship Season” on a cable channel.
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.