With vacation being foremost for many families this month, perhaps a trip to the shore is in the offing. If so, it may be a good time to take in some saltwater angling as the New Jersey shore points are reporting good action for a variety of species.
Our fishing contacts from On the Water Magazine report the following from the popular northern New Jersey coast.
*Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said fluke are getting the most attention however swings in water temperature had an impact on the bite. There were some decent catches in Raritan Bay and the Verrazano Bridge
*Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, reports numbers of blues and fluke are being hooked at the Rip on Sandy Hook. Blues are also showing up along the Sandy Hook beaches. Anglers fishing with killies are getting fluke at Keansburg Pier while porgies are being caught at the Tin Can Grounds and Rockaways.
*Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright, said blue fishing is going strong in the Shrewsbury River with fish in the 2-10 pound range being hooked early in the morning on topwater plugs. Sand bugs are still picking up stripers in the wash and there are fluke in there as well. Fluke in the surf are just so-so. Crabbing, which is great for kids to do, is picking up in the Shrewsbury and Naversink Rivers.
*Mike Gleason, at TAK Waterman in Long Beach, said fluking in the surf has been steady while it’s been a bit inconsistent for boat anglers. Water temps have been fluctuating and that’s been affecting the bite. But there’s plenty of triggerfish on the jetties and inshore pieces. As for tuna, Gleason says it’s been a tricky season so far as there are bluefin and yellowfin offshore but fishing for them is hit or miss. Stripers, he reports, are hitting plugs at first light off the beach. Stripers continue to hit sand crabs in the Ocean Grove surf and fluke are also in the wash and hitting sand crabs and Gulp baits.
*Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, said fluke are active in Shark River with party boat anglers latching onto fish up to 9 pounds. Stripers, blues and triggerfish were being taken at Shark River Inlet. Anglers fishing the surf are hooking fluke, kingfish, blues and stripers with the top bait for stripers being sand crabs while Gulp and bucktails are luring fluke to hook.
*Pete Kupper, at Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, reports the summer routine is in progress with fluke, blues, stripers and crabs the main bites. He goes on to say fluke are in the wash and eating sand crabs and Gulp, while bass prefer clams and sand crabs. Blues on the other hand are chasing mullet and metal. He added that crabbing in the back bay is improving.
Trout action has been a surprise at Leaser. Yes, you read right, trout. Guess the muskies didn’t eat all of them as a friend managed to land a plump 20-inch rainbow last week on an ice jig as he was fishing for crappie. At first he thought he hooked a musky as the trout fought hard.
If you hit Leaser on the weekend, prepare for lots of company with kayaks, canoe’s and paddleboards being plentiful all over the lake.
Turkey hunters will be glad to hear about the opening of a shotgun patterning range on State Game Lands on SGL 205 in Lehigh County.
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Southeast Region Director, Peter Sussenbach, announced the opening of two newly constructed archery ranges and a new shotgun patterning range on state game lands in Lancaster and Lehigh Counties.
A newly constructed archery range is located on State Game Lands 046 in Lancaster County, at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, at the Willow Point parking area, off Hopeland/Kleinfeltersville Road, in Clay Township. A new shotgun patterning range and a new archery range are both open for use on State Game Lands 205 in Lehigh County, off Warden Road, in Lowhill Township.
“With the growing popularity of archery hunting, especially in the Southeast Region, we are pleased to be able to provide these two new archery ranges to bowhunters and recreational archers. The new ranges will enable archers to hone their skills and, in turn, become more proficient and ethical hunters.
Also, just in time for Fall Gobbler Season, a new shotgun patterning range was opened at the range complex on State Game Lands 205, in Lehigh County. We’ve also made substantial improvements to the existing Rifle Range there. All three ranges meet ADA specifications to accommodate shooters with limited mobility,” said Sussenbach.
The newly constructed archery ranges provide shooting distances of 10, 20, 30, 40 & 50 yards. Each distance has two, 4-foot by 4-foot commercial quality targets designed for field point or broadhead use.
The new shotgun patterning range on State Game Lands 205 consists of two shooting stations with shot collection structures designed to secure paper targets (not provided) at 25- yard and 35-yard distances.
The construction of, and the upgrades to state game lands ranges are funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, most often referred to as the Pittman–Robertson Act. Pittman and Robertson Act funding is derived from the federal excise tax on the sale of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment.
Future range enhancements are planned for the State Game Lands 205 range complex with the addition of a Pistol Range slated for 2023.
More specific information about state game lands shooting ranges, including range regulations, and driving directions, can be found at State Game Lands Ranges (pa.gov).
To use the ranges, sportsmen need to possess a valid hunting or trapping license. or a range permit for $31.97.
ANTLERLESS DEER LICENSES SOON TO GO ON SALE
Deer hunters are reminded that for residents, antlerless deer hunting licenses will go on sale July 11, and July 18 for nonresidents. Then on Aug.1, the first round of unsold licenses will go on sale followed by the second round of unsold on Aug. 15. Then on Sept. 12, licenses can be purchased over the counter for WMU’s where licenses remain.
FREE FISHING DAY JULY 4
From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, July 4, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission is hosting a Fish for Free Day when no fishing license is needed to fish commonwealth waters. It's a great time for those who have been considering fishing but were reluctant to buy a fishing license if they didn't like it. It's also a day when those who fished but gave up the sport to try it again.
For Lehigh Valley golf fans, this is the week to see senior golf pros at their best during the USGA’s U.S. Senior Open Golf Tournament being played at local Saucon Valley Country Club. The tournament runs June 23-26 at Saucon’s famed Old Course.
Of the 77 fully exempt golfers who will play, the only fan favorite and big draw that won’t be there is Fred Couples. Couples has withdrawn from the tournament with the USGA not providing a reason for Couples’ withdrawal.
I had the pleasure of bumping into Couples several years ago in British Columbia while I was there for a new car introduction. As I descended in the elevator of the hotel I was staying at, when the doors opened at the first floor, there stood Couples and his dog waiting to get into the elevator. Surprised to see him, all I could muster to say was “Hi Freddie” and he replied in his normally cool way of, “Hey how’s it going.” I subsequently learned his was there to play the now defunct golf tournament hosted by Shell oil company.
But there will still be familiar names playing in the field such as Fred Funk, Rocco Mediate, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, David Duval, Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and other notables that reigned on the PGA Tour.
If you are attending, be aware that there will be no paper tickets offered so it’s best to apply online now. Tickets can be displayed on your smartphone via the AXS app that’s offered when purchasing tickets online. Tickets will be delivered to your AXS mobile app for iOS and Android phones.
As there are four ticket packages available, Gallery tickets provide general admission to the Open and Saucon Valley Country Club’s grounds to walk the course and watch your favorite players. With this ticket, you’ll have access to the grandstands and opportunity to purchase food and beverages at concession stands around the course, according to the USGA. Gallery tickets also provide complimentary parking at an off-site location with shuttle service to and from SVCC. For more timely information contact the USGA Sr. Open Championship Office at 484-223-3295 ext. 2 with ticket questions or issues. Tickets can be ordered by visiting www.ussenioropen.com.
LIL-LE-HI TROUT HATCHERY
According to Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh Fish & Game Association, there was supposed to be two remaining trout stockings in selected streams from fish in the hatchery, but because of an infestation of Mudsnails on the trout, Pennsylvania Fish Commission biologists have put those stockings on hold as they don’t want to spread the contamination to existing trout in area streams.
One of the remaining stockings could have been used for the upcoming July 4 Free Fishing Day when a fishing license is not needed to fish commonwealth waters. It would have been a nice enticement to try the sport.
Gottschall also apologizes to anglers who were bothered by some of the stocking crew during the recent Lehigh Fish & Game Association trout fishing contest on the Little Lehigh. The organization was celebrating their 100th Anniversary and Gottschall was angered that anglers were harassed.
Now that all major hunting seasons are over, there’s still coyotes to pursue and they can be a challenge for even experienced hunters.
Coyotes are notoriously wary and difficult to call in as that’s the popular way to hunt them. The folks at Convergent Hunting, a Texas-based game call manufacturer that makes everything from mouth and hand calls to smartphone-controlled calls and decoys, say that successfully calling-in one of these critters provides an adrenaline rush that can fetch a few dollars for their pelts.
Convergent says that calling in a coyote presents a real challenge to a hunter of any skill level, especially those new to the sport. Convergent offers some tips to help get the most out of your next hunt for these “yotes” as they’re called, and who kill fawns, birds, rabbits and pets among other prey.
My son once related a story to me where his buddy shot a spring gobbler in Berks County and before he could retrieve it, a coyote ran up, grabbed it and ran off with his bird. Seems they’re also opportunists.
Convergent Hunting offers these tips that could help coyote hunters be successful.
First tip, don’t give away a free education. They claim that with many new and inexperienced hunters heading afield, it’s common to see older, cheaper calls getting airtime in the coyote fields. The result is a highly call-literate population making these wary critters even more challenging to call into shooting range. A call with poor sound quality, is a way to give coyotes a free education.
Second tip, stick to the basics. Instead of getting fancy with exotic call patterns and advanced hunting strategies, the best way to improve your coyote hunting game is to drill on the fundamentals. This includes setting up appropriately for wind direction, maintaining concealment and mastering the use of a good electronic call with a few high-quality sounds, A premium electronic call helps newbies, in particular, and hunters of all experience levels to produce the most consistent calls.
Third tip, use better calls to produce better, more realistic sounds. Many older electronic calls typically feature a horn-style speaker sound and run off AA batteries, neither of which is ideal for creating quality sound claim Convergent.
Now may be a good time to try this sport if you haven’t already as litters of from 5-7 coyote pups are born from mid-April to early May and they need to be fed. As such, their parents are out looking for food in daytime hours even though coyotes are mainly nocturnal feeders.
While coyotes have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including in the city of Allentown where one resident posted a photo of one on a community website walking down the street in the West End. They’ve also been seen in the Stiles, Egypt, Ruchsville, Orefield and Salisbury Township areas. And a buddy used to trap them at the rear of Cedarbrook Nursing Home. But they’re typically found in heavily forested, dairy and cropland areas. Coyotes prefer heavy brushy cover such as clear-cuts (a good place to hunt) and along edges between forest and agricultural areas where prey is abundant.
Most importantly, pay attention to wind direction as yotes have a ultra-keen sense of smell.
Since the inseason trout stockings are over until fall, now may be a good time to head to the Jersey shore for some big fish like stripers and good eating fluke.
According to our fishing reporters from On the Water Magazine, the striper bite in Jersey rivers, bays and surf is good. They report some very big fish are falling for clams on the beaches, especially to the south.
Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said stripers are hitting with regularity in Raritan Bay and anglers are throwing 2 and 3-ounce Mojos, plugs and shads and flutter spoons.
Mike Pinto, at Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright, reports striper fishing remains good in both the Shrewsbury and Naversink Rivers with anglers luring them with bucktails, shads and especially Savage Shads. More bass are showing up on the beaches and hitting clams, worms and paddle tails. He added that fluke are also biting in the rivers but could be a little spotty.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, said there are lots of bass in Raritan Bay and the rivers, however they are a little more scattered.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, reports the opening sea bass season saw some nice fish being caught and there’s good fluking as well in Shark River. The striper bite in local waters has the Belmar Marina bustling with action. He said more stripers are showing up in the local surf with clams, worms and bunker chunks all catching fish.
Pete Kupper, at Charlie’s Bait & Tackle in Normandy Beach, is receiving good striper reports from the surf with bass eating fresh clams, SP Minnows and metal-lipped swimmers. He goes on to say the back bay is holding plenty of bass with the evening into the night offering the best time to fish. Plus, an occasional weakfish is turning up with shads and small plugs luring them to hook.
Ray Kerico, at Grump’s Bait & Tackle in Seaside Park, said the beach fishing for stripers is outstanding with big fish being caught almost entirely on clams. He happily adds that anglers are having difficulty finding slot fish as many of the bass are now over 40 inches. Fluking too has been good in Barnegat Bay as is blue fishing that are in the 10-pound range.
Jason Szabo at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach, reports stripers are in the Manasquan River at the Route 35 and 70 bridges and in Point Pleasant Canal. Fluking there is also on the uptick for anglers using light jig heads tipped with Gulp bait and squid strips. A few weakfish and blues have also arrived.
WHITEHALL FREE KIDS FISHING DERBY SET
As a reminder, the annual Whitehall Township Fishing Derby for youngsters is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, at Hokey Park on Lehigh Street in Hokendauqua. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. prior to the contest casting off at 9 a.m. The contest runs until 12 noon.
According to Michele Dragovits, Whitehall Township Secretary, over 100 trout will be stocked in the Hokey Creek the morning of the contest. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in four age groups of 6 and under, 7-8, 10-12 and 13-15. Plus, there will be a special prize for the overall largest fish.
Due to the pandemic and other factors, the Lehigh County Fish & Game Associations’ (LCF&GA) annual Fishing Derby in Lehigh Parkway was cancelled over the past two years. But this year it’s on and set for Saturday, May 7 for the children’s derby, and Sunday, May 8 for the adult derby.
Children ages 15 and under may fish on May 7 for a registration fee of $5, while adults 16 and older require a $10 registration fee.
According to Herb Gottschall Jr., president of LCF&GA, 2,300 brown and brook trout will be stocked for the two-day tournament. This supplements the trout that the state stocked last Friday plus the trophy golden rainbows LCF&GA stocked two weeks ago that were donated by Cabela’s in Hamburg.
Gottschall added that several tagged and trophy trout will be included in the 2,300 for which kids can get a prize for tagged and the largest fish.
Entrants must bring their own tackle and preferred baits or baits may be purchased on site at Archery at the Glenn’s booth.
Trout for the children’s derby will be stocked from the foot-bridge in the parkway, downstream to the Robin Hood bridge. And for the adult derby, from the police academy road downstream to Robin Hood.
Both derbies begin at 8 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. But early arriving anglers should note that the 12th Street parkway entrance road will be closed until 5:30 a.m.
On Saturday, there will be entertainment by the Barn Burners orchestra.
This year’s Fishing Derby also celebrates the associations 100th birthday. Gottschall said he is waiting to receive a proclamation from the City of Allentown and the state to commemorate the association’s birthday. Questions can be emailed to Gottschall at hgottshall&Verizon.net.
PFBC URGES ANGLERS/BOATERS TO HELP PREVENT SPREAD OF MUDSNAILS
As the trout season is in high gear, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission reminds anglers to check their clothes and gear after fishing for the invasive New Zealand Mudsnails.
According to the agency, New Zealand Mudsnails can be found on rocks and vegetation and are easily spread to new waters by attaching to waders, fishing gear and boats.
Said Sean Hartzell, PFBC Invasive Species Coordinator, “Because these snails are so small, they can be hard to notice. It takes but one small snail to start a new population. It’s vital for anglers and boaters to disinfect their gear after every fishing or boating trip.”
Mudsnails have been found in numerous lakes and streams in Pennsylvania and more locally they’re found in the Little Lehigh Creek, Jordan Creek, Trout Creek, Bushkill Creek, Saucon Creek, Monocacy Creek, Pohopoco Creek in Carbon County, Lehigh River and Schuylkill River in Berks/Montgomery counties.
The PFBC recommends cleaning waders and gear by freezing gear for at least six hours, soaking gear in hot water greater than 120 degrees for at least five minutes, or soaking gear for five minutes in a one-one solution of water and Formula 409 Cleaner/Degreaser disinfectant.
There will be lots of clucks, purrs, yelps and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods beginning April 23 when the one-day junior and mentored youth spring gobbler hunting season kicks off. That will be followed by the statewide turkey season that runs April 30 until May 31.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission says more than 150,000 hunters will take to the fields and forests to lure in a spring gobbler. According to May Jo Casalena, PGC turkey biologist, there’s plenty of opportunity awaiting hunters as the statewide flock is among the largest anywhere in the East, and is likely bigger right now than at any time in the last few years.
Casalena attributes this healthy population to a good recruitment as dry, warm weather last spring, and in some places, lots of cicadas to eat, produced 3.1 poults per hen on average statewide.
She goes on to explain, “That was our highest ratio since we began monitoring recruitment and a smaller than usual spring 2021 harvest plus shorter fall turkey season in some Wildlife Management Units coupled to a statewide elimination of rifles for fall turkey hunting, all of which boosted flocks.”
Casalena added, “This should translate into a lot of high-spirited jakes and hunters should find a larger than-normal percentage of older, 3-year-old turkeys out there.
The PGC points out that these birds won’t necessarily be easy to harvest; neither jakes no older birds typically are as vocal as 2-year-olds, but hunters can up their odds by preparing before opening day by scouting. Casalena suggests looking for actual birds, turkey sign such as droppings, feathers, scratching’s and tracks. And above all, practice calling.
As for the latter, and if you’re in the market for a new turkey call, 4-Play Turkey Calls is a local company based in Bangor, PA that makes several unique box calls. They’re handmade by owner Brian Benolken and used by several pro turkey callers/hunters. Check out their fine line at 4PlayTurkeyCall.com or call them at 610-984-4099.
It’s important to note that the PGC admits success isn’t always guaranteed as only about 15 percent of hunters harvested one gobbler last spring. And about 18 percent of the near-record 25,210 hunters who bought a special turkey license or second gobbler tag, took a second bird.
As a reminder, hunting hours during the youth hunt end at noon while hours are one-half before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (April 30 through May 14). From May 16 through May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
Other reminders are that harvested birds must be tagged before moving them and hunters must report harvests within 10 days either by visiting www.pgc.pa.gov and clicking on “Report a Harvest,” by calling 800-838-4431, or sending in the harvest report card in the Hunting/Trapping Digest that came with the hunting license. Leg banded birds feature a toll-free number along with an email address to report it.
Two more reminders. Ticks. Yes, they’ll be abundant so hunters should spray their clothing before going afield. And be conscious of any Avian influenza infected birds that could look unhealthy such as stumbling, circling, exhibiting tremors, with a twisted neck or unable to fly.
With the flocks of robins we’ve been seeing in the Lehigh Valley, these as well as doves and phoebes will begin searching for a place to make nests for their egg laying.
But unlike many birds that commonly use nest or bird boxes, these three species in particular don’t use nest boxes like, for example, bluebirds use to lay and hatch their eggs. Robins, in particular, use a nesting shelf that could consist of a flat spot under a patio deck, under a porch roof, door wreaths even hanging baskets.
For birders who maintain bird feeders, building or buying a nesting box could supplement your backyard avian of sorts.
Nesting shelves are designed to as an airy nesting platform with inward curving side walls that provide an even more open view. The roof should slope downward with an overhang to keep the interior dry and to protect eggs and nestlings.
If you’re inclined to build a nesting shelf, three-quarter inch pine wood is recommended with the outer diameter being at least 10 inches wide, 10 inches deep and nine inches high. The shelf opening should be at least 7.5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high. Once completed, it can be mounted on a tree, wall or post.
Other cavity nesting birds such as barn swallows and catbirds may also use the nesting box.
If opting to buy one instead, they’re available at BestNest.com and labeled as a Prime Retreat. According to their site, they sell for $29.99 plus shipping.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is once again livestreaming two eagle cams on their site. To view them go to Pennsylvania Game Commission then click on the Bald Eagle Watching link. There you’ll find Farm Country Eagle Livestream and Hanover (Pa) Eagle Livestream. The Farm County camera shows three eaglets while the Hanover camera appears to have one eaglet. They’re interesting and enjoyable to watch.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT STOCKING
It’s been common for the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) to stock a portion of the Lehigh River the week after the state trout opener. But because of the heavy rains we had, the Lehigh River is high, muddy and ripping. So stocking has been postponed for five days according to the association’s website.
If you’re not a member, you may want to consider joining as the Lehigh is an uncrowded fishery and the trout LRSA stocks, are sizable and generally larger than the fish commission puts in local streams. The association uses membership money and donations to buy trout they stock.
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.