When reading most fishing articles, whether they’re written by fishing pro’s or outdoor writer’s, a good percentage of them relate fishing tips and techniques when fishing from a boat. But what about us boat less anglers?
Dr. Jason Halfen, of The Technological Angler, a company dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch fish, has refreshingly good tips and techniques for those who fish from shore. After all, he claims, nearly everyone who gets their first start in fishing usually has cast a line from shore.
Halfen lists five tips when fishing from shore that will attempt to make the effort a bit easier.
1. Go Long: Since preferred structure fishing is limited to the distance covered by our longest casts, it makes sense to use a long rod. Halfen points to Euro-carp anglers using 13-foot rods are commonplace. He contends that long rods allow anglers to avoid entanglements with shoreline obstacles like weeds and brush when the rod’s length can elevate baits above those obstacles during the cast and retrieve. Secondly, long rods provide leverage to bring hooked fish quickly to shore and keeping them away from near-shore snags. Long rods also allow longer casts, something saltwater beach anglers benefit from when trying to reach deeper water. And when fishing for soft-mounted fish like shad, a whippy, sensitive rod balances the power to dominate larger fish.
2. Watch Your Line: Halfen says that shoreline hazards like rocks, thick brush, downed trees, underwater debris or docks, can play havoc with your fishing line. A frayed line could mean losing a trophy fish if it tears. To avoid this, the Dr. says to use a line tough enough for any shoreline application, like Seaguar AbrazX. The latter is a 100 percent fluorocarbon line fortified with advanced abrasive resistance. This line also retains softness for long casts and easier handling.
3. Check Your Jig: Halfen contends that one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to target fish from shore is with a jig. By selecting jigs of different weights, they can present a wide variety of both live and artificial baits through any portion in the water column. A light jig, he believes, can be dangled beneath a bobber or retrieved close to the surface. Or, choose a heavier jig to work the mid-range depths or bounce a bait along the bottom.
4. Keep Fish Nearby: While shore-bound anglers generally have limited mobility, Halfen says fish patrolling a stretch of shoreline or hopping among pieces of shore-line cover, might be within reach of an angler casting from shore for only a short period of time. As such and where legal, Halfen recommends BaitCloud, a unique product that will bring fish to your location and keep them there while you’re casting to them. BaitCloud, works by combining scent, sound and visual attractants into a single, easy-to-use, biodegradable fish attractant. And it’s available in a variety of formulations and recipes for bass, walleye or panfish, and is helpful in a lake or pond where there’s minimal current.
5. Travel Light: Halfen says that to enhance your mobility when fishing from shore, carry only what you need. “The less stuff you have to pack and move, the more often you will switch spots. Just like fishing from a boat or through the ice where mobility is the key to success,” he assures. Take the basics like jigs, bait, extra line even an old-school stringer. And pack everything in a soft sided tackle bag like a Plano Zipperless Z-Series with shoulder strap for easy of carrying.
Halfen believes shore fishing is a great way to reconnect with your angling roots and a good way to teach a youngster to fish.
Come Saturday, April 29 there will be clucks, purrs and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods. It’s when the much awaited spring gobbler hunting kicks off that runs until May 31, 2017.
Last year, there was 35,966 spring turkeys taken, which, according to Mary Jo Casalena, Pennsylvania Game Commission turkey biologist, was down from 41,200 the previous season. But she’s predicting that this spring season should be good because of a mild winter and that the fall turkey harvest dropped as a result of fall mast being spotty. This made the turkeys leave their usual haunts frequented by hunters as they headed to better food sources.
This may be evident again this year. The photo accompanying this column shows a gobbler pursuing a hen in the parking lot of Weavers Hardware Store in Fleetwood, Pa. Actually, there were eight birds there as they meandered around employees and customers’ cars in their parking lot. One employee said it appeared the birds were pecking at the doors of cars, perhaps because they saw their image in the doors. These birds evidently came from the mountain ridge that runs along that part of Berks County. Otherwise it’s all open farm land to the north of Weavers’ store.
In evaluating and predicting the upcoming spring season compared to last season, Casalena said, “Mild winters are easier on turkeys and helps them prepare for spring breeding. That should lead to a healthier turkey population and might put gobblers on a timeline to be exceptionally fired up when the season begins.”
She went on to say that poor weather through much of last season, including nagging drizzle on many mornings, played a part in the reduced spring harvest.
“Warm weather also sets gobblers on fire early. But then the weather turned nasty again and hens struggled, with many losing their first nest attempts. Their renewed availability at the start of the season led to gobblers chasing hens, instead of coming into hunters’ call,” she opined.
Interestingly, about 67 percent of turkeys in the 2016 spring harvest were adult gobblers, 23 percent were jakes, 2 percent were bearded hens and 7 percent were males of unknown age.
This, says the PGC, compares with the previous long-term average of 71 percent adult gobblers, 19 percent jakes, 4 percent bearded hens and 7 percent unknown-aged males.
To show turkey hunting’s popularity, Pennsylvania sold a record 19,796 second spring gobbler licenses in 2016. A 10 percent increase over the previous record of 18,085 licenses in 2014. This led to a harvest of 3,841 bearded turkeys last spring. That’s the second-highest total since the second license was first offered in 2006.
If you do bag a sizable gobbler, the PGC would like to see a photo of it. The PGC is sponsoring a Turkey Harvest Photo Contest and welcomes your photo. The photo should include you in the shot and can be submitted by emailing it, along with your name, hometown, the county the turkey was harvested in and anyone else in the photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The prize will be one of two personalized engraved box calls.
Entries will be narrowed to a field of finalists in each of the adult and youth hunter categories. One winner in each category will be selected by voters on the PGC’s Facebook page.
NWTF GOBBLER MAP APP
If you’re looking for a place to turkey hunt, the National Wild Turkey Federation has come out with their free 2017 Gobbler Map app that features field reports of turkey activity for areas you select, public land maps, harvest reports, huntable areas, trends on an interactive heat map, plus it shows how to score your bird. It’s available free for Android and Apple devices.
To get it go to www.gobblermap.com and click on “View a Heat Map of Turkey Activity.”
When going afield for spring turkey season, spray up with a good tick repellent. Because of a relatively mild winter, ticks are predicted to be heavy this year.
Also keep in mind the regulations concerning the use of blinds while turkey hunting. The PGC says that while turkey hunting, blinds must be manufactured with manmade materials of sufficient density to block movement within the blind from an observer outside the blind. Blinds must completely enclose the hunter on all four sides and from above.
It’s unlawful to hunt turkeys from blinds made of natural materials such as logs, tree branches and piled rocks. And blinds that represent a fanned tail of a gobbler do not hide all hunter movement, and therefore are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
The latter two scenarios have been featured on recent YouTube segments. The first being a pair of turkey hunters who were sitting against a downed tree and another to the left of them were shot at by another hunter in mistake for a turkey. Same for the fan blind which is even more dangerous to use.
It can’t be stressed enough to make 100 percent sure what you’re shooting at is a real turkey. Not a camouflaged hunter calling in a turkey.
Now that the rains have ceased, area streams and rivers have receded somewhat and water clarity has cleared making for improved fishing.
On the trout scene, the Lehigh River was stocked again from Bowmanstown to Glen Onoko by the Lehigh River Stocking Association. At the dam in Cementon/Northampton, Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle reports that anglers there are finally catching brown and rainbow trout that are averaging 14 inches in length. Most fishermen are using minnows, night crawlers and spinners to lure these trout to hook. But Willie noted that while fishing for trout, river anglers are also hooking suckers, perch and fallfish by default. He added that the fish commission has stocked 1,000 trout in the Jim Thorpe stretch of the river, but most fish are averaging 10 inches. The commission also stocked Hokendauqua Creek last week. So there’s a fair amount of trout remaining in these and other local streams including the Little Lehigh, Jordan, Coplay creeks.
But the big news is shad. They’re finally making their way up the Delaware River. Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth said shad fishermen are crushing them from Easton on up to Milford. According to Blaine from the shop, he heard one boat caught 200 shad in a day while others reportedly averaging 100 per boat. Even shore fishermen are doing well. And the fish are running large this year with some 7-pound roe shad being hooked.
When asked what shad are falling for, Blaine said spoons and jigs in any color as it seems they’ll hit anything.
The Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Hotlines (610-954-0577/0578) is also reporting good shad catches and so far better than last year at this time. Their hotline said water temperature at Riegelsville was 52 on Friday of last week, and they’re recommending anglers fish close to shore where the water flow isn’t as strong. And again, it seems any color dart/spoon works.
YOUTH FISHING DERBY
South Whitehall Parks & Recreation is hosting a trout fishing derby on April 22 from 8 a.m. – 12 noon at Covered Bridge Park at the Wehr’s Dam area. The stream is being stocked with approximately 500 trout from Lehigh County’s Cedarbrook Co-Op Nursery.
The event is free and parents or guardians don’t require a fishing license for their children to fish in the derby. The only requirement is that children must furnish their own equipment and bait. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase at the event. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the contest beginning promptly at 8:45 a.m. For information check www.southwhitehall.com.
Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia says saltwater fishing is starting to pick up for stripers in the Raritan Bay. Everyone has been snagging and dropping bunker, catching fish 30 to 45 inches. There have been a few guys throwing poppers and SP minnows but these guys have been catching smaller fish.
With heavy winds last week, there were no reports from the cod and Pollock fisherman.
Down in the Delaware Bay there are some stripers showing up, however only smaller fish have been caught at the rips. But up at the bay, one fisherman at Money Island picked up a 42-inch, 35-pound striper on live bunker. He also had a bunch of smaller fish.
Stripers too are hitting fairly well in the lower Delaware River with fish up to 40 inches being caught at Station Avenue, Tacony Bridge, Salem and at the Philly airport. Most being caught on bloodworms, clams and bunker head.
Since learning Bass Pro Shops was buying Cabela’s some months ago, we also haven't heard anymore about Bass Pro opening a store at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem. But Jim Shepherd, editor/owner of The Outdoor Wire and who was one of the original founders of The Golf Channel, wrote in a recent column about these two outdoor retail giants and his comments are as follows:
I was writing an undated obituary for the Bass Pro Shop/Cabela's deal- until a last minute decision by Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corporation to buy the Cabela's credit-card business seems to have pulled the deal out of the proverbial fire.
Most people forget the mega-merger of outdoor retailers Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's was really an intertwined two-part sale: BPS would take the retail business, and Capital One would buy the credit card business.
The second part of the deal ran into trouble because of money-laundering allegations (and an ongoing investigation) at Capital One. Their timetable had slipped to the point the deal seemed in serious trouble.
Now Georgia-based Synovus Financial Corporation has stepped in to buy the credit card portion. It's one of those deals I'd like to make: Synovus buys the Cabela's credit card business, then turns around and re-sells it to Capital One. That avoids a more in-depth review of the deal by regulators.
In exchange, Synovus keeps around $1 billion (yes, billion) in deposits held by the Cabela's bank - and grows from a $30 billion dollar bank to a $31 billon dollar depository- three plus percent growth on a single business turn is nothing to sneeze at.
At that point, Johnny Morris and BPS takes over Cabela's - and the $3.6 billion in business Cabela's generated last year. If/when that happens, count on a brief period of stability, followed by the inevitable "combination of operational areas" - and another glut of available retail space.
Since I know Shepherd through membership in Professional Outdoor Media Association, he is a businessman and knows business and has numerous contacts in the business and investment world. As such, his insights are normally right on and that this could be a done deal.
YOUTH FISHING DERBY
South Whitehall Township Parks & Recreation Department is hosting a free Youth Fishing Derby on April 22 at Covered Bridge Park at Wehr’s Dam.
The derby kicks off promptly at 8:45 a.m. with registration at Pavilion #2 beginning at 8:00 a.m.. Contests with prizes will be awarded for biggest fish and other categories.
According to Page Durflinger, South Whitehall Parks and Recreation Program Specialist, there will be between 450-500 trout stocked from the County of Lehigh’s Cedarbrook Co-Op Nursery. To participate, children need to be accompanied by a responsible adult and that person does not have to have a Pa. fishing license. However, participants must bring their own equipment and bait, the latter of which can be obtained at nearby Bob's Taxidermy in Orefield.
There will be food and refreshments available on-site for purchase. For questions about the free event, contact the South Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department at the township office on Walbert Avenue.
If you want bigger fish than trout, would you believe shad and stripers are coming up the Delaware River? Although the river will be high, cold and fast this week, the fish are there but may be reluctant to bite until water conditions improve.
Bill Brinkman from Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia gives the following report:
The river (Delaware) has been getting better each day. Anthony was out this past Thursday and caught six stripers and a few catfish. The bass were 14-22 inches and picked up on bloodworms. Another customer picked up five bass below the Tacony Bridge. These fish were 12-19 inches and also caught on bloodworms. From the Philly airport down to the Commodore Barry Bridge, some bigger 20 to 28-inch fish were caught. Farther down around the Salem Canal some fish 20 inches up to 40 pounds were hooked last week. Most of these fish were also caught on bloodworms but a few guys hooked them with bunker.
The upper river from Trenton up to Lambertville, shad fishing has picked up a bit. But here the water temps are not coming up fast enough with all the snow melt from up state areas. Trenton area on the low tide has been doing the best behind the railroad bridge with pink, chartreuse and orange shad spoons. Up at Washington’s Crossing, Frank picked up three shad on Tuesday of last week, all with shad spoons. All were small bucks.
Farther up river, Tom picked up three walleyes at Point Pleasant up in the rocks with live minnows. And Charlie (another regular customer) waded just below Bryan and caught a 19-inch walleye and two 13-inch smallmouths, all with watermelon grubs.
As for saltwater action, Brinkman gave this report:
Saltwater fishing has not changed a bit. Anglers still catching plenty of stripers 15-30 inches at Oyster Creek power plant. Bloodworms, chunked bunker, 4 and 5-inch shad bodies, Fin-S fish and Daiwa SP minnows have been working best. The Mullica River has also been good in the Route 9 area. Stripers here are running 15-24 inches plus white perch up to a pound are also being caught with bloodworms, grass shrimp and one customer had one on Fish Bites.
Trout action was much better on Sunday after the opener but most local streams were still on the high side, slightly discolored and cold. Some debris was still being snagged. But at least a few anglers caught trout. And with the predicted Tuesday and Thursday rain, stream conditions will once again be bad even though the Little Lehigh is scheduled for stocking on 4-3, and the Jordan Creek, 4-5 in Lehigh County. And let’s not forget about the Lehigh River that was stocked on opening day from Canal Park in Northampton up on through Laury’s Station, Treichler’s and upriver to Bowmanstown.
On Saturday’s opener, anglers complained not only about the high, ripping water, but also that each cast snagged sticks, branches and leafs. A couple anglers at the covered bridge on the Little Lehigh in Lehigh Parkway, had a collection of stick-fish as they called the pile of sticks they hooked and stacked up on the bank.
If you’re an avid user of butterworms, they’re a bit on the scarce side, and pricey. If bought in bulk, Amazon lists them at $55 for 250 or $35 for 100.
Also known as the Chilean moth, it’s a moth of the Cossidae family. The butterworm is the larvae form and is commonly used as fishing bait but also used for food for insectivore pets such as geckos, reptiles and birds, as their scent and bright color help attract the more stubborn eaters. They’re also called tebo worms or trevo worms and are high in fat and calcium. They’re difficult to breed in captivity and most are imported from Chile. They are usually irradiated to kill bacteria and prevent pupation as the moth is an invasive species.
Most are available at local tackle shops like Bob’s Taxidermy and Bait in Orefield; Willie’s Bait & Tackle, Cementon; Coplay News Agency, Coplay; Chris’ Bait & Tackle, Mertztown; Archery at the Glen, Allentown; Mike’s Bait & Tackle, Nazareth and pet supply stores where they’re likely more expensive. Given a choice between butterworms and mealworms, the former will likely out-fish the latter.
Mother Nature put the kibosh to the southeastern trout opener with Friday’s heavy rain. As a result, all local streams and creeks were running high, fast and muddy. Even Leaser Lake was cold and off-colored.
My trout opener travels took me first to the Little Lehigh by the Covered Bridge in Lehigh Parkway off 24th St.. The water there was super fast, high and muddy. In talking to the few remaining anglers there, no trout were caught or seen caught. One angler who traditionally sets up a tent canopy streamside the day before the opener said for the first time he can recall that Lehigh Fish & Game Association stocked a trophy size trout in front of him and his group and no one could get even a nibble.
From there I went to Union Terrace Pond that was stocked the week before for the Mentored Youth Trout opener. While there I witnessed one 10-inch trout caught and released.
In the same area Cedar Creek had about a dozen anglers but no fish were caught in that narrow stream.
On my way to Leaser Lake, a stop was made at the falls on Jordan Creek on Kernsville Road in Orefield. The water coming over the dam was smashing and the noise from the rushing water was loud. Only two anglers were upstream on this otherwise heavily fished spot and they too didn’t get a bite.
Enroute to Leaser Lake, the Jordan Creek at the State Game Lands 205 off Route 100, I saw were six trucks parked on the gravel road near the PGC maintenance building so there was lots of activity there.
On up to Ontelaunee Park and Ontelaunee Creek, the parking lot there had about a dozen vehicles parked and a few anglers could be seen lining the stream where the water wasn’t overly fast or discolored.
Arriving at Leaser Lake, there was a mix of mostly shore anglers and a few boats and a canoe fishing the deeper waters off the shore line. I spoke to a half dozen anglers and one said he caught two largemouth bass and a perch but no trout. Another angler said he saw two musky caught and released by boat anglers, but again, no trout. A couple anglers believe the muskies ate many of the trout but since the lake was just stocked on Friday that was very doubtful.
Fortunately, Mike Kauffman, PF&BC fisheries biologist was at Leaser taking a fish survey and he too registered no trout from anglers there. He did say they stocked 2,500 trout in the lake and when asked about in-season and fall stockings, he said there would be none. The reasons were that the 2,500 stocked was a total that would normally be stocked pre and in season. “Fifteen hundred would normally be stocked pre season and another 1,000 inseason. We want the 4-inch fish we planted to grow and need that stock to build the Leaser fishery,” Kaufman noted. As for a possible fall stocking for the ice fishing season, there would be none he said, for the same reason.
While the Lehigh River from Canal Park in Northampton was stocked Saturday morning, no fish were caught said Willie Marx from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon. “The river is up two feet and ripping and muddy,” said Marx.
Perhaps the upcoming week may be more productive however more rain is forecasted for Tuesday and Thursday when additional stockings are scheduled for the larger local streams.
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.