Youngsters 15 years of age and under are invited to enter the free 2019 Annual Fishing Derby on May 25, 2019 at Hokey Park located on Lehigh Street in Whitehall.
The derby is open only to children and is hosted by the Whitehall Township Recreation Department with sponsorship from Willie’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Cementon who provides the prizes for the winners.
According to Michele Dragovits, Word Processing Secretary at the Whitehall Recreation Department, her department has hosted the fishing contest for over 40 years. And it’s always held in Hokendauqua Park & Playground where a portion of the Coplay Creek meanders through it. The Park entrance is a short distance from the Whitehall Police Department office and at the overpass that is part of the Ironton Rail Trail. On a GPS, its address is 3417 Lehigh Street, Whitehall.
Approximately 100 trout from the Cedarbrook Nursery will be stocked for the event that gets underway at 9 a.m. and runs until 12 p.m. Registration is open from 8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. on derby day.
First, second and third place awards will be awarded in four age groups of 6 and under, 7-9, 10-12 and 13-15. Prizes will consist of an array of fishing tackle plus a special prize will go to the angler who catches the largest fish. Bait and tackle must be provided by the youth angler.
For questions, contact the Whitehall Township Recreation office at 610-437-5524, ext. 160. Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a recent Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Hotline (610-954-0577-0578), the Delaware River dropped a bit, but it’s stained and Friday’s rain will bring it up again. Delaware River water temperature is hovering around 55 degrees. The hotline recommends anglers stick to shore and to areas where feeder streams enter the river. They also suggest using darts in black, blue and red because of the water conditions.
Mike’s Sports Shop in Nazareth reports shad anglers were crushing them earlier last week. Good shad reports came from below Easton upriver to New York, but all were bucks and no roe. Shore anglers were throwing shad darts while boat anglers were using flutter spoons, both in chartreuse color. The largest shad caught as of last Thursday for the Bi-State Shad Fishing Contest, was a little over 5 pounds, Mike recalls. The contest began last Thursday and ends this Sunday.
According to On the Water Magazine, big female stripers are being reported in the Delaware River, with anglers catching them on bloodworms, high-low rigs, on soft plastics and plugs. Most are in the 15- to 24-inch size, but there have been a few keepers mixed in. Some bass are being caught along the beaches as well. Northern New Jersey striper fishing has been on fire. Pre-spawn female fish from 15 to 40 pounds have moved into the area to stage before pushing into the Hudson River to spawn.
There will be lots of clucks, yulps and gobbles emanating from Penn’s Woods on Saturday, April 27, when the spring turkey season opens statewide.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), there is a turkey population of about 215,000 to 225,00 turkeys in the state. Last year, an estimated 174,500 hunters pursued them and took 40,303 of them. This was up from 38,101 in 2017. The PGC claims it set the highest hunter success rate in years. And this years forecast looks promising despite a low fall turkey harvest and a rainy spring season in 2018.
“The spring rains last year and well below-average temperatures hampered poult survival in some areas of the state,” said Mary Jo Casalena, PGC wild turkey biologist. “Lets hope weather conditions are more agreeable in coming weeks and more hunters have the time to find and take gobblers,” she added.
Casalena explained that the overall turkey population is slowly increasing from its most recent low of 192,612 in 2010, with increases in the one-and-two-year age classes.
Last year, a record 20,925 hunters bought second gobbler tags. And their success rate was the best ever 65 percent, says the PGC. But second turkey tag holders accounted for only 10 percent of the overall spring harvest.
If desiring a second gobbler tag, you better get it before Apr. 27 as it’s too late to purchase after that.
Spring gobbler hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon for the first two weeks of the statewide season (Apr. 27-May 11). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. to minimize disturbing nesting hens. Then from May 13-May 31, hunting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
For those hunting in blinds, the PGC reminds hunters that 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 the fanned tail of a gobbler do not hide all hunter movement and are unlawful to use in Pennsylvania.
Another reminder for turkey hunters is that ticks will be lurking everywhere. And with many hunters sitting on the ground in front of a tree, that makes you especially susceptible to having a deer tick or two crawling on you. So spray a good tick repellent all over your outer garments, boots and hat.
ANNUAL LEHIGH PARKWAY FISHING DERBY
Although the City of Allentown’s “Adventure Allentown” magazine lists the Annual Fishing Derby, held in a stretch of the Little Lehigh Creek in Lehigh Parkway, is advertised for May 11, 2019. However, it has been cancelled said Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh County Fish & Game Protective Association who hosts the derby.
According to Gottschall, the derby has been cancelled because the City of Allentown changed the rules. Gottschall said participants can no longer camp out in the park the night before, no tents will be allowed, no open grills and no admittance before 5 a.m. derby day.
“The derby has been held for 86 consecutive years in the parkway, and we never had a problem until now,” Gottschall explained.
The city contends that the aforementioned stipulations were never enforced but should have been. In a letter to Gottschall from Karen El-Chaar, Director of Parks and Recreation for the city, she wrote that they’ll see if it’s possible to grandfather the derby for next year, as it’s the organizations 100th year anniversary and Gottschall said he would like it to be a memorable one for derby participants and the city alike.
Trout fishing is tops on the local fishing menu, but following a close second and third are shad and stripers.
Chris’s Bait & Tackle in Mertztown reports good trout action in all area streams thanks to recent stockings. At Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County, the crappie action died down and the overall bite is slow. At Blue Marsh Lake, anglers are doing really good on catch-and-release bass using large shiners. Crappie guys are also doing good there and picking up quite a few. Chris believes more warm weather is needed for them to turn on. At Leaser Lake, trout fishing has been horrible. “With about 300 people at Leaser on opening day, not one angler came into the shop and said they caught a trout and didn’t even see one caught the entire day,” said Chris. Same thing happened last year when I was there and surveyed several anglers. Muskies though at Leaser are hot. One Chris’ customer reportedly caught eight last Monday on live large shiners.
Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy/Tackle Shop in Orefield, reports good trout action on the upper Jordan Creek. Bob says live minnows are doing the trick. Decent trout bite at the Kernsville Dam in Orefield. Rain should bring area creeks up a bit as they are low. Scant trout reports from Leaser Lake.
Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon reported light trout action on the Lehigh River since it was stocked the week after the regional trout opener thanks to the Lehigh River Stocking Association. Willie thinks anglers should be using live bait instead of spinners for the sizable trout that were stocked below the Cementon/Northampton Dam and locally upriver at Treichlers where one customer caught one over 20 inches. Another customer caught several smallmouth bass below the dam which is unusual for this time of year. Willie thinks trout pressure should be lighter locally as the northern regional trout season opened this past Saturday. As for Leaser Lake, few trout reportedly caught. However, muskies in the 30-inch range, were hooked by a regular customer. Willie believes there are 50-inch and over Muskies there and in fact one fellow recently caught one that measured 51.25 inches.
Willie contends that the Leaser Lake Muskies are fat because they’re dining on stocked trout. On the saltwater scene, Willie said Joe Kasper, from Fisherman’s Magazine in New Jersey, told him stripers are on fire in Jersey, especially around Atlantic Highlands. A friend caught 20 of them with average weight of 20 pounds.
Mike, from Mike’s Sports Shop in Nazareth, reported shad action is good on the Delaware River from Easton on up to the Delaware Water Gap. One customer reported catching 40 in an outing while another guy hooked eight. They were all bucks, no roe as yet. For daily shad updates call the Delaware River Shad Fisherman’s Shad Hotline at 610-954-0577/0578.
Additionally on stripers, On The Water Magazine reports migratory stripers are moving into northern New Jersey ocean waters. They’re feeding on huge schools of bunker there. This coincides what Willie’s B&T reported.
PGC MAKES DATE/RULE CHANGES
By now you may know that beginning this year, the start of the rifle deer hunting in the state has been changed from the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Some sportsmen like the change, others don’t.
The Board of Pennsylvania Game Commissioners also voted to ease fluorescent orange requirements during the archery deer, bear and elk season when it overlaps with the firearms season. Bowhunters no longer have to wear orange when moving or to having to post an orange band near their hunting stand.
Other changes are as follows:
* Added was a muzzleloader bear hunt running concurrently with the antlerless deer muzzleloader season Oct. 19-26.
* Archery bear season has changed by adding another week that will now run Oct 28-Nov. 9.
* The late archery/flintlock season increased a week and will run Dec. 26-Jan. 20.
* November turkey season was shortened to Nov. 28-29.
* A special hunt for juniors/seniors will take place Oct. 24-26.
Stay tuned for more shad/striper reports as the run is underway.
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.