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.
Pennsylvania’s 2021-22 deer harvest figures are in and they show a 13 percent decrease over the 2020-21 seasons.
Hunters took an estimated 376,810 whitetails of which 145,320 were bucks and 231,490 were antlerless deer. This is in comparison to 2020-21 seasons when a total of 435,180 deer were harvested.
The decrease is no cause for concern according to David Stainbrook, PGC deer and elk section supervisor. “The 2020-21 was above average and the 2021-22 season is back on track with previous years.” He added that 22 percent of hunters took an antlered deer which is right in line with the previous four-year average and better than in years past.
Said Stainbrook, “The harvest also points to how antlerless allocations – and not length of seasons – drive deer harvests. The 2021 firearms deer season featured two weeks of concurrent buck and doe hunting for the first time statewide in more than a decade, yet with the number of antlerless tags available down compared to the year before, the overall harvest was lower.”
Of the deer harvested, many of the bucks were older. Sixty-two percent of antlered deer taken by hunters were 2.5 years or older while only 38 percent were 1.5 years old. “That’s an almost complete reversal of how things were even two decades ago, opines PGC Executive Director Bryan Burhans who credited how hunters embraced antler restrictions in place since 2002.” That’s when Gary Alt, then PGC deer biologist, took lots of heat from sportsmen for implementing those restrictions that now has proven beneficial.
Among antlerless deer harvested, 69 percent were adult females, 16 percent were button bucks and 15 percent were doe fawns. All of those figures said Stainbrook are consistent with long-term averages.
As in years past, bowhunters accounted for a little over one-third of the total deer harvested taking 130,650 deer of which 68,580 were bucks and 62,070 were antlerless deer. And they were taken with either bows or crossbows. During the 2020-21 seasons, bowhunters tallied 160,480 deer of which 80,130 were bucks and 80,350 were antlerless.
The 2021-22 estimated muzzleloader harvest was 21,060 of which 1,020 were bucks and 20,040 were antlerless deer. The 2020-21 muzzleloader tally was 28,260 (1,140 bucks, 27,120 antlerless).
Within three local Wildlife Management Areas, the firearms tallies are as follows with the 2020-21 totals in parentheses and antlered deer will be represented as A and antlerless as AL:
WMU 3D: 4,700 A (6,200), and 6,300 AL (6.400).
WMU 4C: 5,700 A (7,000) and 6,400 AL (8,100).
WMU 5C: 6,600 A (8,400) and 14,700 AL (15,200).
For archery and muzzleloader specific seasons, their totals are as follows for three local WMUs:
WMU 3D: archery, 1980 A (2,670) and 1,500 AL (2,240); muzzleloader, 20 A (30) and 500 AL (760).
WMU 4C: archery, 2,870 A (3,260) and 1,750 AL (2,890); muzzleloader, 30 A (40), and 550 AL (1,010); WMU 5C: archery, 4,730 A (5,810) and 6,890 AL (7,410); muzzleloader, 70 A (90) and 810 AL (990).
Although the numbers were slightly down, Stainbrook contends that hunters were able to replicate a level of harvest that speaks to just how sustainable our deer population is here in Pennsylvania.
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.