By now your family is probably suffering from cabin fever and need to get out and do some fun things. Well, Blue Mountain Resort has reopened its Outdoor Adventures in it’s Summit Adventure Park.
Adventures includes the High Ropes Course, Outdoor Rock Climbing, Zip Lines, Free-Fall Belay and Outdoor Laser Tag. The reopening of outdoor adventures was thanks to Carbon County moving into the “green phase” on Friday, June 12th.
“Although the mountain is in the green phase, the safety of Blue Mountain’s staff and guests is still top priority,” said Ashely Seier, Marketing Manager at Blue Mountain.
She goes on to explain that Blue Mountain is following all CDC recommendations and State guidelines while operating activities. Changes such as gloves being provided to all guests, frequent and rigorous sanitation and limited session sizes have all been implanted in the Adventure Park and around the resort. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online at shopskibluemt.com to limit contact at the ticket windows and avoid smaller session sizes selling out. A full list of precautions can be found on our COVID-19 response page: https://www.skibluemt.com/safety-precautions/.
The High Ropes Course will again host the special event “Night Time Zip and Climb” every Friday night through October. Guests can experience the course under the stars with laser lights and glow sticks. Due to the limited capacity of the course, these weekly events are expected to sell out. Guests interested in attending should purchase tickets online ahead of time.
In addition to the Summit Adventure Park, Blue Mountain is also open for Camping, Glamping, Down Hill Mountain Biking, Outdoor Fitness Classes, Hiking and Disc Golf. Slopeside Pub & Grill is open with indoor, outdoor and bar seating. Curbside pick up from the restaurant still remains an option for those not yet ready to venture out.
You may have noticed several turkey vultures circling in the sky since early spring. They’re even being seen in the West end of Allentown when a woman posted on a blog that one landed in her backyard.
Vultures, sometimes called buzzards and when I was a kid my dad would refer to them as chicken hawks, are blackish birds with long wingspans that are commonly soaring in wide circles as they seek out carrion to eat. They’re often referred to as natures’ vacuum cleaners as they’ll feast on dead and road killed carrion on roads, fields and forests. They’ll subsequently leave but a trace of what that animal was. And if you could get close to them, they stink. Wonder why?
Two weeks ago, as I drove along Willow Street in North Whitehall Township and about 50 yards West of the blacktop plant there, I noticed a sizable road killed doe (antlerless deer) laying on the grass by a sharp curve sign. Evidently it was hit during the night. The next day when I drove past the same spot there were nine vultures surrounding the deer carcass and all that could be seen were the deer’s head, its ribs and a leg. They picked it clean. When I drove past last Friday, there was no trace of anything but the grass there was cut and presumably the grass cutter moved the remaining bones so he wouldn’t ruin his mower blades.
In early morning hours, vultures can be seen perched in trees, on a building or barn like one on Mauch Chunk Road in South Whitehall Township. They’ll often perch near a dead animal and when their wings dry, these scavengers will converge on a carcass.
There are seven species of vultures in North America according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC). Pennsylvania has the turkey vulture and the black vulture, with the former being the more common. Both are protected by game laws says the PGC.
Adult vultures average about 30 inches in length and have wingspans up to six feet. When they soar, their wings rock and tilt as they circle an area.
While their bodies are feather covered, their heads and neck are unfeathered, perhaps because of their eating habits. Adults have pink heads and necks and in young birds their skin areas are blackish.
All vultures have a heavy bill with a sharp hook at the end for tearing fur and flesh. And their toes have strong, curved talons to hold the carcass as they pull pieces from the carrion.
Interestingly, vultures are voiceless as they lack a voice box. But they can hiss and grunt, says the PGC.
Vultures have keen eyesight and an extremely sharp sense of smell. They use both to locate carrion. It’s been said that as they soar, vultures can smell carrion before they see it.
Like a glider plane, vultures’ broad wings can hold them aloft and they use rising air currents to maintain or even increase altitude without flapping its wings as most birds do. They make use of thermal updrafts to keep them airborne. On rainy days they’ll often stay on their roosts.
Aside from dead carrion, they’ll eat fish, snakes, domestic animals, even killing smaller birds.
Breeding habitats include areas not accessible by predators such as cliffs, hollow logs, stumps, dense thickets, abandoned farm buildings, snag of a dead tree and an above ground tree cavity. The PGC notes that vultures make little or no nest as they deposit their eggs on the ground in gravel, on ledges, on rotted sawdust or chips in logs and stumps. The female lays 1-3 eggs and both parents share incubation that takes from 30-40 days. The young stay in the nest for about four weeks and they’ll eat regurgitated carrion from their parents. Upon fledging, the young will join groups of eight or more adults.
Turkey vultures are a year-round resident of Pennsylvania and are a common migrant in late February and March. Most TV’s, as birders call them, winter in the southern U.S., Middle America and South America.
For now, when you see several circling overhead, they’re normally looking for their next meal. Their favorite pursuit.
Bowhunters need to check out their bows as the deer hunting season is only a few months away
With two-and-a-half months before the start of the deer bowhunting season in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 2B, 5C and 5D, and an additional two weeks thereafter before it starts in the remainder of the state, now may be a good time for bowhunters to have their bows, both compounds and crossbows, checked to see if they’re in need of service like re-stringing and re-serving.
You don’t want to wait to the day before or even a week before the opener’s to have your bows re-strung, or in the case of crossbows, a cracked limb replaced as they are somewhat susceptible to cracking either from dropping them or dry firing too often.
According to the folks at Weaknecht Archery in Kutztown, it takes about 3-5 days to have a bow re-strung and re-served right now. But that time frame lengthens closer to the archery season.
Nate Hertzog, archery technician at Weaknecht Archery, said savvy bowhunters are now starting to come in to have their bows re-tuned. “To replace a bow string requires a bow press which most hunters don’t have, unless you do a lot of 3D shooting or other competitions and those shooters may have presses and do it themselves.”
But it seems, for the most part, it’s less of an expenditure or headache, to have it serviced at a reputable archery shop.
Hertzog goes on to say, “If your bow string is 3-5 years old, it could be time for a new one as older strings do stretch which means less speed, accuracy and dependability.”
Replacing a crossbow string is much easier and quicker says Hertzog. But replacing a compound bow string requires considerably more steps.
Says Hertzog, “After replacing the bow string we have to measure where to put your nocking point, peep sight and with the highly popular drop-away rests, it’s necessary to reset your rest timing plus square up the string loops to insure they are in the correct position. A ton more work.”
He points out that even for bow-shooters who own a portable bow press, for example, they may not get everything correctly in sync. And with 300-pounds of pressure on bows, it can be dangerous when shooting it.
If having Weaknecht’s re-string, Hertzog says the shop charges $79.99 for a stringing cable set for a traditional compound bow and for a high-end 3D Pro bow, it’s $99.99. There’s also a $25 install fee that is waved if the bow was purchased there.
If re-stringing yourself, Hertzog cautions to be careful of the string material used and the length. If it isn’t the correct length it could be a problem. Serving string could also be worn and that material too is important.
“String length on crossbows is particularly critical as there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on them. Install the wrong length and it can be dangerous,” opines Hertzog. Crossbows, however, are rarely checked as those hunters usually just take them out of off-season storage and go hunting.”
Then there are bowhunters who buy a new compound bow every five years and aren’t too concerned with their strings, Hertzog concluded.
Good words of wisdom from an archery shop who has been in business since 1964.
With many Lehigh Valley residents out of work because of the Covid-19 virus, it may be a great time for parents with young children to introduce them to fishing.
I have a buddy who is attempting to introduce his 12-year old son to fishing, especially since his son’s Boy Scout troop gave him a spincast rod/reel combo.
I recall buying my young son at the time, a Zebco 33 spincast reel and rod set. Those are nice for first time anglers as they’re easy to cast with their push button line release on the rear of the reel.
After our son graduated from the 33 spincast, I bought him a 33 Zebco Triggerspin that had a lever under the reel instead of a button. This gave him a feel and a way to eventually transition to a full-fledged spinning reel when his hands grew larger so he could reach the bail and hold the line for casting.
One drawback to some newly purchased spincast outfits are that they’re usually spooled with 10-12-pound test monofilament line. For stream trout fishing, that’s much too heavy. The poundage was likely intended to be used for fishing with a heavy bobber. Heavy line in a spincast also limits casting distance.
But to make spincast reels more productive for stream trout, even panfish, the reel should be re-spooled with 4-6-pound test line that allows casting lighter lures and bait, and cast them at a bit greater distance.
Despite their popularity as introductory fishing gear and primarily for panfish, spincast reels can also be used by adults for a variety of species, including larger fish like shad, stripers, pickerel, bass even saltwater fish.
While many spincast reels retail for $19-$32, Zebco’s Bullet, for example, retails for $99.95 and has a fast retrieve ratio of 5.1:1, a ratio shared by top spinning/casting reels. It’s also priced with many brand spinning reels sold at big box stores.
Spincast reels from major company’s like Zebco, Daiwa and Lew’s offer reels for varying rod stiffness and line strength. As such, they’re offered in ultra-light, medium and heavy that can handle lures from light jigs to heavy spinnerbaits or crankbaits.
Lew’s, for example, offers their Mini Spincast SSC1 pre-spooled with 125 yards of 4-pound test line and their SSC2C comes with 100 yards of 6-pound line.
Daiwa’s Silvercast-A model can handle from 8-17-pound test mono line, their MiniCast MC40 accommodates 85 yards of 4-pound test line while their Goldcast is rated for 8-12-pound test mono. Their Underspin (lever under the reel that can also be used on a fly rod) can be spooled with 4-12-pound mono line. And most have handles that can be switched from right to left hand retrieve.
Zebco, the leader in spincast, offers 25 models, the largest line of spincast models that range from their small model 202 at $9.99 to their mid-range Omega at $69.99 and their top Bullet at $99.99.
Zebco also offers their 808 Saltwater model that can handle 145 yards of 20-pound test line and their 808 Bowfisher model that is intended for bowfishing and comes pre-spooled with 30 yards of 200-pound test to haul in heavy carp, large rays and other species.
So what was initially a reel for first time anglers, has progressed to lines for a variety of species and baits that can be used by all anglers.
SHIMANO TO CELERATE 100 YEARS
On March 24, 2021, Shimano, famed for its fishing reels, will celebrate 100 years in business.
Shimano was founded by the late Shozaburo Shimano in Feb. 1921 and was based in Sakai City, Japan as an iron works company that made gears. In 1970, Shimano Fishing Tackle Division was formed and today manufacture’s a line of reels wherein some saltwater models can fetch over $1,000.
They’re also noted for a line of quality bicycles. And their colored logos of green, blue and deep blue are intended to represent land, sky and sea for their their product offerings. The company has launched a website (www.shimano.com/en/100th/) as an introduction as to what’s to come next year.
If you want really big fish, head to the Jersey shore as stripers up to 50 pounds are being caught says our fishing contacts at On the Water Magazine.
According to Capt. Phil Sciartino from the Tackle Box in Hazlet, stripers are hot in the bay. Bunker chunking around the Old Orchard site was producing stripers up to 50 pounds. The Keansburg Pier was also yielding some linesiders with a few bluefish mixed in.
Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright says stripers, weighing in the teens, were coming from the Shrewsbury River mostly at night using chunks and plugs.
The Reel Seat Tackle Shop in Brielle reports monster bass were being caught on the troll between Sandy Hook and Seaside. They also reported the surf bite is improving with stripers, blues, kingfish even a few fluke being hooked on clams, worms and bunker chunks. They suggest trying some shads and metal spoons for bass and blues.
Tackle World in Rochelle reports customers are finding bass and blues in Raritan Bay and fluke in Shark and Manasquan rivers.
Fisherman’s Den in Point Pleasant said sea bass anglers are catching fish as fast as they can unhook one. Boaters are getting two and three at a time.
Gabriel Tackle in Brick says stripers and some bluefish are coming from around the Mantoloking Bridge and from the Manasquan River.
If you don’t want to drive to Jersey, there’s still some decent local angling action.
Mike from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth reports shad fishing is winding down in the Delaware River, but catfishing it hot as is the smallmouth bass bite. And just recently he’s been getting some reports of stripers being hooked in the Delaware. As for Minsi Lake, trout fishing there is excellent especially from boats. Boaters are trolling spinners and picking up some decent size trout. Mike recommends boat anglers use the East launch site. Shore anglers are using PowerBait for trout. Also some bluegill and pumpkinseeds are falling for worms and small spinners in the Lehigh Canal in Freemansburg and Bethlehem.
Willie form Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon reports decent trout action on the Lehigh River from Canal Park upriver to the dam. Most action coming on medium shiners and night crawlers. Some catfish, catch-and-release smallmouth bass and some fallfish (chubs) are being hooked while fishing for trout. Willie said he’s already caught fallfish up to 14-15 inches. “They look like a shad and fight like a trout, Willie recalls, but not many anglers keep them.”
Of the local streams, Little Lehigh is the best bet as it’s holding leftover trout from thanks to recent stockings from the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery.
Up at Leaser Lake, Willie says anglers are catching-and-releasing sizable muskies on live bait. Also some catch-release largemouths, a few crappies, sunnies and one walleye was reported. But no trout.
Beltzville Lake and Lake Wallenpaupack are yielding some stripers and bass, but mostly in the evenings.
Chris, from Chris’s Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, says Ontelaunee Reservoir was hot for catch-release largemouths on rubber worms but their spawn is about over and the once hot bite has calmed down. Ontelaunee crappie bite is fairly good there and they’re eagerly hitting fatheads.
Blue Marsh Lake catfishing has been good for anglers throwing large pike shiners. Largemouth action is fair while smallmouths are more active and eager to hit skirted hair jigs and rubber-tipped jigs.
Leaser Lake is on fire for catch-release muskies. One customer had four last week, one was 40 inches. All are falling for large minnows. Mike, a regular customer, fished Leaser last Wednesday and had a phenomenal day from shore by latching onto a few largemouths, crappie, perch and four muskies. But no trout.
Bass season officially opens June 12 on lakes (except for Leaser), ponds and streams. At that time, anglers may keep six of combined species (smallmouths and largemouths).
EVINRUDE BOAT MOTORS TO BE DISCONTINUED
BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) recently announced it has re-oriented its marine business by focusing on the growth of its boat brands. As such, it will discontinue production of Evinrude E-TEC and E-TEC G2 outboard engines. Its Sturtevant, Wisconsin, facility will be repurposed for new projects to pursue the company’s plan to provide consumers with an unparalleled experience on the water. Evinrude has building outboards for anglers and recreational boaters for 110 years.
In a press release, the company CEO stated, "Our outboard engines business has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, obliging us to discontinue production of our outboard motors immediately,” said BRP President and CEO José Boisjoli. “This business segment had already been facing some challenges, and the impact from the current context has forced our hand. We will concentrate our efforts on new and innovative technologies and on the development of our boat companies, where we continue to see a lot of potential to transform the on-water experience for consumers."
Following BRP’s decision, the company has signed an agreement with Mercury Marine to support boat packages and continue to supply outboard engines to its boat brands. BRP will continue to supply customers and its dealer network service parts, and it will honor manufacturer limited warranties, plus offer select programs to manage inventory. These decisions will impact 650 employees globally.
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.