The first part of the small game season traditionally gets underway on the first day of September, and this is when dove and geese become legal game. This year, Sept 1 falls on Saturday, which is great for hunters as it’s a weekend.
These fast flyers are challenging birds to hunt and down as they offer every conceivable wing shot. In flight there are incomers, outgoers, quartering left, quartering right, in front, crossing behind and directly overhead. No other gamebird offers these type of shots. And because of their unpredictable flight patterns, it’s been said that it takes seven shot shells to down one bird.
But the secondary challenge in dove hunting is finding where to hunt them. In Lehigh County, dove hunting possibilities are thin. Thanks to warehouse and housing developers, a good number of former dove habitat is gone. I recall hunting with my - at the time – pre-teen son many moons ago in a sunflower field across from Mack Trucks in Macungie. That was the best dove hunting I ever experienced. We got our limits and in fact my son got his first-ever double. That spot is long gone to development as is the entire area.
Breinigsville too, was always a hot spot but I don’t have to tell you what’s there now and what created heavy tractor trailer traffic. Limeport was another good dove area. Now most of it is homes.
The only dove possibilities are on the northern tier of Lehigh in Lynn, Weisenberg and Lowhill townships and of course State Game Land #205 in Lowhill where it’s located off Route 100.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has Managed Dove Fields where land managers plant food and cover plots for the birds. These areas can be found on the agencies’ website under Hunt, then check Waterfowl & Migratory Game Bird sites. Click on the game land symbol to the area you’d like to hunt and it will show where the area is. The closest I found was in Berks County at Blue Marsh Lake.
In Northampton County, best bet is if you spot a likely farm and get permission from the farmer or landowner, try it. Otherwise its SGL #168 along the Blue Mountain.
Since there is more farm land in upper Berks County around Topton and Lyons, most of which is primarily owned by Mennonites who customarily don’t sell their land, I’ve seen a good many doves perched on utility lines when driving back- roads there.
As it’s the most hunted game bird in North America, hunters need to find their favorite natural meals. Ninety percent of dove meals consist of seeds like from foxtail, ragweed, pineseed, pokeweed, wheat, oats, soybean, sunflower and believer it or not considering their small mouths, corn.
Their flyways normally are from roosting to eating to picking grit then watering. If you can find similar areas, you may have a dove spot.
Dove season runs from Sept. 1- Nov. 24 and again from Dec. 18 – Jan. 5. Daily limits are 15 with a possession limit of 45.
As for Canada geese, they’re even tougher to hunt right now with all the standing corn and soybean fields. For them it’s a crap shoot as to where they’re putting down right now to eat. Until more crops are harvested, goose hunting will be tough. Their season runs Sept 1 – Sept. 25 with a daily limit of one and possession limit of three.
Hunters don’t forget, a migratory stamp is needed to hunt doves and a Duck Stamp for geese.
With the continuous rain storms we’ve had and are having, it has created flooding and muddy stream and river conditions that are not conducive to fishing. So dog days of summer anglers have but two choices. Either fish lakes that haven’t been too affected or head down to the Jersey shore for some saltwater action.
According to Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, local lakes are producing decent action. He reports that Leaser Lake is doing well on catch-and-release muskies, perch, crappies and small bass. But no trout, which are legal to keep. Mauch Chunk is producing some bass as is Beltzville Lake. “A buddy was at Brady’s Lake and took some nice crappies and another friend hit Lake Wallenpaupack and took a bunch of 9-11-inch bluegills from there. A few die-hards are also using worms to catch eels on the Cementon side of the Lehigh River,” said Willie.
Chris at Chris’s Outdoor Sports shop in Mertztown says Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County has been fishing good for largemouths on bait and lures, particularly Jacko Chunk Craw plastic baits. At Blue Marsh in Berks, which Chris says he fishes at least twice a week, it’s been producing good catch-and-release bass action with fish up to five pounds on black/blue, green pumpkin and blue/black flake Chunk Craw’s and Senko worms. “Up at Leaser, customers have been buying predominately shiners and pike shiners for muskies. The largest I saw so far on a photo weighed 28 pounds. They’re catching some real bruisers up there,” he reports. But again, no trout.
Down at Nockamixon Lake in upper Bucks County, catfish are hot and hitting chicken livers, cut bait and commercial catfish bait in water less than 20 foot depths and from on the bottom. A few anglers are taking them with top water lures and swim baits, believe it or not.
Down at the Jersey shore and from On the Water magazine comes reports of good fluke action out of Atlantic Highlands with one weighed at 12-pounds, 2-ounces. Others ranged from 8-10 pounds on party and charter boats.
Bluefish too are numerous along the beaches from Sandy Hook to Manasquan. Spanish mackerel also showed up off the beaches as did bonito. Even a few mahi-mahi in midshore areas. Anglers can expect false albacore to be soon joining the party.
Capt. Phil at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said fluking is getting better in deeper water with some fish being caught at the Scotland Grounds and in Ambrose Channel. Other fluke brought in weighed from 10-pounds, 6-ounces to a flurry of 4-6 pounders.
Giglio’s Bait & Tackle reported good fluking from the beaches on pink and white Gulp baits and live snappers. They too have reports of Spanish mackerel being caught from the beach and mahi-mahi have appeared at the Barnegat Ridge.
Fishermen’s Den in Belmar reports fluke up to 9 pounds, some sea bass, small blues, Spanish mackerel even cow nose rays are showing up.
The 125-foot Jamaica charter out of Brielle says they’ve been hitting bluefish near shore mixed in with some bonito. Offshore it’s been mackerel, sea bass and fluke. Recent Tilefish trips produced a 50.2 pounder for one customer. Capt. Bogan says he’s taking reservations now for canyon tuna trips beginning Sept. 6.
When trout fishing season starts up again, there’s a new trout lure coming to market that is quite different from most other trout lures. And it comes from Australia.
Pradco Fishing has received the distribution rights for the unique Tasmanian Devil winged lure. Tasmanian Devils are the brainchild of Eddie Wigston, who owned an outdoors store in New Norfolk on Tasmanian’s Derwent River.
According to Pradco, Wigston began making the hollow, weighted lures with curved wings in 1979. It quickly became one of the most popular lures for rainbow and brown trout in Australia and New Zealand. It comes in 22 color combinations and in 7g, 13g, 20g and 26g weights. They can be trolled or cast for any freshwater species, and are especially effective on trout.
Look for them at better tackle shops when you want to give trout a different lure look.
Not only did the recent heavy rains and flooding affect MusikFest events and Das Awk Fescht car show, but it created a deadly trout kill at the Lil’ Le-Hi Trout Nursery.
According to Herb Gottschall, president of Lehigh County Fish & Game Association, a few hundred sizable, chunky trout in the 12-14-inch range were killed when heavy rains flooded portions of the popular Lil’ Le-Hi Trout Nursery off Fish Hatchery Road in Allentown.
Many of the affected trout came from the raceway that is situated alongside the Little Lehigh Creek from which the raceway gets it cold water flow, while others came from the two holding tanks adjacent and closest to the creek. Dead trout were strewed about the lawn and stuck in the nets that protect the fish from predators when the flood water receded on Sunday.
“Fortunately, said Gottschall, the newly stocked trout fingerlings in adjacent tanks were not affected.”
While the flooding killed trout that would have been stocked next spring, the situation was predictable claims Gottschall.
In a 2017 letter to LCF&G members, Gottschall explained that eliminating the dam upstream and a short distance from the nursery, would affect the nursery and stocking of sizable fish. And now, flooding conditions wiped out a lot of beautiful trout.
“I told Wildlands Conservancy that eliminating the dam would cause problems, and it did,” Gottschall believes.
It appears the latest Mudsnail problem in the Little Lehigh, the famed stream that gets more fishing pressure than any other stream in the area, and the City of Allentown gets a portion of its water from it, didn’t need this fish kill to compound its recent ill.
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.