During these dog days of summer, local fishing action can be tough. Especially on local streams and rivers.
Willie Marx, from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, says the Lehigh River is high, ripping and chocolate colored from the rains we’ve had, so forget fishing it. But he hears lakes like Mauch Chunk are yielding largemouth bass while Leaser Lake is producing good numbers of largemouths and muskies, both of which must be immediately released.
At Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, Chris said Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County has been producing good numbers of large and smallmouth bass on Senko worms and jigs.
At Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County, anglers are taking largemouths by working frog lures over the many Lilly pads there.
He’s been selling a lot of trout for Leaser Lake anglers who are targeting the huge (catch-release) muskies there. Largemouth bass too are hitting well but both must be immediately released unharmed.
Otherwise, most of the angling action is at New Jersey shore points.
First up is Capt. Howard Bogan of the Jamaica, who reports his trips are hauling in bluefish up to 12 pounds as well as some sea bass and a few sizable fluke. He has offshore tuna trips planned and recommends checking his website for dates and times.
On the Water Magazine has received decent fluke, bluefish and albacore reports. For example, Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, NJ, says it was an excellent week for jumbo fluke with the biggest weighed so far was a 13-pounder caught aboard the Big Mohawk. The Ocean Explorer got a 12 pounder with Capt. Cal II bringing in blues up to 12 pounds. The Shark River is loaded with snappers while false albacore are plentiful in the Shark River Inlet jetties. Most are being caught on Epoxy jigs.
Giglio’s Bait & Tackle in Sea Bright reports albies appeared off Monmouth Beach on Tuesday and were in Sea Bright on Wednesday. They also report good crabbing action.
Rich Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, said giant bluefin were being taken off Rockaway and added that the fluke bite was good on the reefs and wrecks.
Capt. Phil Sciortino, at the Tackle Box in Hazlet, reports a 130-pound bluefin was caught in the Sandy Hook Channel last week. Blues have been appearing all over the place and fluking has been good at Scotland Grounds and the Rattlesnake with porgies hitting at Breezy Point.
John Vafiadis, at the Reel Seat in Brielle, said his customers are catching everything from false albacore, Spanish mackerel and bonito along the beaches and outside the Manasquan Inlet. He added that fluking has been good on all the local reefs with giant bluefin being found not far from shore. There are also a number of southern kingfish while the canyons are giving up bigeye tuna, swordfish and wahoo. “It’s been crazy,” he concluded.
If you’re heading to the beaches, On the Water says the schools don’t stay in one place for long. But chasing them can be frustrating. So, it may be better to stay put and let them come to you.
The first part of the small game hunting season, when dove and resident goose population season, kicks off Sept. 1.
Dove are the most populated small game bird in the state. And are challenging to hunt for two reasons. First, they’re fast flyers as they can dip, dart and reach speeds up to 70 mph with a tail wind. Perhaps faster when peppered by a load of #7 shot.
It’s been said dove are more challenging targets than a round of skeet or trap. Unlike claybirds, whose flight paths are generally known, doves offer every wing shot possible. You’ll have incomers, outgoers, quartering right, quartering left, crossing in front, crossing behind and overhead shots. And once the smoothbore barks, expect the whistling wings to turn on the afterburners and high-tail it out of the area.
The second hardest part of dove hunting is finding a spot to hunt them. As dove are small-grain lovers, look for a harvested grain field for starters. If there is water nearby, so much the better.
Cornfields are good attractors, especially if some ragweed or foxtail grows throughout. However, farmers don’t appreciate hunters traipsing throughout their standing corn, which is predominant right now. Instead, hunt the perimeters and pass up birds flying into the corn as opposed to coming out of it. Aside from that, downed birds are very difficult to located in the standing corn unless you have a good hunting dog to send in.
Upon filling their crops with wheat, corn, ragweed or sunflowers, doves will head off to pick grit and drink water before they roost for the night. This usually happens from about 4 p.m. until sunset. It’s at this time when the shooting action can be fast and frequent.
But it’s important to see doves on-the-wing to learn their flight routes. Scout trees along these routes and try to determine which trees along field edges doves prefer. There’s often a pattern to their movement according to veteran dove hunters.
As for a stand site, take advantage of natural vegetation such as high weeds, a corn-row middle, clumps of bushes, brush or a tree in the middle of a field. Most importantly, remaining still when a bird is sighted is probably the best tip.
If you cannot locate a local dove spot, try state game lands that have cover crops planted such as those on SGL 205 in Lowhill Township, off Route 100. But expect lots of company.
Another good bet are the vast fields in upper Berks County around Topton, Maxatawny, Fleetwood, Lyons, which are predominately owned by Mennonite farmers. Some are even posted as Safety Zones but ask hunting permission first.
Observing dove sitting on the utility wires is also a good sign that there’s a flyway nearby.
As for geese, they’re on the wing and making early morning feeding flights from their resting spots on Lake Muhlenberg and Dorney Park pond. Some can also be found on the Lehigh River and at Leaser Lake in upper Lehigh County and Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County. The question is, where are they putting down once they leave water to feed? Scouting is the best bet.
Unfortunately, local corn and soybean fields are still unharvested making it more difficult to locate a feeding field. As for resident geese, they’ll often hit the same spot day after day until crop fields are harvested then they’ll hit those. And if you're looking for a goose hunting spot, Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County has announced that portions of lake property is open to goose hunting, It's recommended stopping in the lake office for a map of the open areas.
The split dove season runs Sept. 1-Oct. 25 and again from Dec. 16-Jan. 1. whereas goose season has longer runs from Sept. 1-25; Oct. 23-Nov. 26; Dec. 13-Jan. 15; Feb. 4- Feb. 26. Check the Hunting/Trapping Digest for field and possession limits and necessary hunting stamps.
Right about now bats may be finding their way into attics, garages or even living quarters.
Such was the case of my next-door neighbor’s house who we playfully called “The Bat House” because every summer it seemed, she got a bat or two in her house. And since the top floor of her home is an apartment, she has no attic where a bat could enter.
She surmised that either bats came in from her chimney, or at night when a door was opened in her enclosed patio and she wouldn’t notice it right away. There was no other explanation why her home and not ours or her neighbor on the other side of her house, had bats.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) says there are nine species of bats that live at least part of the year in northeastern U.S. and two southern species reside infrequently in Pennsylvania. The agency claims these bats occasionally enter homes most often during summer evenings in mid-July and August. These wayward bats, they contend, are usually pups (baby bats) that are just beginning to fly.
As with my elderly neighbor, the bat would fly in circles around her living room evidently looking for a place to escape or rest.
While there are stories of bats attacking people, getting in their hair while they sleep, they could conceivably carry rabies.
But bats are useful as they can consume as many as 500 insects in an hour or nearly 3,000 every night. A colony of just 100 little brown bats, the most abundant species in the Northeast, may consume more than a quarter million mosquitoes and other small insects each night.
Research has shown that over a course of a summer, a colony of 150 brown bats can eat 38,000 cucumber beetles, 16,000 June bugs, 19,000 stink bugs and 50,000 leafhoppers, and can prevent the hatching of 18 million corn rootworms by devouring the adult beetles.
So, if you get one in your residence, how do you get rid of it?
The PGC says to not chase or swat at it as it will only cause it to panic and fly erratically around the room. Instead, shut all doors to confine the bat then open all windows or door leading outside to give the bat a chance to escape. Don’t try to herd it toward a window, just allow it to get its bearings until it discovers the open escape route. Within 10-15 minutes the bat should settle down and fly out.
If this doesn’t work, and the bat rests on a wall, the PGC suggests quickly putting a large plastic bowl over it and then slide a piece of rigid cardboard between the bowl and wall to trap it, then carry it outside. Here, it’s recommended to place the container on the ground such as a ledge or against a tree, and slide the cardboard out. Unlike birds, most bats must drop from a perch to catch air under their wings before they can fly.
As for my neighbor (who has passed and would comically say bats drove her batty), she used to use a close-knit fishing net to capture the bat in a similar way, then release it outside.
The PA Fish & Boat Commission Board proposes trout season and ice fishing changes
At their recent quarterly meeting, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission recently proposed a few changes that will be good news to anglers.
First off, there will be no fishing license price increase for 2022. The PFBC said that because of revenue generated by an increase in license sales in 2020 and 2021, a price increase is not currently needed.
A resident fishing license will remain at $22.97 and a Trout Permit will remain at $9.97. The PFBC adds that a fishing license fees have remained the same since 2005.
In other business, it was proposed that the opening of the 2022 trout season will again be a single statewide opening day as it was this year. For 2022, trout season will begin the first Saturday in April. The Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will begin the Saturday before the statewide opener.
“Through a wealth of public input, including angler surveys presenting opening day options, it became clear that our agency and most Pennsylvania anglers value and prefer a single opening day of trout season moving forward,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFB Executive Director.
As for pre-season trout stockings, that has in the past been set for March 1, in 2022 it will start two weeks earlier on the first Monday in February.
The PFBC Board also voted to adopt amended regulations pertaining to authorized devices for ice fishing. The new amendment will allow for legal use of devices such as the JawJacker, Automatic Fisherman, Easy Set Hooksetter, Sure Shot Hooksetter and Bro Craft Ice Fishing Tip-Up while ice fishing. The argument for allowing such devices is that the fish are nearly always hooked in the lip. As such, fish do not get the chance to swallow the bait, allowing anglers to return non-targeted and undersized fish to the water unharmed.
Under these changes, the PFBC says anglers must still be active participants in fishing, be nearby their equipment and land the fish as quickly as possible.
The new regulations will go in effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Southwick Associates, a marking research and economics company who does surveys specializing in the hunting, shooting, sportfishing and other outdoor recreation markets, is reporting that ammunition demand will remain strong well into 2021.
In April 2021, Southwick Associates surveyed more than 1,800 ammunition consumers as part of its quarterly HunterSurvey/ShooterSurvey tracking study. In 2020, four out of five consumers encountered out of stock issues while trying to purchase ammunition, while three-quarters encountered out of stock situations so far in 2021. Of these respondents, 79% reported either fully or partially reducing their target shooting and hunting outings as a result of depleted ammunition shelves.
Nearly two-thirds of ammunition consumers report their current ammunition inventory was lower than they would prefer. When asked why they desire more ammunition, key reasons included:
* Uncertainty about future ammunition supplies (72%). This is especially true among consumers 45+ years of age.
* Uncertainty about future restrictions on ammunition purchases (70%).
* Uncertainty about future economic conditions (54%).
* Increased shooting and hunting activity (26%). This was more common among the 25-34 year-old consumers.
"At some point, demand will certainly soften,” reports Rob Southwick, President of Southwick Associates. “However, frenzied purchasing and empty shelves often fuels further increases in demand. We do not see demand softening in the near future.”
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.