Second only to trout, black bass is the most popular sportfish that Pennsylvania anglers fish for. And beginning June 17, the season for them opens with a creel limit of six and a size limit of at least 12 inches.
Despite this, most bass anglers wisely practice catch-and-release. It’s not because largemouth and smallmouth bass aren’t good eating, because they are. It’s because they’re more fun to catch-and-release as they can be caught again another day.
While smallmouth bass are predominately a river and stream fish, they can still be caught in one of Pennsylvania’s 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, most of which contain bass says the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PF&BC). Of that number and for those new to the area, here are the more popular local waters that hold bass.
Blue Marsh Lake: It’s the largest lake in the county where motorboats with unlimited horsepower can be used. It’s located off Route 222 northwest of Reading and in the area of Bernville.
Ontelaunee Reservoir: Also located off Route 222, This impoundment has to be fished from shore or wading as no boats or watercraft are allowed. This lake probably holds the largest bass of any lake around this and other counties mainly because access is limited.
Lake Nockamixon: Located between routes 313 and 412 outside of Quakertown, is a large lake with a 10-hp limit on outboard motors. It has an extensive shoreline that contains good fish structure. It’s the premier lake in this county as it contains hybrid striped bass as well.
Beltzville Lake: This elongated lake has no power limit for boats and is a popular bass water with Preachers Camp area being one of the hotspots. It’s located off the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike outside Lehighton.
Mauch Chunk Lake: Much smaller in size (330 acres) as are the bass there. While there are some lunkers, many of the fish are on the stunted size but still fun to catch. Chunk is located on Lentz Trail Road west of Jim Thorpe.
Leaser Lake: Since it’s coming back from being drained, the only legal keeper fish are trout. And the bass stocked there are still on the mini lunker size. But muskies have been a big hit and they too must be released if caught.
Locust and Tuscarora lakes: Located west of Barnesville near Route 52, these sister lakes offer 52 acres of fishing at Locust Lake and 100 at Tuscarora. Both hold good populations of largemouths.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, Shohola Lake is prime bassin’ waters in that it’s shallow and loaded with above water structure. It also holds some 8-pound largemouths. This is an electric motor-only lake that’s located off Route 6 between Milford and Lake Wallenpaupak.
This is but a fingernail summary of some of the local favored bass fishing waters. But don’t overlook farm ponds. You may be surprised the size of some bass in these small waters.
WOMEN IN THE OUTDOORS
For ladies 14 and up, Women in the Outdoors is an annual learning experience for those who always wanted to try shooting a bow, rifle, crossbow, handgun, casting a fly rod, paddling a kayak/canoe, cooking outdoors the rustic way, nature identification, camping and more. It will be held this year on June 17 at Ontelaunee Rod & Gun Club in New Tripoli.
For ladies who attended in past years, a change has been made in the handgun shooting segment. Instead of firing at close range where self defense shooting is taught, it now has to be done behind the shooting bench. It’s my understanding that Ontelaunee R&G insisted on the change. In a past year, a blind lady from New Jersey shot the course and did quite well under guidance from an instructor, most of which were certified full-time police officers.
To register for the classes contact Debbie Smalley at 484-651-2174 or check their website at LehighValleyWITO@yahoo.com. The cost for the day is $55 by Sunday, June 11 and $65 thereafter. For a complete schedule check Ontelaunee.org/women-in-the-outdoors.
TEAM RIVER RUNNER
June 14 is also the date for Team River Runner’s hosted kayaking event at Leaser Lake. The event is provided as adaptive kayaking instruction for disabled veterans and civilians. For more details, check TeamRiverRunner.com.
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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.