ZEKE WILSON: Bass, groundhogs coming into view
The Amish boat traffic on Route 85 on Saturday morning was a quick reminder that the opening day of bass season is fast approaching.
On June 14, bass will be legal for keeps, and a host of associations are holding tournaments, with a number of those locally. Whether for the table or prize winnings, catching a limit of legal bass is always an accomplishment.
Much like the abundance of panfish, which are open year-round, the natural reproduction of largemouth and smallmouth in warm waters across the state allow for quality fishing without the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission having to contribute much financially.
• Coincidentally, the trout fishing pressure is plummeting while most streams and lakes still hold fish. While the easy trout are mainly gone from the accessible areas, those that remain can be found in the best holes along the stream regardless of where they stock. Where rainbow trout are stocked, going further downstream often will produce bites, although the distance is often just a guess.
Fishing a stretch of unstocked stream searching for transplants, holdovers or possibly even a native trout differs greatly from April trout fishing. Good canopy cover and structure to break the current are good spots to focus on, although trout could be basically anywhere at this point.
While the numbers have declined, those trout that remain have acclimated well to the current and waste little time taking a proper presentation. With that understood, one can cover water quickly, focusing more attention to promising spots and less to marginal sections.
Anglers, eagles, blue herons, osprey, otters and minks all make a dinner of trout.
As the temperature rises, many water bodies become too balmy for trout to be active other that at first and last light. Night fishing a lake can produce when the day doesn’t, and the use of an artificial light often attracts bugs first and then the fish. While a lantern suspended is fine, submersible lights are not legal in the state despite being sold readily locally and online.
Considering all of the above it makes sense to go trout fishing sooner rather than later.
• Walleye, pike, pikerel, catfish, carp and muskie are all in season, with varying limits and size restrictions. While the taste and fight can vary, I was never one to pass up a species willing to take the hook.
Drifting live bait for suckers in some of the slower pools can be as challenging as for trout. Unfortunately the regulations handbook does not provide images of all native fish. With many in the sucker family viewed as trash fish, obtaining a quality pocket fish identification booklet for new and old anglers alike is wise. Crossing a new species off the list of fish caught is exciting regardless of size or how it is viewed by society.
If given the choice to be handed a rod with either a carp or a trout hooked, I would eagerly reach for the bottom feeder every time.
• Now that spring gobbler is closed, the groundhog hunting will begin to follow the cutting of hay. Corn and bean fields can still be shot over, although not for much longer. While groundhogs are all but impossible to eliminate, most farmers like to see the woodchucks thinned out sooner rather than later.