I was fortunate enough to have a week off in September, and I spent it wandering around the Lehigh Valley/Pocono Regions of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
A couple of things that bear mentioning to my fellow New Yorkers if they intend to visit PA to fish:
1.) If you are fishing a Pennsylvania Fish and Game managed park, you NEED to get a launch pass for you kayak. They are $10 annually, and you can buy them online at the PFG website.
2.) You also, of course, need a PA fishing license. I opted for the 3-Day Tourist license. $16 or so. I also had to get a trout stamp for $10 though, because of where we were intending to fish. If you’re going near trout waters, get the trout stamp.
Day One – Mauch Chunk Lake, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Mauch Chunk Lake is low, but it didn't hamper the fishing
If you’ve never been to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a European feeling little city built into a valley. Narrow streets, cramped sidewalks, and great food and beer. There’s a picture to be taken every several footsteps, and something new to taste or smell as well. Plus, you can whitewater kayak on the Lehigh River here, or rent mountain bikes and head off on your own.
The real gem, however, is Mauch Chunk Lake. A man made impoundment, Mauch Chunk is loaded with bass, pickerel, and perch. Imagine our surprise, however, as we pulled up and found the water resting listlessly 20 feet away from the docks.
Concerns over water level though quickly dissipated, as no sooner had we launched than we were into bass and pickerel.
Between the two of us, I’d say we brought 30 fish TO the canoe, and landed a good number of those.
Returning a Small Mauch Chunk Largemouth as the sun sets
Day 2 – Kaercher Creek Park
Out towards Harrisburg is Kaercher Creek. Another man made impoundment, a dam backs up water into a pretty deep basin. Trout rise along the dam, and bass and pickerel cruise the shady depths back towards the creek “mouth”.
Discovering that the water isn't low at Kaercher Creek
For this trip, I headed out in the LiquidLogic. I threw some flies at the trout rising in the dam area, but no avail. Sun fish were picking off the flies before the trout could get to them. It was an interesting conundrum.
I tried the shoreline for a bit, and scared up a largemouth or two, but then I headed down to the creek end, which is very sloppy. Duckweed, milfoil, lily pads, and other tangles cover that end, and in previous years, we had done well for pickerel and bass here.
This year? One hit. I’m beginning to think Kaercher fishes a little like Canadice. As you get later in the year, evening fishing is the only way to go. Maybe dawn as well.
My partners, Andy and Tara, did a little better working the deeper shorelines, but not much. We pulled off the water right at sunset, and headed out for Mexican food.
Kaercher Creek - A building near the boat launch
Day 3 – Mauch Chunk Lake Again
I wasn’t going to let this trip go by without getting my kayak into the tree stumps on the west end of Mauch Chunk Lake. (Video coming soon).
So, with a fly rod and a spinning rod in hand, I nosed the Liquid Logic west, and got to work.
The wind was up a bit, so I had to be creative in anchoring and fishing, but I got used to it over a few hours.
Mauch Chunk Largemouth Bass
Andy and Tara were drifting the middle of the Lake, and scaring up some nice bass. I started in the tree stumps, picked up a few pickerel and a bass on the spinning rod, and then started to drift east as well. The winds were heavy, so I wasn’t fly fishing.
The south shore is very rocky. Even more so when the Lake is 10 or 15 feet higher.
Rocky Shoreline on Mauch Chunk
I was running out of Senkos by this point, as the little pickerel just LOVE to chew on them, so I switched to black tubes with red specks.
Great idea as it turned out. I was fishing one unweighted on the spinning rod, and with a tube jig head on the baitcaster. The spinning rod started bagging pickerel and bass on almost every cast in these rocks. In fact, it was working so well that I lost track of time, and really had to hustle to get back to the west end to try to catch an 18″ pickerel on the fly rod.
With the sun dropping like a deflated balloon over my shoulder, I hammered the water in the stumps with my fly rod. I was using a big slider/popper/gurgler, and working it fast.
I had hits on almost every cast, and finally landed about a 14″ pickerel. Then the sun dropped like a stone, and I had to paddle hard to get off the water before legal dusk. I didn’t have a light on me, and as a guest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I didn’t want to push my luck.
I’ll post up the videos tonight!