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Fishing with Mike O'Brien

by Mike O'Brien
Fall Fishing Opportunities
     

Fall offers the sportsman many choices. Possibly the biggest decision is — Do I hunt or do I fish? Both present a number of options. With leisure time coming at such a premium these days, the die-hard angler often finds it difficult to abandon his piscatorial pastime. With that in mind, the following are some fish species and fisheries worth consideration.
Trout
Just as the fall foliage is flush with brilliant colors of yellow, red, and orange, so too are trout in their spawning suits. Increased stream flows trigger trout migration and a boost in feeding activity. It seems like the fish are willing to attack any number of food items in an attempt to satisfy this increased appetite. The angler’s autumn arsenal can include a variety of lures, flies, or bait. The color gold is a good starting point — gold Rapalas, gold-bladed spinners, or flies with gold tinsel bodies or flash — Krystal Flash or Flashabou.
Options for trout fishing are endless — from an adventure for native brook trout in a mountain creek to larger stocked streams and lakes. And, you don’t have to travel far to wet a line and find success. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) stocking trucks will be visiting Little Pine Creek, Little Pine Lake, Loyalsock Creek, Muncy Creek, and Pine Creek in early October. For a complete listing of all stocked trout waters visit the PFBC website at www.fish.state.pa.us.
Bass
Both largemouth and smallmouth bass will continue to feed through the fall months. From local farm ponds (ask permission please), to the West Branch Susquehanna River and its major tributaries, to large impoundments, bass fishing can be an enjoyable sport. Before the weather/water turn cold throw a spinnerbait, crankbait, or larger soft plastic lure. Flies with lots of flash are recommended. Once the colder weather sets in use a tube or jig and pig, and fish in deeper water. The local fishing shops can give you an idea of what colors produce best. If boat fishing — Wear that PFD (personal floatation device)!
Up for a little travel? Consider Lake Wallenpaupack in Pike and Wayne counties in the northwest part of the Commonwealth. This 13-mile long impoundment offers excellent fall fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Concentrate on near-shore structure, or off-points and drop-offs.
Stripers
Anywhere striped bass are found, there will be feeding frenzies in the fall. Be on the lookout for thrashing baitfish on the surface, driven there by hungry stripers. Large, popping lures, swimbaits, or popping bugs will get noticed by these voracious feeders. If the surface activity is sparse or nonexistent, fish the points, creek mouths, and drop-offs with crankbaits, spoons, swimbaits, or streamers. Destinations include Lake Wallenpaupack, Raystown Lake – Huntingdon County, Blue Marsh Lake – Berks County (both purebred and hybrid stripers), Lake Arthur – Butler County, Shenango Lake – Mercer County, among others.
Musky
Avid musky fishermen look forward to this time of year. The cooler weather seems to put the “fish of 10,000 casts” in a much more aggressive feeding mood. Live bait, or oversize lures and lots of casting and retrieving are the go-to ploys for catching musky. From the nearby West Branch Susquehanna River to multiple fisheries across the state, avid musky fishermen have many options. In lakes, it pays to concentrate your efforts in and around feeder creeks, especially if large enough to create a lake arm. In rivers, muskies can be found near tributary mouths, islands, downed trees, humps, and drop-offs. Effective methods include trolling or fishing tube jigs, giant swim baits (especially those with a tantalizing side-to-side action), spinners, and jerk baits.
A few possibilities for musky include the Susquehanna River – North Branch, West Branch, and the Main Stem, Conneaut and Pymatuning lakes – Crawford County, Glendale Lake- Cambria County, Lake Arthur – Butler County, and Keystone Lake – Armstrong County. Looking for something closer to home? Try Cowanesque Reservoir in Tioga County.
Steelhead
Many anglers descend on the Lake Erie tributaries in the fall in hopes of intercepting a run of steelhead trout. There always seems to be adequate numbers of fish as the PFBC stocks 1 million juvenile steelheads each year. Popular streams include Walnut and Elk creeks, but there are other options.
The clear, shallow water often encountered dictates the use of light line (most choose 4-lb. test) and small hooks/bait, lures, or flies. Marabou microjigs in a variety of colors are a top producer. These are typically fished in 1/80oz., 1/64oz., or 1/32oz., and tipped with a maggot. Fly fishermen opt for nymphs and egg patterns, or streamers when the water temperature is above the 50-degree mark, and the steelhead are more aggressive.
May all your outings this fall be filled with good weather and great fishing.
See you on the water.




 
 
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