Rains helping area waterways for fishing

It's still way too warm out to be considered fall fishing, but the rain being dropped on the area and into local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes is a welcome sign for anglers who are dreaming of fall lunker fishing.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers canceled last Saturday's whitewater release into the Lehigh River from the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven, you knew it was a sign of a dry August.

With the waters rising and the kids back to school, we're awaiting cooler fall temperatures that mean hungrier, more active fish trying to fatten up before the winter.

If you're heading out on the streams, keep an eye peeled for deer movement as archery hunting for antlerless deer in local Wildlife Management Unit 5C begins Sept. 15.

FRESHWATER REPORT

Wallenpaupack Sports Shop, Hawley (570-226-4797): Mark says Lake Wallenpaupack perch are hitting really good on fathead minnows or herring. Smallmouth bass are 12-15 feet deep and going after crank baits. Big pickerel in the 4- to 5-pound range are being caught. Channel catfish are hitting, but there has been no striper activity lately. Largemouth are going after Senko worms at Shohola. The Lackawaxen River is having a banner year for walleyes, and they're still hitting on nightcrawlers. There are some big trout being caught on spinners in the deeper holes.

Mauch Chunk Lake Boat Rental and Bait Shop, 625 Lentz Trail, Jim Thorpe (570-325-0100): Jeremy says the fishing has been getting better at the lake. They are getting reports of lots of bass being caught with minnows, with an average size of 12 inches. The perch are still active at the second boat ramp and the best bets are worms and PowerBait. Catfish are very active at night and are going after chicken livers near the fishing pier. The best times still are early morning before 9 a.m. and early evening after 5 p.m. The fall shop hours Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Oct. 21.

Willie's Bait & Tackle, Cementon (610-261-2767): Willie says the customer action has slowed with the rain, but anglers fishing between the raindrops are getting a lot of smallmouth bass and a few trout. Mauch Chunk has been fishing well. Beltsville is still hit-and-miss. The colder creeks are still producing trout, but other creeks are just too low and filled with warmer water.

Bob's Wildlife Taxidermy, 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield (610-398-7609): Bob says he sold out on bait on Tuesday and had to get a new order. Most of the anglers were picking up catfish in the deeper holes of the Jordan Creek near Kern's Dam and Wehr's Dam. Anglers are going out despite the heat.

Archery @ the Glenn, Allentown (610-791-7665): Brian says the holiday weekend anglers fared well in the Lehigh River and area lakes. Recent rains should bring water levels closer to normal fall patterns on area waterways. Little Lehigh trout are sure to be scattered but sure to be had with a little effort. Rain and humidity have brought archers indoors to the shop for practice and maintenance. Crossbow instruction is available, and Brian cautions users to be safe and keep your fingers clear. This is Barnett week at the shop.

Heritage Fly Shop, Little Lehigh Parkway, Allentown (610-248-8836): Dave says it's time to do some fall fishing. Look for tricos to hatch later in the morning. There has been a hex hatch and some PMD activity. The shop will be closed Monday through Sept. 17.

Mike's Bait & Sports Shop, Nazareth (610-759-2905): Mike says activity has been slow, particularly on the Delaware River. Some flurries of action have been reported on Lake Wallenpapauck, Mauch Chunk Lake and Shohola. The Lehigh River has been giving up a lot of small smallmouth. Lake Nockamixon has been so-so for bass.

Klotz's Bait Shop, Hellertown (610-838-7970): Caroline says Daniel Ruhe of Bethlehem caught three channel catfish, one at 26 inches, 3 pounds in a pond on large shiners. People are still trout fishing at the Grist Mill and fishing the local ponds.

Cabela's, Hamburg (610-929-7000): Brooke Hoffman of Cabela's says that with all the rain we had this past week, our lakes, ponds and rivers should be nice and refreshed with extra nutrients and cooler temperatures, which will have a domino effect and stimulate the food chain from the tiniest creatures on up to the lunker bass we are all seeking. This stimulus will be especially noticeable where feeder creeks, no matter how small, will attract fish into those coves and lake arms, as big bass set up for their fall feeding patterns. Those fall feeding patterns mean a more aggressive approach can take some of the biggest fish of the year, as bass set up on structure such as stumps in order to ambush their prey, which are also more active. Getting away from slower-moving, finesse-type soft plastics used during the sluggish, hot-weather season, and going with a variety of crank baits and flash baits, should stimulate some action. Jerk baits such as Rapala Husky Jerks and X-Raps, swim baits with action tails like Yum Money Minnows and Skippy Fish will get attention from a big bass hovering below at a stump or rock bed. Another option is to dig down with a deep diver such as a Shad Rap, Hot'n Tot, Strike King Squarebill or Rebel WeeCraw. The trick is to be sure you are bouncing these lures off the bottom or structure, not just swimming them. Flash baits, such as Terminator, War Eagle and Boohyah spinner baits, and one of the best of the best fall baits — Z-Man, The Original Chatterbait — are certainly go-to fall baits. Easy to use, the flash and vibration these lure emit are just the ticket for bass. Usually with these lures, he goes with whites, chartreuse and silvers, but in the fall, black/blue is an excellent Chatterbait color.

SALTWATER REPORT

NEW JERSEY

The Tackle Box in Hazlet (732-264-7711) http://www.striperspecial.com: Phil says the catching is on for porgys, spots, croakers and weakfish all over the place in the bay and ocean. Lots of blues have moved in, and weakfish are getting caught on worms. Fluke are still being caught, and striped bass are hitting worms at night in the channels. Bottom fishing has been good on the reef, but there's a big swell right now, so you may be better off staying in the bay,

BARNEGAT BAY

Brielle Tackle (732-528-5720) http://www.brielletackle.com: Greg says there are very good blues being caught on the party boats, and albacore are seven to 15 miles out, so they're in range. The action has been good for a while. Fluking is also pretty good with a lot of 5- to 6-pound fluke closer to the beaches by Point Pleasant bayhead near Seaside. The river and inlet have spots, kingfish, snapper blues and small porgys, so the action is good for the beach anglers.

LITTLE EGG INLET

Scott's Bait & Tackle (609-296-1300) http://www.scottsbt.com: Scott says it's bad right now in the bay with fresh water flowing into the saltwater after 11 inches of rain on Tuesday, and about another four on Wednesday after another torrential downpour. The Mullica River is washing out the Great Bay, so things will be tough until saltwater gets back in the bay. Even crabbing will be off. Waves are 4-6 feet on the ocean. Reef fishing is so-so because the fish are in tight structure, tight to the reefs. Early-season fluking has been good, but the mile-long drifts not so much. Some 1-pound blues are available trolling outside the breakers, or along the birds' sightlines.

DELAWARE

REHOBOTH BEACH

Old Inlet Bait & Tackle (302-227-7974) http://www.oldinlet.com: Jim says the surf is loaded with small spot, kingfish, croakers, Pompano and a few red drum. Fresh mullet, bunker, blood worms and strips of squid are the best baits right now. Croakers and flounder are being caught in the inlet. Flounder are getting caught in the bay and at the artificial reefs. The striper bite in the inlet is incredibly slow due to warm water and a huge amount of bait in the bay. The weather and water need to cool off for that to pick up again.

gary.blockus@mcall.com

610-820-6782

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