Weekly Fishing Report: 4th Annual Bass N' Bourbon festival a success
The 4th Annual Bass N' Bourbon festival is now in the books! It went off without a hitch. We had Bradford County anglers, folks from South Central Pennsylvania near Altoona, Pa. Some came from the Pocono's/Scranton, Pa., and even an angler who came from Dallas, Texas. The skill levels were from expert to "brand new to fishing." We fished a multitude of warm-water creeks and the North Branch of the Susquehanna from Meshoppen, Pa. to Wyalusing, Pa.
During this three-day festival, all participants caught multi-species of fish from rock bass, fallfish, panfish, smallmouth bass, and even the elusive Quillback Carpsucker on various lures and flies. It was very relaxed fishing and more experienced anglers even gave "how-to" lessons on the water to help out the lesser-experienced anglers. It was a real blessing to fish with like-minded anglers who all desire to protect and conserve the natural beauty of North Branch Susquehanna River watershed and its resident gamefish. We all enjoyed the amazing strength, diversity, resiliency of this river and surrounding creeks. These fisheries that are filled bank-to-bank with surprise and opportunity for anglers of all skill level.
Post-fishing we enjoyed a free dinner consisting of bourbon infused grilled meats and side dishes. I must give a big Thank You to the musical genius Ed Schmitt, Jr. He came out and brought his professional one-man troubadour show to our Festival. If you have never seen Mr. Schmitt play live, he is wonder to listen to with his contemporary mix of classic rock and "coffee-house" acoustic guitar styles. I highly suggest you book him for live entertainment at your next event or party by calling (570)-485-9609. Moreover, many thanks bestowed to Brenda Wills (and her staff at TTownBakery.com (570-268-YUMM) for providing the most unique and "manly" dessert of Bourbon Cupcakes. These custom-designed bourbon cupcakes were delicious and something any distilled spirit aficionado should try at least once! Then we had our famous bourbon and whiskey sampling sessions trying some excellent varieties from both the Bourbon region of Kentucky and other micro-craft distilleries.
RIVER FISHING: The balmy water temperatures still remain close to the 80-degree mark even with the harsh thunderstorms at the end of this week. The conditions are a bit muddy, but fishable with some patience and a little luck. Successful fishing can be found in areas where cooler tributaries flow into the river. Finding these cooler current seams will lead to numerous hook-ups on a variety of lures. However, the top producing lure has been lead-head jigs retrieved slowly on the bottom in subtle natural baitfish colors of olive, brown, and black. The Topwater bite is gaining during the early morning hours and just at dusk with high-water column hard-baits such as Hub's Chubs and Mini-Torpedo style lures. When boating please keep an eye out for swimmers and wade-fishers. Due to the low flows folks have been getting farther into the boating channels. Remain vigilant! Because those small shapes you see in the water are probably people enjoying the river and NOT just a gaggle of Canadian Geese.
LAKE & POND FISHING: The best reports came from guys fishing panfish. An abundance of bluegills, rock bass, and small perch were caught on live bait fathead minnows and worms. However, double-bladed spinners were working within the deeper centers of both Mountain Lake and Sunfish Pond. On Stephen Foster Lake, good numbers of crappies caught on live minnows and worms, but most were small. Few fish over 10 inches were caught and finding schools of bigger fish has been a struggle. Live bait has far outperformed lures this week. The lower water levels in the lakes and ponds have had the fish pretty picky.
TRIBUTARY FISHING: Just about every July we experience warm water temperatures in our streams, and most years we also have low water conditions. The bottom line being, we don't do much fishing for trout in July or August in Bradford County. This year, the situation seems to be unusually severe, mostly due to the lack of rain. Needless to say, I haven't fished for much trout.
The warm temps have not stopped the bugs from hatching though. In the mornings there have been good hatches of Tricos, as I reported two weeks ago. As the weeks pass, the Tricos generally get smaller - they are down to sizes No. 24-26, and the wild trout found in the Hillsgrove, Pa. area of the Loyalsock Creek watershed have been on them. In the evenings, the porch lights have been attracting good numbers of little amber and olive Stoneflies, Little Yellow Quills No. 20-22, Isonychias No. 10-12, small Rusty Spinners No. 18-22, Spotted Caddis (Hydropsyche sp.), micro caddis, and a cream drake or two some nights. I also saw one of the huge Litobrancha's the other evening, about a No. 6-8 mayfly, that is truly a wonder of nature. At least we know the trout have plenty of food available.
If you do some homework, there is some very good early AM bass flyfishing in the region to fish rising to diminutive flies. Now one must fish small sizes from No. 18-26, and be prepared to go smaller if you are getting refusals. This is the time that having the right size imitation on the end of your tippet can make the difference between catching and just fishing. However, if fishng streamers is your game, I've had great success on my Emerson Hough Bucktail Streamer Fly in solid colors of black and brown in sizes 8 through 10. Most of my larger smallmouth have come on this pattern. Fish it on the bottom with a various slow twitch-retreive over any rocky structure. The bass have been sulking at the bottom due to "skinny" water flows. Boy, we really need some soaking rain to knock the fishing back from "marginal" to good!
Have a great week! Good luck on the water! Please let me know how you are doing on all of our great fisheries by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Pelachik is an avid angler and master jig & fly tyer of JJ's Jigs located in Towanda, Pa. Visit his website at www.jjsjigs.com