Pennsylvania’s season on one of the state’s most popular fish (second only to trout) opened on Saturday, when both smallmouth and largemouth bass became legal quarry for the commonwealth’s eager anglers. According to the folks at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the timing for the opening of bass season was pretty much perfect with summer here and the school year ending.
“Bass are always one of the most popular sportfish targeted by anglers,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The weather’s been nice and kids are about to go on summer break, so we know anglers are excited to get out and start the season.”
The start of bass season also fell on Father’s Day weekend, and Arway surmised this might have an impact on participation as well.
“I can’t think of a better way for grandfathers and fathers to spend their weekend than outside fishing with their sons, daughters and grandkids,” he said.
Hotspots for bass fishing here in Chester County include Marsh Creek Lake for largemouth and the Brandywine Creek for the somewhat feistier smallmouth. Hundreds of private ponds throughout the county also boast healthy populations of the traditional bluegill/bass warm water fishing combo. If you can gain access to one of these farm ponds, you may find yourself in bass fishing nirvana.
With my own backyard pond loaded with bluegills and largemouth, I get the opportunity to experiment with some of the vast choices bass anglers have when it comes to terminal tackle. In the past, my top two producers for bass have always been white spinnerbaits worked across the surface and pumpkinseed worms bounced off the bottom. My latest favorite is to rig a 4-inch Gary Yamamoto Yamasenko worm – Watermelon Red Magic or Watermelon Red and Green – with a Gamakatsu size 2 octopus hook impaled at mid-worm without any other weight. The first time I tossed this combination into my pond I instantly hooked up with the biggest bucketmouth in the neighborhood. It’s been a steady producer ever since.
Meanwhile, the PFBC reminds anglers that “catch and immediate release” regulations apply to smallmouth and largemouth bass on the lower sections of the Susquehanna River (below Sunbury) and Juniata River (below Port Royal) and into the rivers’ tributaries to points one-half river-mile upstream from the confluence. For more information about the smallmouth bass issue in the Susquehanna River, visit http://fishandboat.com/susq-impairment.htm.