Bass fishing season opened recently and according to the state Fish and Boat Commission, anglers can look forward to excellent fishing opportunities this season on area waterways.
“The season is looking really good,” said Waterways Conservation Officer Joe Russell. “The vegetation isn’t on very heavy and, with the warm weather, the fish are getting active.”
Russell said that Stevens Lake looks very promising, offering a lot of structure for bass to hide inside. Fishermen should be aware, though, that Stevens Lake is enrolled in the Big Bass Program which imposes a 15-inch minimum size limit and a daily possession limit of four.
Russell said the lake is also electric motor only.
The WCO said that smaller farm ponds and smaller bodies of water will offer good bass fishing, as well as Lake Carey, Lake Winola and the Susquehanna River. “The smallmouth are jumping in the river really well,” Russell said.
Russell advised that anglers will have the best chance of landing a bass using a fly rod or lighter rig. Fishermen should keep their lures away from the bottom, he said, because algae levels this year are high.
Lake Winola fisherman Bill Sickles, who last year reeled in a 20-inch largemouth, said he has been fishing since “Boy Scout age” – or roughly 35 years. The longtime area fisherman has his fishing strategies and hot spots already in place.
Lake Winola, Sickles said, offers good bass fishing opportunities but it can get too crowded, at times, with motorboats. Sickles, who fishes from a canoe, said he prefers Harris Pond, a lake near Sweet Valley. “It’s not overly fished,” said Sickles and also recommended bass fishing in the Susquehanna River.
According to Sickles, bass fishing is a skill all its own, different in a number of ways from trout fishing. He said that trout fishing, to him, involves flyfishing and streams, while bass fishing brings to mind “sitting in a boat throwing out a lot of lures and retrieving.”
“It’s a totally different way of fishing,” Sickles said of bass fishing. “There’s a lot more action on my part.”
A bass fisherman, Sickles said, needs to be willing to try several types of lures before finding success. “Different lures are more successful in different places,” said Sickles. “You have to have faith in the lure that you’re using; that it will work.”
Sickles said his favorite lure is a flat fish, surface lure. “You have to retrieve it slowly and it has this crazy side-to-side action,” he said. And in Lake Winola, Sickles tends to use lures that sink due to the number of docks located around the lake.
Bass can be difficult fish to land, according to Sickles. “Some are real fighters and some just lay there like an old boot,” he said. “But they will go to the bottom, get that hook off and you’ll pull up nothing but weeds.”
Sickles releases all of the fish he catches; and during bass season, he looks forward to taking his canoe out on local waterways at least once or twice a month whether he catches anything or not. “I like to relax,” Sickles said. “Like they say, catching fish is only part of the fun.”
Bass season runs through Oct. 31 on lakes and through Sept 30 on rivers and streams. Minimum size limit is 12 inches and daily possession limit is six.