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Outdoors: warmer fishing days ahead

After a cold and unseasonable weekend, this week’s forecast of temperatures in the 60s should allow better fishing conditions.

Before the cold front hit, anglers were picking up trout from area streams and the Lehigh River. In particular, the Little Lehigh from Bogart’s Bridge downstream that was stocked last Thursday with fish from the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Hatchery. And from stream reports, anglers there were picking up some sizable trout. One angler caught and released 21 on the day after the stocking so there should be a lot of leftovers.

As for the Lehigh River that was stocked by the Lehigh River Stocking Association from Northampton upriver, Willie from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon said the dam area in Northampton/Cementon sides were producing trout as was the portion of river in the Slatington stretch around the Rte. 873 bridge. Willie said most guys are using fathead minnows, night crawlers, Blue Fox spinners and Weaver’s Grabber spoons (a local lure maker). And trout are ranging from 13-19 inches with an occasional lunker.

Up at Leaser Lake, Willie said not many anglers are lake fishing as yet but he hears anglers are picking up some bass, crappies and muskies. At Mauch Chunk Lake it’s mostly crappies on minnows.

Chris from Chris’ Bait & Tackle in Mertztown, reports Ontelaunee Reservoir in Berks County is fishing excellent for catch-and-release bass that are being enticed with rubber skirted jigs and Senko worms. Crappie and catfish there are also starting to turn on.

At Leaser Lake, bass up to five pounds and over are being caught and Chris added that it’s common to catch three-four pounders mostly on jigs. Muskie action was slow there but should pick up again with warming weather.

Blue Marsh Lake, also in Berks County, is fishing good for catch-release bass since the opening of trout season and crappies there are starting to hit, the latter favoring fathead minnows.

Mike, from Mike’s Bait & Tackle in Nazareth, said the shad bite is on in the Delaware River and they’re being caught from below Easton on up to the Delaware Water Gap. Most are being hooked on darts and flutter spoons and there’s a mix of roe and bucks.

And while on the subject of shad, it’s not known at this time why the Delaware River Shad Fishermen Association’s Shad Hotline phone numbers were disconnected. They were always a good shad fishing source. But anglers can go to the associations Facebook page and click on their “Fishing Log” for timely angler reports.

And then there’s commercial shad fishermen Steve Meserve, who hasn’t had much luck in his annual shad netting operation on the Delaware River. His problems were either storms that made the water high and unsafe with lots of debris, or cold river water temperatures.

Mike went on to report that Minsi Lake trout action is good. One customer came in and said he caught 11 the last few days, one of which was a 21-inch Palomino. Orange Power Bait appears the bait of choice for Minsi trout.

When asked about Delaware River stripers, Mike said he hears most action is south around Philadelphia and Delaware Bay area.

On the saltwater scene, On the Water Magazine reports the striper spawn is on and they’re making their way from Delaware Bay up past Delaware and along the Jersey coast.

For southern New Jersey, the magazine says stripers are active around most sod banks, bridges and inlets. Bluefish too have started to arrive at some of the inlets and areas up to Brigantine. They added that drum fishing has been hot with the Delaware Bay the most productive at Tussey’s slough, Pin Top and the Punk Grounds.

In northern New Jersey, they report blues have shown up in Raritan Bay, Shrewsbury and Naversink rivers.

Boaters are hooking stripers on bunker spoons, Mojos, live bunker and bunker chunks around Hazlet, while beach anglers are using worms and chunks at night.

Sportsmen have a choice what to pursue right now be it spring gobblers, trout, shad or stripers. All that’s needed is cooperating weather.

Press photo by Nick HromiakAnglers looking for hard fighting shad may try their luck in Easton where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware River.