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Bass fishing opener coming June 14

While it doesn't have the fanfare or crowds of the trout opener, Pennsylvania's June 14 bass season opener on area lakes and rivers has a larger year-round following that faithfully practice catch-and-release.

When seeking top bass waters in Lehigh Valley, veteran anglers hit the big three of Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono's, Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County and Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County.

On a smaller scale, there's Beltzville Lake in Carbon County, Lake Galena in Bucks, Locust and Tuscarora lakes in Schuylkill County, and in the Pocono's, Pecks Pond and Promised Land (upper and lower) lakes.

Then there's my favorite, Shohola Lake in the Pocono's that has always been a good bass performer. If you happen to get snagged while fishing there and pull up an anchor, it's probably the one I lost several years ago thanks to an anchor clip that somehow opened while I was attempting to pull it in.

Of course there are local farm ponds that harbor some hefty four and five pound largemouth's. These small one or two acre shallow ponds fool you into thinking they don't hold sizable bass. But many of them do.

Some years back while fishing a small New Tripoli farm pond, I latched onto a three-pound smallmouth, a fish that shouldn't be there as it was out of its typical waters. For smallmouth, the Lehigh River below the falls in Northampton is always a favored spot by local anglers.

When it comes to fishing for largemouth's, avid anglers throw the gamut of lures from spinnerbaits, jigs, crankbaits and plastic worms. The latter two have seen some new arrivals from Berkley who dominate the scented plastic worm market and fishing line. Their new Trilene, 100 percent clear fluorocarbon professional grade line that Berkley says has a unique formula that is ideal for spinning reels.

As for plastic worms, their new 4.5-inch Rib Shad has ribs and a flat tail that cater to larger bass. Then there's the 3.5-inch Fight'n Bug that resembles a crawdad and 6-inch (pro angler Gary Klein design) Boss Dog with curly tail. Their (Skeet Reese design) 3-inch Pit Boss Jr. looks like a traditional jig with curly tails. And if you're casting to really big bass, you may want to consider Berkley's giant 6-inch Slim Shad used on a swimbait jighead. This worm can also double for saltwater stripers.

Then there's the new Flicker Shad Pro Rattle N' Roll flicker action crankbaits that come in several sizes. Their long bill provides good deep digging action and the internal split shot offers a noisy fish attracting attention.

Whatever you choose, early season bass are easier to catch now than when temperatures heat up. And most of the time the action is best at dawn and dusk when the bass are shallow.

If you're a saltwater angler, stripers are super hot right now at the Jersey shore and lower Delaware River in Philadelphia.

According to the Worm People Tackle Shop in Philly, one customer fished below Petty's Island and caught over 100 stripers from 12-23 inches. Most of the stripes came on bunker and bloodworms.

Another customer fished the Delaware at the mouth of the Pennsauken and caught two slot stripers one 39-incher.

Some guys fishing way down the river on the flats below the Commodore Barry Bridge hooked several 30-40 inch fish on chunked bunker and live eels. They reported most of the big females were all spawned-out so they didn't think they would go any higher in the river.

Up in New Hope area of the Delaware, live eels have been taking stripes 30-inches long and up to 25 pounds. Another angler fished Lambertville with eels and caught three linesiders over 40 inches. He also caught several 24-28 inch stripes.

So you see, you don't have to drive all the way to the Jersey shore to hook up with stripers as they're right here in the Delaware River. And they should start showing up shortly in the Easton area as they traditionally follow the herring that follow the shad run.