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Lunkerfest kicks off Saturday on Lehigh River

Just listening to our local shop owners, there are plenty of holdover stocked trout in all the local waterways, but not many people fishing for them, even after the fish-for-free day in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day.

This Saturday, the Lehigh River Stocking Association is kicking off its 2014 Lunkerfest, which was postponed from May 17 due to too much water being released into the river from the Frances E. Walter Dam, as well as heavy rains.

The trout contest is headquartered at the East Penn Township Boat Launch across from Bowmanstown 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. Saturday. On-site registration is $20 and begins 7 a.m. Kids under 12 can enter the contest for free.

The Lehigh River Stocking Association is the only organization that stocks legal-size trout in the Lehigh south of Lehighton. The group has stocked 500 trout in the 14-30-inch range the morning of the contest, with 100 tagged for special prizes. The nonprofit LRSA completed its regular stocking session last Sunday with approximately 1,800 pounds of rainbow and brown trout put into the river from Lehighton through Northampton.

No alcohol is allowed. Bait and club memberships are available for purchase.

Prizes for tagged fish not awarded on the day of Lunkerfest will be awarded during the extended contest, which goes until June 25. All rules for the contest are available at registration.

The group has been monitoring the rain situation because there is a high-water date of May 31 if the water is flowing at greater than 1,000 fps from Frances E. Walter Dam on the date of the contest.

The Five Mile High Stocking Club, which originated and meets monthly at the Mauch Chunk Rod and Gun Club in Jim Thorpe, is another private organization that stocks the Lehigh with legal-size trout.

The Five Mile High club has stocked approximately 750 trout in the 14-20 inch range each of the last four years in the Lehigh from above the Route 903 bridge for about five miles through the gorge to the inflow of Bear Creek.

FMHSC memberships can be purchased by sending a check for $20 to: Five Mile High Stocking Club. P.O. Box 4000, Jim Thorpe, Pa., 18229.


2014 Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations:

2014 Pennsylvania Trout Stocking Schedule:

Wallenpaupack Sports Shop, Route 6, Hawley (570-226-4797): Mark says the Lackawaxen River fly fishing for trout is productive on March browns on the surface and woolly bugs. Red worms have been hot for golden trout. The shad run has slowed down on the Delaware River, but walleye and stripers are being caught on lampreys by the Narrowsburg Bridge. Smallmouth bass action has been decent. The fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack is the best he's seen in five years. Surface water temperatures are about 62-63, so it should be optimal for a few more weeks. Stripers are being caught up to 35 pounds on drifting herring. Walleye are being caught at night along the long flats on Bomber Long A's and Ripplin' Red Fins. Smallmouth are being caught on Kai-tech tubes in watermelon. Skip Standon (570-780-7604), a guide on Wallenpaupack, pulled in 27 smallmouth during a charter last Friday. Big channel catfish are going after stink bait or nightcrawlers. Calico are going after fathead minnows in Martins Cove and off the weed beds. Trout action is good while trolling, and one local caught a 16-pound, 34-inch trout from his dock on deep running crank bait. Shohola largemouth bass are liking Yamamotos. The panfish bite for bluegills and perch is phenomenal there and in Lake Greeley. Fairview Lake trout are going after PowerBait along the shorelines.

Willie's Bait & Tackle, 5105 Main St., Cementon (610-261-2767): Willie says Justin Koch of Bethlehem went to Sea Isle fluke tournament. He caught a 6.7-pounder the first day to win the tournament. He caught it on a SPRO jig. His group caught 14 keepers that day, plus some bluefish. The Lehigh River has been productive despite the storms. The Jordan and Little Lehigh are also producing. Crappies and pickerel are being caught in Shohola and Little Mud Pond.

Bob's WildlifeTaxidermy, 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield (610-398-7609): Bob says quite a few customers are trying all different waterways and are finding them plentiful with trout. The upper Jordan through the state game lands has been really productive. Bass action is picking up. Lakes and mine or quarry water temperatures are perfect right now. Some anglers are getting rigged up for catfish. Hot baits include fathead minnows and shiners. Bob caught a nice brown trout on a shiner last Sunday. Turkey hunting has been spotty. A lot of nice birds were brought in for mounting, but the action hasn't been consistent seeing them or calling them in.

Heritage Fly Shop, 2643 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown (610-248-8836): Dave says sulphurs are reported to be on most of the local streams. The last hour of daylight is generally the most productive. During the day, use caddis, crane flies and ants on top. There are a wide range of nymphs on the bottom. Use anything from size 14 to size 24 in your favorite pattern. If the evening thunderstorms cause heavy flow and off color water, black and olive woolly buggers work well.

Mike's Bait & Sports Shop, 328 East Lawn Rd., Nazareth, (610-759-2905): Mike says trout fishing is good in Jacobsburg with a lot of fish being caught. Panfish are on everywhere. Blaine said that one of the customers caught more than 50 trout in one day on public water along the Bushkill Creek. Shad are still being caught in the Delaware.

Klotz's Bait Shop, 216 Hess Ave., Hellertown (610-838-7970): Caroline says the Saucon, Little Lehigh and Lake Nockamixon are doing well. She caught a lot of sunnies on Monday's fish-for-free day and probably hooked into a carp that broke off her line. Branson Benner, 3, from the East Penn area, caught his first fish ever, all by himself.

Cabela's, 100 Cabela Drive Hamburg, (610-929-7000): Jon Reilly, the fishing and fly fishing department manager at Cabela's, says that fishing opportunities abound along the northern N.J. coast with stripers, bluefish and summer flounder being caught in good numbers from party boats. High or muddy stream conditions locally have made fishing tough, but persistent anglers have still been picking up a mix of stocked trout in the streams and some smallmouth in the rivers. Look for fishing to improve if we can go a few days without any heavy rains. Catch-and-release bass fishing is hot right now with almost every local lake, pond, and reservoir producing fish. Fish seem to be holding along shoreline structure and along the inside and outside edges of weed lines. Don't forget that carp and catfish activity will be heating up with the warming water temperatures. Some anglers have been targeting carp this week using bread, corn and a variety of prepared dough baits.



2014 Stocking Schedule

2014 Marine Regulations for New Jersey:

N.J. Saltwater Recreational Registry Program:

The Tackle Box, 1134 State Route 36, Hazlet (732-264-7711) Phil says huge bluefish are being caught, with the largest at 25 pounds, but most are in the 20-21-pound range and being caught using stretch plugs or bunker. Stripers are weighing in up to 50 pounds and are being caught along the Shrewsbury Rocks on bunker. An 8-pound weakfish was weighed in as well. Fluke fishing is still picky with a few keepers in the river and Sandy Hook Bay, but the water is still cold for them.


Brielle Tackle, 800 Ashley Ave., Brielle (732-528-5720) Greg says the fluke action is very good in the Manasquan River. Anglers are bucktailing them up to 5 pounds. Lots of bluefish are in the river, inlet, and the ocean near the beaches because there is bunker in the area. Striper action is sporadic, but most productive snagging or trolling bunker spoons around the schools of bunker. Bottom fishing is pretty good with sea bass and ling being caught 15 miles out.


Avalon Hodge Podge Bait & Tackle, 2389 Ocean Drive, Avalon (609-967-3274) Dave and Tammie say the fishing really turned on, weighing in weakfish, drum, stripers, blues and fluke in the past few days. The largest fluke was 24iinches, 4.77 pounds and caught on mackerel strips in Patty's hole. The largest weakfish was a 29-inch, 7.8-pounder caught by Bob P. from Orefield who used bass assassin nuclear chicken on a bucktail. Fish are still in the bay and are getting bigger and better. Bloodworms and plastics are working well.

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