PA Hunting On Sunday’s

It’s a credit to the benefit of perseverance when you have a goal and see it through.  The droves of newspapers and naysayers proclaiming it couldn’t be done made it only that much sweeter. The first step was taken recently in Pennsylvania toward total overturning of an antiquated law banning hunting of popular game animals on Sundays. Senate Bill 147 made it through the state legislature to land at the pen of Governor Tom Wolf who signed into law the ability to pursue all game animals on a Sunday for the first time in well over a century.

The law allows three Sundays to be legally hunted starting in 2020. One during the archery season, one during rifle season and one to be determined by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Some may say it’s not enough, but it’s a major step forward towards being able to hunt every Sunday.

In all of the interviews, articles, town halls, camp kitchens and smoke-filled bars the debate would circle around painting the blame equally about why hunting wasn’t allowed on Sundays. The politicians, the hikers, the farm bureau and the game commission all were among the accused. Some suspected a surreptitious plot to keep hunters out of the woods for one reason or another. Farmers feared for safety and solace on a single day to rest. Hikers saw their free pass in danger of disappearing for several months of the year.

Whatever the reason, the law that kept hunters out of the woods became a self-fulfilling prophecy seeing generations leave the sport altogether in recent years. The cost of time was too high for one day afield. Many present-day hunters in the commonwealth simply couldn’t justify a license for such little return.

This stands as a shining example of compromise and how great things can be accomplished with conversation. The past few years saw many hunters raise awareness as to the benefits of expanding hunting opportunities both tangibly and intangibly. Everybody involved wanted something, and when the original introduction of the bill sought a complete overturn of the ban get little political support something rare and unique happened in today’s world, a compromise was proposed.

Instead of pushing for all Sundays Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie asked simply for three. The compromise was enough to sweeten a pot filled with many other benefits for landowners including the strictest trespassing enforcement seen to date. The bill gained support and steam as it moved into and through both the state senate and the house of representatives. Elected official’s office phones and inboxes were flooded by voter support. Responses changed to those voters from “constituency concerns” to “you can count on my vote.”

Pennsylvania hunters should enjoy the victory and be proud of what they’ve achieved. A herculean effort is being rewarded for every hunter in the commonwealth no matter where we hunt, who we hunt with, or how expensive your camo and equipment are because we’re all pursuing the same game. Whether you know it or not we’ve also been rewarded with an equal responsibility. The eyes of the opposition have been fixed on three Sundays in 2020 craving for us to make a mistake.

It’s possible that you’ll be confronted out there. Maybe even baited into breaking the law. It’s important to stay the responsible, calm and ethical steward of the land and animals that you’ve been, without a doubt now more than ever. This is a gift that we’ve never had before, make sure to cherish it.

Steelhead fishing in Erie, Pennsylvania

Steelhead Fishing Tips, Tricks, Gear, and Locations in Pennsylvania

Steelhead fishing in Erie, Pennsylvania is a destination for many avid anglers from across the state. With many miles of Lake Erie tributaries to fish it is not uncommon to run into other fisherman chasing the “chrome”—a popular name for the freshly spawning steelhead.

Each year, spring and fall, the steelhead begin their spawning journey. These fish remember the exact tributary that they were stocked in as smolt. They swim to the mouth of the tributary and when the conditions are just right they begin swimming upstream. Most of the fish only travel under the cover of darkness. If a fisherman fished until last light, or a little past, they can often observe fish fighting their way up the current as they continue their journey. 

Steelhead Fishing Gear

When targeting steelhead it is important to have the right gear as these fish are very power and can cover water rather quickly. We will start from the bottom up. It is imperative to have a good set of wading boots and waders. Wading boots with metal studs work well on the shale bottom creeks that make up most of the fishable water.   

Weather can change in a heartbeat with lake effect precipitation as the biggest culprit. A wading stick can come in very handy when crossing swift current or rising water. People often use either a fold-up wading stick or one that they have a tethered to their wading belt. The wading stick then rests in the water but is always attached to the fisherman for easy access. 

Warm clothes are a life saver. Many mornings, especially in late fall and early winter are bitterly cold. The proper cold weather gear will greatly increase the fisherman’s ability to endure the possible cold, wind, rain, snow, ice, etc. Fingerless fleece gloves make tying knots, feeling the fly line or fishing line easier. The finger tips will get cold, especially after handling a fish. Having a set of hand warmers in each pocket will warm them right up. 

A set of polarized glasses can make a huge difference especially when sight fishing. Which most of the time, sight fishing is an effective way to locate a group of fish, hungry fish or both. 

As for the rod and reel, there are a few ways to fish for these steelhead. The good majority of anglers use a fly rod. While a decent amount also use a spinning rod with either egg sacks, spinners or minnows as bait, fly fisherman use beefier rods to effectively fight these large fish. A solid starting point for fly fishing is to use a 10 foot 7 weight rod with a 7/8 reel. Obviously, these specs may vary depending on each angler’s desires.  

Choosing a fly that will trigger a reaction can sometimes be difficult. Egg patterns are a great place to start. Since these fish are spawning there are eggs in the water and a large majority of the fish’s diet are eggs. Sometimes the fish do not like the egg patterns due to being educated by other fisherman. In which case, small nymphs are a great go to. Size 14-16 dark colored nymphs can do the trick.  

Low, clear water can make fishing difficult. The fish become skittish and tough to hook. Using a small size tippet like 5x or 6x can help reduce the likelihood of fish seeing the line. Using lighter tippet also results in having to really play the fish when hooked.  

Strike indicators, like Thingamabobber’s, help lift the anglers fly to the depth of suspended fish. When the water is clear, steelhead may get spooked by the strike indicator. A stimulator patter can be tied on above the lower flies to act as an indicator. This can greatly reduce the risk of spooking a fish. 

Steelhead can be stubborn. Do not get discouraged if the fish does not take the fly right away. It may take quite a while to get a strike. If the fish is not interested, tie on a different pattern and try again. Continue to do so until the fish eats it or spooks.

Locations To Fish Fall Steelhead

There are many great tributaries to fish in Erie. Elk Creek, Crooked Creek, Walnut Creek, 16 and 20 Mile Creek are great streams. Use these tips, get yourself some gear, and get out there and chase some chrome!