Quarantine Activities for the Outdoorsman

Are you bored yet? If you’re anything like us – you may be going a bit stir crazy at this point. Usually after finishing our fall hunting season, staying inside to catch up on a few books or movies as we head into spring trout season and spring turkey season was no problem. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite the case for us this year.

 

Fortunately for us, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission allowed the spring trout and turkey season to continue with proper social distancing protocol.

 

However, with the coronavirus quarantine seemingly on its way out and restrictions soon being lifted, you may be running out of things to do inside.

 

Here are some ideas of how you can weather the last days and weeks of the mandated stay at home order.

 

Welcome to the ultimate spring cleaning season! You may have set aside some time these past couple weeks to clean out and organize your closets, gun cabinets, and tackle boxes. If you feel like you’ve reorganized those gear boxes one too many times, it may be time to look at what you don’t need.

 

Donating old hunting clothes can be a great way to create space all while helping a very good cause. Most people don’t know that the PA Game Commission actually welcomes donations of usable hunting and outdoor clothing as a part of helping the national R3 initiative (Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation of hunters).

 

Most individuals who go to the PAGC looking to get into hunting and take the hunter safety course have little to no equipment. If there is equipment or clothing to borrow, most of it must be returned at the end of the day.

 

A good number of us could probably find something we don’t use anymore and can get in contact with the PAGC office to donate it. Plus, it gives you a chance to justify getting some new camo you’ve been looking at for a while now.

 

You now also have the chance to teach kids outdoor lessons after the virtual learning is done for the day. Remember when you said “if I only had the time?” Well, now you do! Outdoor activities,  like archery and fishing, are perfect for kids to occupy their time instead of playing video games for 10+ hours a day.

 

Even though Kinsey’s Outdoors is not currently letting customers inside our retail store, you can still order archery or fishing gear on the Kinsey’s Outdoors website. You can either have the items shipped to your house, or you can pick it up curbside.

 

Now that you’ve got all the gear you need, you can hit the great outdoors to get some much needed fresh air and hunting and fishing action. Even if you have kids who may be too young to hunt or fish – it’s never too soon to teach them the wonderful benefits of spending time in the woods, or on the water.

 

Have you always wanted to learn how to trap? Get better at turkey calling? Learn to read a map? Tie Flies? Skills like these can now be learned from almost anywhere with access to information thanks to the advent of Google and YouTube. Online video tutorials can provide great opportunities to learn those outdoor activities and skills you’ve always wanted to learn.

 

Now’s also a great time to clean out trail camera cards or get new ones. Are you tired of the thousands of pictures you have of squirrels taking up memory on your trail cam memory cards? Now’s a great time to delete the abundance of trail cam photos and make sure your cameras are working properly. If they aren’t, now’s a great time to look at upgrading your trail camera for this upcoming scouting and hunting season.

 

Once all that is done, you could begin to watch outdoor-themed movies. When the day is winding down and dinner is done, you and your family can enjoy a movie night. This is a great way for everyone to spend time together while also providing a much-needed distraction from the constant news headlines.

 

As a lover of the outdoors, look at watching a few titles that can get the next generation excited about a life outside. Movies like White Fang or maybe some of your favorite hunting DVD’s you have laying around.

 

You could also grab your camping equipment and gear and do a backyard staycation and camp with your family at home. It’s also a great time to get a new cooler and test it out at home before you hit the water or the woods this year.

 

Another great activity is to learn to make a new recipe with wild game, or a side dish for your favorite wild game dinners. Almost every internet search will lead you to a variety of ‘wild game recipes’ and techniques that will teach you to be a better cook. Cooking with the family is a great way to spend time together while also teaching a lifelong skill.

 

After you’ve played all the board games in your house, you’ve played referee to yet another fight over whose turn it is with the video game, or you need a break from that puzzle that feels more like a prison sentence than a distraction – we hope this list helps. Although we don’t know how long this “new normal” will last, we hope this article provided you with some ideas to keep you and your family spending quality time together while also keeping your sanity.  Did we forget anything fun and exciting that you’ve been doing lately? Let us know what you and your family have been doing to help pass the time during quarantine.

Surprise Trout Opener

To say that the spring of 2020 wasn’t normal would be an understatement. We were coming out of a fairly mild winter, and seeing unseasonably warm weather threw many of us who enjoy the outdoors out of our routines. This season’s shed hunting felt like trying to get last-minute shopping done before the big holiday.

We were also still scrambling to scout for turkeys and make plans for the upcoming opening day of trout season. All those plans came to a screeching halt when Governor Tom Wolf informed Pennsylvania residents his plan for shutting down the state and asking citizens to stay home.

In preparation for the arrival of coronavirus cases, mandated business closures and home quarantine orders left those of us who hunt and fish in a very strange place. We didn’t know what to do.  We were all trying to navigate these uncharted waters together. When could we get outdoors to fish and would these restrictions spill into the upcoming spring turkey season?

Never before had there been such uncertainty heading into the spring trout and upcoming spring hunting seasons. Our happy place to get away from the madness of 24-hour non-stop news coverage, analysis, and expert opinions was no longer an option for refuge. More importantly, we weren’t supposed to be near the people we enjoy spending time with outdoors.

Amidst school closures, layoffs, and what was supposed to be a delayed opening day of the storied trout season – we got a welcomed surprise. On Tuesday morning, April 7, 2020 at 8:00 am, The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commission opened the fishing season for trout statewide.

Social media posts and text messages lit up cell phones around the state with apprehension and excitement. Many anglers were unsure if it was a gift or a prank. After a quick search – many would soon realize it wasn’t a prank and that it was indeed true. Officials felt with proper social distancing measures in place, anglers could hit the water for trout that have had ample time to acclimate and separate.

At lunch, I checked my fishing pack, found a few rooster tails and strung up my St. Croix Trout Series rod for its first trip I thought it wouldn’t see for a few more weeks. I was uncertain of where I wanted to go, but that was settled by PA Fish and Boat’s website leading me to a stocked farm stream a few miles from where I live. I let my wife know where I was heading and I tossed everything in the back of the truck and headed down the road.

The main question on my mind of whether anyone would be out or not was quickly answered by the several cars parked by the local bridge and those anglers fishing nearby. There were parents and grandparents enjoying a day on the stream and that wasn’t something I wanted to interrupt so I decided to take a longer, more out of the way, walk through a pasture would put me at a nice bend in the stream.

Before making one single cast, a male Canada Goose would persuade me to find another place to fish. Both he and his mate had a nest streamside and in the interest of future waterfowler’s success, I headed further downstream.

As I moved on, another angler was on the opposite bank reeling one in. At a minimum of six feet apart, I congratulated him. He thanked me and said with that one, and four more on the stringer, he was heading home for the day.

“Good fishing here if you want to try it.”

Had I not seen him just catch a trout – I really wouldn’t have believed him. There wasn’t much to the stream, no pools, eddies, or water clear enough to see any fish even with polarized glasses. However, I’ve been wrong before.

Casting and watching the rooster tail maneuver under the surface was interrupted abruptly by a flash of silver and that signature underwater argument from a fish that says, “this lure is now mine – sorry about your luck.”

Surprise turned to excitement, then concern, and after getting the treble hook out of its mouth on the bank – excitement again.

Within a few minutes, I had caught a pair. Even though there’s a daily limit of five, my wife and I only needed two for dinner that night. Besides, the grandfather downstream with his three grandkids who were losing worms and getting snagged in trees would probably appreciate any additional chances of success they could get. And with that, I called it a day.

As I drove back through the farmland, windows down enjoying unusually gorgeous early April weather, I had a feeling of appreciation and gratitude wash over me. I had caught two fish from the generosity of a stranger on the stream. Some may even call that the perfect day.

It was the kind of day where you weren’t worried about who had symptoms and who didn’t. You weren’t worried about if you had enough hand sanitizer or toilet paper at home. This year’s opening day was a nice reminder of normality and that there’s still calmness and comfort fishing your local fishing spot during these uncertain and chaotic times.

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Smallmouth Bass Kayak Fishing on the Susquehanna River

Executing a Successful Smallmouth Bass Kayak Fishing Trip on the Susquehanna River

The Susquehanna River consistently comes in at one of the top fishing hotspots in Pennsylvania. It stretches from north to south across the state and offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the northeast. Smallmouth bass kayak fishing on the river opens up many more opportunities. Fishing from a kayak allows you to access parts of the river no one else can.  

In order to get on a great smallmouth bite from a kayak, you need the right equipment. First is the kayak. Kinsey’s Outdoors has all the kayaking equipment you need and even a kayak rental program if you want to try smallmouth bass kayak fishing for the first time. Next, you need to stock up on fishing lures for bass. Some great choices are small soft-plastic swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and shallow diving crankbaits and stickbaits. Lastly, make sure you have quality fishing rod, plenty of supplies for the float, and a good float plan. The great thing about a local outdoor supplier like Kinsey’s Outdoors is not only do they have all the equipment you need, but they know exactly what the best bass lures are to make for a successful smallmouth bass kayak fishing trip. 

Dealing with High Water during Trout Season

Trout Fishing in High Water, Murky Water, and Difficult Conditions

The weather during this spring of 2019 has been relentless. Torrential downpours have been common which is bad news for trout fisherman. Big and popular trout streams have been high and muddy all too much this spring. It seems like as soon as they finally get back down to a fishable level, more rain comes and cranks them right back up again. What is the best option when your favorite creek is blown out and looks like chocolate milk? Find another option. The answer is really that simple. At least it sounds simple, but can sometimes be a challenge to execute. Here are some tips to use for finding places to trout fish when it seems like the high water will never go away.

Check the smaller streams

In many areas of Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have lots of options when it comes to trout streams. We have plenty of big and wide streams that are the first ones to be blown out with heavy rain. We have medium-sized streams ranging from ten to twenty feet in width. And then we have the small native trout streams. Many trout fisherman do not know about how many opportunities we have on small, Class A trout streams. The PA Fish and Boat Commission website can be used to find these streams. Many times streams this small will be in decent shape within hours after a heavy rain. During a spring and early summer like the one we’re having, these small streams can be a great way to get on trout when all other creeks are unfishable. Another bonus of fishing them soon after rain is the fact that the water will usually be slightly off-color. Trying to go undetected from these spooky native trout when the water is crystal clear can be a big challenge. Water that is slightly off-color, but not muddy, is the best situation for these small streams.  

Use water gauges and online stream reports 

A very useful tool to use when trying to find out water levels of streams is the US Army Corps of Engineers. They have several water gauges set up on streams used to measure the water level. Search the stream conditions for the creek you are looking for and you will find the USGS water gauge for that creek if there is one on it. This is an extremely useful tool for finding the live conditions of a stream. It will often display the gauge height in feet, the water discharge in cubic feet per second, the recent precipitation, and water temperature.  

Use experience to find the “water-resistant streams” 

When a big rain comes through and blows out creeks, there are those that seem like they take forever to go back down in water level. On the other hand, there are some that will go back down relatively quickly, and some that will be less likely to get blown out in the first place. This is where previous knowledge comes in to play. The more you have trout fished in the past the better. With experience comes a good knowledge of these creeks that seems to drop back down in water level the quickest or the ones that seem to be less likely to be high in the first place. Fisherman looking to fish for stocked fish on something bigger than small native streams should look for medium-sized streams that have a minimal amount of feeder streams dumping extra water in.  

Expand your search 

When creeks nearby are high and muddy fishermen need to be willing to expand their search to farther distances to find fishable water. This spring some storms and rain showers have been extremely spotty. It might have down-poured at your local stream five minutes away but been completely dry at another spot twenty minutes down the road. That situation has been quite common in recent weeks. Just because your local stream is blown out doesn’t mean everything within driving distance is. 

Flies and bait to use in high and off-color water:

Worden Original Rooster 1 3/4″ 1/24 oz Tail Spinner with Treble Hook

Berkley PowerBait Trout Bait

Jackson Nymph Fly Gold Ribbed Hares Ear Beadhead

summer trout

Tactics and Tips for Catching Summer Trout

Summer Trout Fishing Tips, Tactics, and Gear 

Once June comes to an end, many trout fishermen put away the rods until next spring unfortunately. Warmer temperatures start to set in and can make fishing a little tougher. For fisherman that want to keep after it, great days of fishing can still be had. Use some of these tips and tactics this summer to catch more trout.

Find the feeder streams 

When water starts to warm up a little bit, trout are going to look for the coldest water they can get. Feeder steams will be dumping cold water in and trout will congregate at them. Finding a big feeder stream will usually put you in front of a lot of trout in July and August. Fisherman should keep in mind that trout will become more stressed in warmer water. Always handle fish gently and be sure to get trout that are caught back into the water as soon as possible if practicing catch and release.  

Cover the water thoroughly 

This is sometimes a concept that might be overlooked by many. When water temperatures start to rise, trout are not going to use any unnecessary energy to chase after food that is far away. They will wait where they are for food to come to them. This is why it is crucial to cover the water you are fishing very thoroughly. Whether fly fishing, spin fishing with some bait, or throwing a lure, be sure to cover that water. When attacking a stretch of water, run, or pool, start at the bottom and the side closest to you. Make casts at this same level as you just out the creek farther. When your casts reach the other side of the creek, make your next set of casts up a little farther and just repeat across the creek again. Keep going until you have reached the top of the pool you are trying to cover and then move to your next stretch. Using this tacticyou will try to ensure that you are putting your bait, fly, or lure directly in front of fish. Many fly fishermen have the mentality that they want to drift their fly right into a trout’s mouth without them even moving. Having that mentality will force you to cover the water as thoroughly as possible.  

Fish Deep 

This one is simple, fish the deepest water you can find. Deep water is going to be much colder in temperature at the bottom. Trout are going to find this deep water and stay towards the bottom. This is where previous knowledge and time spent fishing comes in handy. If you were out during the spring a lot, return to places where you noticed big deep pools. Chances are that trout will be congregating in those areas.  

Focus on fishing early and late 

It’s no secret that the best times of the day to catch trout during the summer will be early in the morning and at the end of the evening. These will be the coolest parts of the day with the least amount of sun, and when trout will be most likely to feed. As a bonus, it’s much more pleasant for us to be out there during those times of the day anyways. Fly fisherman can still find good surface feeding action during the summer months in the evenings and lure fisherman can find more aggressive fish during these hours.  

Avoid fishing pressure 

Trout have now been fished for several months by fishermen. They will become more educated, wary, and overall can be tough to catch. This is especially true in easy access areas that get fished the heaviest. Think outside the box and try to hit some spots that are tougher to access, or creeks that weren’t so popular among fisherman in the spring. Finding trout that are quite as educated will increase your odds of success drastically.  

Huk KC Scott Freedom Fish T-Shirt

Allen Gunnison Switch Olive Fishing Pack

Best Weather Conditions for Trout Fishing

Weather Conditions and Trout Fishing 101

Before your next trout fishing outing, be sure to take a look at the weather conditions and see what’s expected. Many fishermen will get excited when they see what looks like pleasant weather for being outside. Fairly warm temperatures, a little bit of sunshine, no rain, and the list could go on. If you want to catch more trout let’s learn a little bit more about how the weather conditions will affect trout, how they feed, and how that translates to your success.

Let’s get right to it. Those bright sunny days are not the good ones for trout fishing, at least most of the time. Cloudy with light rain is the absolute best weather conditions you can ask for when heading to the stream. When the weather looks as if you might get wet, that’s not a bad thing. The best days I have trout fishing every spring are on days just like this. I can remember back to a handful of days in recent years where myself and group have just absolutely slammed trout with rain coming down and had the creek to ourselves. Too much heavy rain could end up in creeks being blown out in the preceding days, but if the water is in good shape the day you want to fish and you have cloud cover with some light rain, you could be in for a treat.  

You might be thinking to yourself cloudy and rainy days are very common in the spring. The answer might be yes, but the amount of days that are fishable in these conditions might be few and far between depending on the year. Yes, we have had tons of rain this spring, but that has given us blown out creeks all too often. That high and muddy water has taken away so many of our days to fish just to begin with. Of the days where the water has been in good shape, if we have clouds and rain it has usually meanthunderstorms along with them. Obviously, out fishing on the stream is no place to be in a thunderstorm. f you think about how many days the water has been in good shape, with cloudy and rainy weather but with no thunderstorms, it might not be quite as many days as you had anticipated.  

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Let’s take a look at why these different weather conditions can affect the trout fishing so drastically. The reasons that a bright and sunny day are tough are fairly obvious. In sunny conditions trout can see us much easier as well as our fishing line, tippet, leader, or fly line. The sun also exposes them to predators from above. All those things considered, trout are usually much more spooky and less likely to feed as heavily on days like this. On the other hand, cloudy days make fish feel safer. They aren’t as worried about other predators and they are much more likely to feed well. They won’t be able to see your line, tippet, or leader nearly as easily either, making them much easier to fool. Another interesting thing to think about is that many fishermen believe fish can detect a drop in barometric pressure which is usually associated with bad weather on the way. This makes trout want to feed heavily now before the creek gets blown out after a few days of raining in a row. All these things combined can make for spectacular days of trout fishing in these weather conditions.  

When fishing on the sunny days, the best times to catch trout are going to be the first hours of the morning and the last hours of the evening. During ideal cloudy and rainy days, I have many times experienced all day feeding from trout. There have been days I can remember, when fly fishing, that trout have fed literally all day long on the surface eating mayflies. These concepts are usually true, but not there can always be outliers. It doesn’t mean you can’t have great days catching fish all day long in the sun, and it doesn’t mean you’ll always have a great day when its cloudy and raining. I have experienced both scenarios. But in general, this is the way it seems to go for the majority of the time. If creeks are in good shape, keep an eye on the weather forecast to look for these conditions. When the opportunity comes, grab a raincoat, your fishing rod, and get out there for some fun! 

Huk Packable Rain Jacket

Frogg Toggs Women’s UltraLite Rain Suit

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Native Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania | Planning and Strategies to be Successful

Ways to be Successful Native Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania

Native trout fishing in Pennsylvania offers many additional opportunities for those anglers looking for a challenge over traditional, crowded stocked trout streams. To start, you have to find which waters have native trout in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers an interactive web application and listing of streams that have native brook trout and other wild naturally reproducing trout populations. It’s a great resource to use as you plan which streams are likely worth fishing for native trout 

Once you have a stream or two picked out to fish, the strategy comes into play. The most important aspect of native trout fishing is to stay concealed. Unlike stocked trout, native brook trout will run and hide at any sign of threat. Work upstream and fish natural current breaks like log jams and debris fields. A tandem fly rig works well using a large natural fly as the indicator and any bright colored fly as the second fly. Streams that offer native trout fishing are abundant in Pennsylvania. Do some research and find a few worth fishing this season.

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Spring Trout Fishing Series Episode 6 |Fly Fishing the Yellow Breeches Creek

Spring Fly Fishing Action for Trout on the Yellow Breeches Creek

The guygrab their fly fishing gear and head to the Yellow Breeches Creek near Boiling Springs in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania for some spring trout fishingThey are fly fishing the Catch and Release special regulation section of the creek for both stocked and wild trout.  

Fishing both pools and runs, their setup includes nymphing a weighted tandem fly rig with a strike indicator as well as drifting streamer flies. A larger fly fishing rod like the 10-foot Orvis fly fishing rod and reel combo used allows for better presentations of both of these types of fly fishing tactics. The takeaway here is to remain flexible on the water. After a difficult bite, the guys were able to adapt their fly fishing strategy and ultimately have a successful day spring trout fishing on the Yellow Breeches Creek. 

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Spring Trout Fishing Series Episode 5 | Trout Fishing Hammer and Little Cocalico Creeks

Trout Fishing Mid-season Stockings in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Trout fishing is still good many weeks after opening day in Pennsylvania. Many streams and lakes throughout the Commonwealth received several more trout stockings well into May. These extra spring trout fishing opportunities can prove to be some of the best of the year. 

In this episode, Grant explores Hammer and the Little Cocalico Creeks in southeastern Pennsylvania. He utilizes the trout stocking schedule to fish these creeks on days after they have recently been stocked. One of the best trout fishing tips when fishing mid-season after recent stocking is to fish areas away from obvious stocking spots like parking lots and bridges. Simply getting a few hundred yards away from these areas will greatly improve your trout fishing success on stocked streams. Key trout fishing gear included live bait, Berkley® Gulp trout bait and Rooster Tail® spinners fished on an Ugly Stik GX2 spinning combo. Explore creeks like Hammer and the Little Cocalico in southeastern Pennsylvania and take advantage of additional trout fishing opportunities after opening day.  

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Spring Trout Fishing Series Episode 4 | Kayak Trout Fishing Pennsylvania’s Stoever’s Dam

Kayak Trout Fishing a Small Public Lake in Southeastern Pennsylvania

In this episode, Grant takes to the water at Stoever’s Dam in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania from some spring trout fishingThis 23-acre lake inside Stoever’s Dam Park is just north of the city of Lebanon. It is stocked with trout throughout the year and offers both winter and spring trout fishing opportunities. 

Kayak trout fishing is one option when trout fishing Stoever’s Dam. The small lake gets a lot of fishing pressure and getting away from shore using a kayak has many advantages. If you are new to trout fishing using a kayakKinsey’s Outdoors kayak rental program is a great option to get started. Their pro shop in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania is only about 40 mins away from Stoever’s Dam and provides everything you need for a kayak trout fishing trip to the lake. They also have a great selection of kayak fishing accessories. Stop into Kinsey’s Outdoors before your next kayak trout fishing adventure to rent one or load up on tackle or accessories before hitting the water.