September is a good month for all types of fishing. The hot days of summer are mostly gone by mid month and the fishing activity picks up noticeably. I have always enjoyed autumn fishing; especially for trout since they extended the season.
It was l972, the year of Tropical Storm Agnes when the Pennsylvania Fish Commission allowed one stream per county to remain open after Labor Day. The daily limit was reduced from eight fish to three. I cannot remember how long the extended season lasted. Today it ends the last day in February.
I lived in Williamsport at that time. The stream chosen for extended season fishing in l972 was Loyalsock Creek; stream that I fished regularly along with Lycoming Creek and some smaller tributaries of both streams.
I was still much into fishing with bait and lures in those days. So, I gathered some shiner minnows from a local waterway and took a trip to Loyalsock Creek. The fish were definitely biting. My problem was that I rigged the shiners to fish them alive with the hook in the middle of body. The trout would bite and then drop the bait. I caught several Smallmouth Bass using this rig, but no trout. My lures did not work at all.
A trip to Blair’s Sporting Goods Store in Williamsport solved the problem. The store was located on Memorial Avenue on block west of Cemetery Street. I walked by that store every day for three years of high school. In those days if you lived in town, you were expected to walk to school. The trip was about one and a half miles each way.
I got the help I needed by buying a special type of treble hook along with a minnow needle. With the needle you put hook at the end of the tail and fitted the dead minnow with the hook.
The problem was solved. My next trip was the following day and I remember fondly catching several rainbow trout. It was the start of many years of extended season trout fishing and many fond memories.
My favorite fishing at this time of year is fishing a local farm pond for bluegills and crappies. Since my beloved fishing buddy Gary Avery died in December of 2014, I do not fish trout streams any longer. For some reason(s) I do not care to.
September and October offer great opportunities for pan fishing. We will get to that subject shortly. I do want to mention that years ago a group of us would go near the bridge in Ulster and camp out on an island linked to shore by a concrete bridge. We fished for bass and walleyes and hunted ducks in the early morning and evening hour just before dusk. Later we prepared some chow and sat around a fire for a long time each evening. The guys and their stories are still with me.
My method of fishing for bluegills and crappies in the fall is identical to fishing for them in the spring months of May and June. I use an ultra light rod and a small spinning reel with a four pound test line. The rig is a split-tailed jig and a foam bobber. I fish into any prevailing breeze. The chop on the water bunches the foam bobber up and down a thus bounces the jig which fish find enticing. In the absence of any breeze you simply keep twitching the rod as you retrieve the jig toward shore. In the fall, any time of day is great for fishing.
I usually start casting at 12 o'clock just maybe 20 feet from shore. I have caught a lot of fish quite close to shore. Longer casts can be tried as needed. If I get a bite or a fish at that starting position, I immediately cast to that same spot again. Often pan fish travel together in small schools. If no hit on that first cast, try ten o’clock and two o’clock until you run out of areas to cast at that position. Then, depending on how the fish are hitting move about 20 yards from your original position and do the same thing all over again.
Many times I have had no luck in one position only to have great success at a position just yards from my original starting point. When I have used up maybe six positions, I will go back to the original starting area. One way I make absolutely sure that I fish slowly is to bring a lawn chair. After putting any catch into a floating basket to keep them alive and fresh, I will go sit down and just enjoy the scenery for awhile. I have been blessed by God to observe turkeys, bear, deer and many species of birds and ducks.
Next time I will give you my ideas to how to clean, keep and cook your catch. It is really nice to open the Freezer and see five containers of frozen fillets in there. If I have had a really good fishing season, many of those frozen containers of fish are given to family and friends.