On November 12 in NW PA, winter arrived way too early with unexpected ferocity. With a blanket of snow on the ground and below freezing temps, lakes were skimming with ice and the rivers/creeks were icy slush. When it climbed into the 40 on Sunday Nov 23, Dale Black and I decided to hit the Allegheny for what we thought might be our lasting smallmouth bass outing of the year. We arrived to view large sheets of ice floating down river and water temperature at 32 degrees. Undaunted we fished hard, crawling small critter jigs, tubes and hair jigs over shallow flats, down slopes and into deep winter holes to no avail. We did witness a walleye angler fishing live bait catch a very large fish. After 3.5 hours, we were going to call it, but Dale had one more winter hole to hit which required an upriver ride through a wild rapid. I had just tied on a chartreuse Jimmy D River Bug hair jig after loosing my six jig of the day. On my second cast, I felt mushy resistance and set the hook on the only bite I had all day. That single smallmouth was a great boost to our spirits. Was this going to be my last PA bass of 2015? Remains to be seen. Moderation in the temperature should keep the river open through next week.
Last Friday was spent on the road to Rend Lake, Illinois for a media Crappie Camp organized by crappie tournament angler and Rend Lake guide Kyle Schoenherr. Gamma Line owner Dale Black and I arrived at Rend Lake Resort just as the sun was setting, giving us just enough time to catch a few crappies from the dock - a very productive fall pattern if you do not have a boat. In the morning morning, there were anglers on the docks right at first light! Over the next two days my time was spent touring the lake with professional crappie anglers, sampling the fishing and shooting a lot of photos. As a first-time visitor to the lake, I found the various types of water and fishing styles of the anglers most interesting. In addition to fishing with Kyle, I had the opportunity to fish with pros Dan Dannenmuller, Kevin Jones and Team Bunting (Travis & Charlie). In addition to several other writers with whom I've worked with in the past, I finally had the chance to meet longtime writer Don Gasaway in person as well as being introduced to Josh Gowan. Rend Lake Resort caters to anglers, offering all the amenities including launching, docking, lodging choices and restaurant. If you are looking for a some place new for your next crappie fishing vacation, check out Rend Lake and Kyle Schoenherr at email@example.com.
Darl is a veteran outdoor communicator with a passion for fishing. Darl and his wife Marilyn Wolfe Black form Blackwolfe Communications L.L.C., which includes Fishing with Darl Black Guide Service. Follow Darl's freshwater fishing exploits on this blog, and check out additional fishing content plus the NW PA Fishing Report online at www.blackwolfecommunications.com.