Autumn is here, college and pro football are on the TV and animals are fattening up for the winter. The yard work is piling up and all you can think about is bass. So, what to do? My fellow Hobie Fishing Team member, Charles Parker Breon, and I started brainstorming and planning a short trip. This led us to Hawley, a little town in Pennsylvania that holds one of the best fisheries on the east coast, Lake Wallenpaupack—known as “The Pack” to the locals.

What’s at Lake Wallenpaupack?

Located in the Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenpaupack was created in 1926 as a hydroelectric reservoir for the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company. The lake has long served as a popular attraction for fishing, paddling and other outdoor activities. With 52 miles of shoreline and 13 miles in length, The Pack is the third-largest lake in Pennsylvania. Luckily, the Hobie MirageDrive allows us to cover a lot of water, so it’s on!

Lake Wallenpaupack in the fall
Lake Wallenpaupack is picturesque in the fall. | Photo: Ameer Attia/Wikimedia Commons

We had planned our first day out on the water with a local guide to help set us up for success on the next three days. Well, you can plan the lake, you can plan accommodations, you can plan the meals, but you can’t plan the weather. So, what do you do when you’re faced with 30-degree weather rolling in and whitecaps on the lake? You flip the script and consult with a legend.

Legends Outdoors Knows “The Pack”

Joe Pacholec is one of the premier freshwater fishing guides in the northeast and owner of Legends Outdoors fishing guide service at Lake Wallenpaupack. Joe has been a guiding waters in New York and Pennsylvania for the last 25 years.

Joe picked up his passion for fishing from his father at the age of five. He worked as a truck driver for a short time and moonlighted as guide, but he couldn’t resist the urge to guide and fish tournaments full-time for long. With over 250 tournament wins under his belt we had few doubts about whether we should take his advice.

Day one was a warm, 65-degree day with a cold front coming in. We found ourselves running and gunning for bass. Joe worked to get us on the fish and each of us casted what seemed like a thousand times. We managed to catch some beautiful 2.5 to 3-lb smallmouths that put up one heck of a fight. When we realized the lake and weather weren’t about to let us take out the kayaks, we consulted with Joe.

angler holds up largemouth bass caught in fall at Lake Wallenpaupack
Fall is a great time to hook into a trophy largemouth bass at Lake Wallenpaupack. | Feature photo: Charles Daugherty/Charles Breon

Joe has five guides on his staff and a pontoon boat. Yes, a pontoon boat. A “mothership trip” for giant smallies and largemouths, you say? Okay! Sadly, the plan was nixed by an early fall high pressure front moving in. Leave it to Joe to make things happen. Greg Walker, one of Joe’s guides on staff, set us up in a bass fishing duel.

As it stacked up, the duel involved two bass boats running around The Pack in the “Team Charles (Parker Breon) vs. Team Charles (Daugherty) Battle.” We each fished for the honor of our local shops, with Breon representing Sterling Harbor Bait & Tackle in Wildwood, NJ and Daugherty representing Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown, NJ. And the battle was on!

By the end of day two, Team Charles (Parker Breon) managed to edge out Team Charles (Daugherty) with four smallmouths in the 2.5 to 3.5-lb range. Team Charles (Daugherty) came in with one 2.5-lb smallie, one 2-lb largemouth and one 3.5-lb largemouth.

Driving Down Into New Jersey

The third day greeted us with stronger winds and colder weather, so it was time to make a move. We packed up and headed about an hour south, back into New Jersey in search of lakes that we, as kayak anglers, love. Don’t get me wrong—the 250-hp bass boat is a blast, but we’re kayak anglers for a reason! We were on the hunt for the no-name, kayak-access-only honey holes we search Google Maps to find—and we definitely scored a jackpot.

There is nothing like having a big ole pig smash a crankbait. | Photo: Charles Daugherty/Charles Breon

Now, I can’t give you an address, but I can tell you to check out Warren County, New Jersey if you’re looking for a kayak angler’s dream. The area is home to several smaller lakes with very little fishing pressure and amazing scenery. We unloaded the Hobie Pro Angler 14s and launched off the side of a back country road and immediately—no, not 10–15 minutes later, immediately—hook up! Fall is crankbait time for bass fishing and, in my opinion, there is nothing like having a big ole pig smash a crankbait.

We slayed the bass by throwing Yo-Zuri 3DB Square Bill crankbaits in Fire Tiger and Strike King spinnerbaits in various colors. For the next three hours, we caught bass after bass after bass. Not including a few perch and half a dozen pickerel, we each put 15 largemouth bass in the Pro Anglers and had the type of day that every kayak angler dreams of.

Can We Squeeze Another Lake In?

On day four, we wake up to 35 degree temperatures and rain. It’s Mother Nature’s way of telling us that it’s time to head home. Driving through northern New Jersey backroads this time of year, you get a front row seat to some amazing scenery. The leaves look like—wait a minute, is that a lake?! Surely we can’t pass up checking out a new lake?

The Hobies are still all rigged up and we still have plenty of daylight left. Decision? More like a no-brainer! We quickly unloaded the kayaks, threw on the AFTCO waterproof jacket and pants and we were back on the water. We thought it would be pretty impossible to top day three, but we’d give it a shot. However, this lake wasn’t about to give it up.

kayak angler in a yellow boat celebrates catching a bass during the fall season
Get out there and enjoy the best fall bass fishing of the year. | Photo: Charles Daugherty/Charles Breon

We covered the 53-acre lake and threw everything but the kitchen sink at these fish; they just didn’t want to bite. Still filled with weeds from the summer, we traded in the crankbaits after an hour and flipped the grass bed. Still nothing. We pedaled out into deeper water to let the Lowrance Elite 7 Chirp depth finders do the work for us. They lit up like Christmas trees, but the fish just didn’t want to eat. So, we loaded up and got back on the road for the final leg of the journey home, back to the reality of an impending winter.

We’ll Be Back to Lake Wallenpaupack

Sometimes it’s not about the fish you catch or the ones you lose; it’s about the experience. Driving around and fishing in and around Lake Wallenpaupack for a four-day adventure, we got more out of it than we could have hoped for. Amazing scenery, the new friends we met, a great story to tell and memories that last a lifetime—that’s what it’s all about.

We will definitely be heading back to The Pack and driving around to find more random honey holes to hit in the future. And if you’re in the northeast (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) and want to learn new techniques, catch a bunch of bass and have a blast doing it? Go with Legends Outdoors, you will not be disappointed!

Fall is a great time to hook into a trophy largemouth bass at Lake Wallenpaupack. | Feature photo: Charles Daugherty/Charles Breon

 

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