What’s At Lake Wallenpaupack?
It’s Autumn. College and Pro Football are on TV. Animals are getting ready and fattening up for the winter. The leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground. The yard work is pilling up and all you can think about is bass! If you live on the East Coast, you already know what’s coming: the winter, which means trading in the kayak for a snow shovel.
Sooooooo what to do, what to do? Plan a last minute trip to chase big Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass? OH YEAH! My fellow Hobie Fishing Team Member, Charles Parker Breon, and I started brainstorming and planning a short trip.
This led us to a little town in Pennsylvania that holds one of the best fisheries on the East Coast, Lake Wallenpaupack, aka The Pack to the locals in Hawley, PA.
With 52 miles of shoreline and 13 miles in length, it’s the third largest lake in Pennsylvania; the Hobie Mirage Drive allows us to cover a lot of water very quickly so, it’s on! We had planned day one out on the water with a local guide to get the lay of the land and set us up for success for the next three days. NOW, 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 white caps on the lake? You flip the script and consult with a Legend.
Joe Pacholec is one of the premier freshwater fishing guides in the Northeast and owner of Legends Outdoors. Joe has been a guiding waters in NY and PA for the last 25 years. Joe picked up his passion for fishing from his father at 5. He worked as a truck driver for a short time and moonlighted as guide but he wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to guide and fish tournaments full time for long. With over 250 Tournament wins under his belt. Not 25…. Not 50……. BUT 250! Not too shabby… With all this info it left us wondering, “Should we take his advice?” ABSOLUTELY! Joe gets us on the water on day one and the lesson begins.
It is a warm 65 degree day with a cold front coming in. We find ourselves running and gunning for bass. With Joe working to get us on the fish and each of us casting, oh I don’t know, 1,000 times, we manage to catch some beautiful 2.5lb – 3lb 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 consult with the Legend.
Joe has 5 guides on his staff and a pontoon boat. Yes, a pontoon boat. “Mothership trip” for giant smallies and largemouths, OK! Now, sadly an early fall high pressure is moving in with a 25 degree drop in temperature and 15-20mph winds wouldn’t allow us to do so, but leave it to Joe to make things happen. Cue in Greg Walker, one of Joe’s guides on staff, and we have a duel.
Two bass boats running around The Pack with the Charles vs Charles [aka C1 (CPB) vs. C2 (CD)] battle of the Sportsman’s Outpost/Sterling Harbor Bait & Tackle/Hobie Team members. The battle was on! CPB manages to edge out CD with (4) smallmouths in the 2.5lb – 3.5lb range and CD comes in with (1) 2.5lb smallie, (1) 2lb largemouth, and (1) 3.5lb largemouth. With day two in the books, stronger winds and colder weather coming, it was time to make a move. (Before I go on, if you are in the Northeast (NY/NJ/PA) 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!)
With more ugly weather in PA, we decide to make a move.
We pack up and head about an hour south back into NJ in search of lakes that we, as kayak anglers, love. Don’t get me wrong the 250hp bass boat is a blast but we’re kayak anglers for a reason! We were on the hunt for the no name, access via kayak only, honey holes we search Google Maps to find and we definitely found one!
Now, I can’t give you an address, but I can tell you if you are looking for a kayak anglers dream, check out Warren County, NJ. With several smaller lakes with very little fishing pressure and amazing scenery, IT’S ON! We unload the Hobie Pro Angler 14’s and launch off the side of 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!
Throwing Yo-Zuri 3DB Square Bill Fire Tiger Crankbaits and Strike King Spinnerbaits in various colors, we slayed them. 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!
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?! OK, so how can we pass up checking out a new lake?
The Hobies are still all rigged up and we still have plenty of day light left. Decision? More like a no-brainer! After a quick unloading of the kayaks, throw on the AFTCO waterproof jacket and pants and we’re back on the water. We thought it would be pretty impossible to top day three, but we give it a shot. However, this lake wasn’t about to give it up.
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 peddled out into deeper water to let the Lowrance Elite 5 Chirp depth finders do the work for us. They lit up like Christmas trees, but they just didn’t want to eat. So, we load up and get back on the road for the final leg home and back to the reality of the impending winter.
Fishing is exactly that, fishing.
Sometimes it’s not about the fish you catch or the one you lose; it’s about the experience. Driving around and fishing different bodies of water for a weekend adventure, we got more than we could have hoped for. Amazing scenery, the new friends we met, a great story to tell, and memories that last a lifetime is what it’s all about. Until we plan, or don’t plan, our next adventure on the water, we will definitely be heading back to The Pack and driving around to find more random honey holes to hit in the future!
Charles Daugherty is 35 and spends most of his time in freshwater fishing for largemouth bass. Charles has fished from Maine to Key West and in between. He is a member of the Hobie Fishing Team (representing Sportsman’s Outpost in Williamstown, NJ) and a Coach/Event Coordinator for Heroes on the Water NJ Chapter.
Charles Breon is 37 and grew up just blocks from striped bass heaven, Poverty Beach in Cape May, NJ. He spent his youth chasing both salt and fresh water fish. His first love, surf fishing has taken a backseat to kayak fishing since getting his first kayak almost 10 years ago. A member of the Hobie Fishing Team (representing Sterling Harbor Bait & Tackle in Wildwood, NJ) since 2012.