I was sitting at my computer one morning last week, engrossed in a project, when I heard the distinctive "thud" of the mailman slipping some heavy item through the mail slot on my front door.
Since I wasn't expecting a package, I yielded to my curiosity a short time later and went downstairs to see just what had arrived. There among the daily assortment of bills and junk mail lay something I always look forward to this time of year - the new Bass Pro Shops fishing tackle catalog.
I'm on just about every outdoors mailing list there is, so I probably receive tackle catalogs from a dozen or more suppliers each year, but for me, the Bass Pro master catalog weighs in as the biggest and best of the bunch.
This huge wish book not only helps me spend many winter evenings pouring over any number of new items to add to my tackle collection but also serves as a constant reference throughout the season as well. So after I finished my work that evening, I settled onto the couch with a glass of wine and that tackle catalog.
I think I was still in my teens when someone first told me, "If you find a piece of gear you really like, be sure to buy two of them, because you can almost bet they will quit making it before you need another one." That advice has proved true many times in the decades since, even with smaller items like fishing lures. So as much as I enjoy seeing what's new for the coming year, I always like to make sure some of my favorites haven't been discontinued.
Soft-plastic stickbaits have been one of my most productive lures for about 10 years now, especially in the 3-inch size. Almost every manufacturer of soft-plastic baits produces a stickbait in the larger 4- to 5-inch sizes, but only the Yamamoto Senko, the Yum Dinger and the Bass Pro Shops Stik-O were available in 3-inch.
Since Yum dropped their 3-inch Dinger a couple of years ago, I have lived in mortal fear that Bass Pro would stop making my beloved 3-inch Stik-O. I was delighted to see that not only was my old favorite alive and well, they had also added a few new colors, including black/red flake, which I know will be a killer for river smallmouths.
Almost as bad as favorite equipment being discontinued is having it refashioned and in the process losing some of its usefulness. That also happened to me a couple of years ago when Bass Pro Shops changed the handle design on its Bionic Blade series of spinning rods. I have owned a dozen or more Bionic Blades in various lengths and actions, but the new handle style really didn't appeal to me.
I was pleasantly surprised to notice the handle on them had been changed again this year to a style nearly as good as it had been.
Of course, browsing tackle catalogs will only fill so much time while waiting for warmer fishing weather to return. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently launched its new Pennsylvania's Best Fishing Waters program. The focus of this effort is to provide information to anglers regarding some of the more productive waterways throughout the state for about a dozen species of popular game fish.
John Arway, PFBC Executive Director, said, "Commission staff strive to provide the very best for Pennsylvania's anglers. Through recognizing which waters provide the highest catch rates, combined with widely available public access, we know anglers and boaters are receiving the best recommendations that'll help them ensure more successful trips and memorable experiences."
To make this information as accessible as possible, the PFBC has put a list of the recommended fishing spots online at www.PaBestFishing.com. The site is simple and straightforward, allowing anglers to find a list of waters by species with just a click or two.
Some of the waters from our area that made the list include Spring Creek, Penns Creek and Piney Creek in the wild trout category; Canoe Creek Lake for stocked trout water; Juniata River for smallmouth bass; and Raystown Lake for several species. If you are looking to expand your horizons for your favorite species of fish, checking out this list might be helpful for planning a trip or two this season.