Hotspots For Crappie
Inside the Outdoors, August 12
, 2011

If there ever was a fish that’s plentiful and provides excitement for the summer angler, it’s crappie. No matter where one goes, who one talks to or the best lures to use, it all seems to center around this fish.

And no wonder. Anglers are catching some nice-sized specimens throughout Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties.

One gent to whom I spoke last week said he was doing very well at Indiana’s Keystone Power Dam and Yellow Creek Lake. “My fish were large enough to keep, around nine inches,” he said.

I was fishing Somerset Lake a couple of weeks ago and watched two fellows land over 25 crappies using minnows. Out of that amount they took home 20. One is allowed to keep 50, daily.

By the way, if you have never been to that beautiful lake, don’t look for a sign off the main drag. There isn’t one. Either use a GPS or call the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission and let them guide you in. Their office sits along the side of the lake. Its phone number is 814-445-8974.

Westmoreland Counties has numerous places one can catch crappies. The Loyalhanna Creek throughout the Latrobe area is great for catching large fish of all species, particularly these type. Minnows, small worms and plastics of all shapes and sizes are the ticket.

When Latrobe resident Stan Akins told me he was doing well, I sighed with relief, for I know now the waters must be good to hold healthy populations. He never stays in one place any too long, so that is an indication one may find crappie at various locations.

Loyalhanna Dam has some dandy crappies in it. A neighbor took me for a short stay on his boat last summer. Trolling, I hooked a crappie approximating nine to ten inches on a plug. Looked good enough to keep and eat, but I threw it back.

Talk about Latrobe citizens, Steve Gordon has been filling up his freezer with channel catfish fillets. Fishing the Conamaugh, he has been using baby bluegill for bait. “Works every time,” he said.

I was standing in one of the leading department stores recently, when a gent, standing slightly off to one side in an aisle turned and addressed me by name, surprising the daylights out of me. “Hey, Paul,” he began. “I was fishing the Conamaugh River near Livermore last week and pulled in a 46-inch pike on a baby bluegill.” Seems to be the bait of the summer.

There are a lot of pike in there, I’ll bear witness to that. I caught two, one of which was my first which I ate after I figured out how to clean it. If one wants to try to eat a great eating fish, try pickled pike. Sure is my pick for a tasty dish.

Here’s the “kicker” of last week.

I was standing in a well-known sports store and browsing over fishing supplies, when all of a sudden a stalky individual came racing up to me and started lecturing me. I felt cornered but decided to listen to what he had to say.

“If you’re really interested at catching some really big bass, I’ll show you what you need,” was part of his introductory paragraph. And concerning following sentences, there would be plenty more.

He then raced over two more aisles, briefly looked down at a series of packaged rubber worms, pulling one off a pegboard hook. “This is the one! This is the one I am catching 18 to 20-inch bass at Greenlick with,” There was more. “I think you ought to be using a 3/0 hook, but these red 2/0 ones will work just fine.” I stood there speechless, something I’m not known for, if one can believe that. He capped off the lecture series by telling me to go on the computer and log onto the plastic worm company’s website where it will show exactly how the hooks should be set.

All of sudden, a thought went through my mind. Could this guy have been a salesman decked out in camo duds to make himself look like the common Joe? I was definitely made a believer. By the way, I did find out the angler was from Scottdale. If a man matching his description is seen around that lake, ask him if he recalls talking to a potbellied, wire rim glasses clad old man. Maybe he can teach others what he taught me.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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