Bass, Catfish Rule Waters for Summertime Anglers

Washington PA Observer Reporter
10 June 2012

Maybe the old Byrds hit "Turn, Turn, Turn," was referring to fish. Every fish has its season, right?

Springtime might belong to the trout and crappie, but summer belongs to the bass and, for a dedicated few, the catfish.

I know the largest bass will be taken when the leaves turn golden and red as will the Tiger of the Freshwater, the muskie. Now, most anglers reach for a stronger rod and appropriate bait and head to the lakes and ponds.

The light-action rod and tiny reel filled with four-pound line is hardly suitable for dragging a six-pound bass through the cabbage-like growth along the shoreline.

Warm June evenings will find Cross Creek Lake covered with boats occupied by fishermen casting lures toward the shore. Isn't it funny that shorebound anglers cast out as far as they can and those in the boats cast toward land?

Cross Creek Lake is one of the area's best bass waters. But there are others. While the trout waters might be few and far between, most of the area's lakes and streams are natural bass water unless polluted.

The Monongahela River along the Greene-Fayette border offers miles of underfished bass habitate. Look for rocks and other structures in the river and you will probably find smallmouth bass. Find stagnate backwaters, and the largemouth will dominate. The river holds both. John Dino of Canonsburg and Bobby Rogers of Ruff Creek fish the river successfully.

When looking for a hot spot to fish, never overlook the mouths of feeder streams. The mouth of Ten Mile Creek would be a good example of this, and many a summer walleye has been taken from the Ten Mile basin. Incidentally, there is a county park at the creek's mouth that makes fishing easy, even for children.

The Mon River has the advantage of offering excellent catfish population. I remember sitting on a dock near Rices Landing and catching a channel cat on every cast. The silvery cats were only 16 to 18 inches long, but this size channel cat is good eating, and I did have a ball catching them. With its forked tail and spotted silvery sides, the channel catfish is the best looking of the catfish clan.

The real suspense of fishing the river is that you might catch the biggest fish of all, the flathead. Just last week, a friend was fishing the southern part of the Mon and caught two flatheads over 20 pounds. Another angler who was fishing the same area lost his fishing tackle to what probably was a big catfish headed toward the other side of the river. The channel cat might reach weights of 30 pounds or more, but the flathead grows quite a bit larger.

Most fishing for big cats will be done after dark. The big catfish will lay in cover during the daylight hours and go on a feeding binge when the sun goes down. Remember, these are potentially big fish, and it takes a decent size rod and reel with a good hook and heavier line to land one. I have caught catfish on chicken liver, night crawlers, doughballs, minnows and, best of all, medium-sized bluegills. Few things work as well as bottom fishing with a live or even dead bluegill. Just don't go far from the pole.

There are catfish in other county waters. I have seen 15-pound cats taken from Canonsburg Lake. Gene Carter of Gilmore has caught cats from waters of Cross Creek Lake, and don't forget Ten Mile Creek. Many local farm ponds hold catfish, and I heard of a local deputy game warden who caught a 20-pounder while fishing a local farm pond for bluegill.

I would have liked to see the surprise look on his face as he fought the world's record for bluegill and discovered it had whiskers. I have never caught, nor seen caught, a large catfish taken from any of the local water dams. I am sure someone will tell me if they have seen one caught or caught one themselves.

The small farm ponds dot the hills of Washington and Greene counties and offer some great angling. Stop and ask. You might be surprised at the fishing they offer. All one needs is a few spinner baits and plastic worms for the bass and some kind of stink bait for the catfish. After all, it's summer, and that is bass and catfishing time.

George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.