The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 2, 2012

Ken Maurer's Outdoors column: Plenty of water, for now

By Ken Maurer
Daily Item

ALLENWOOD — Back in April, we were wondering just how low the river and the trout streams could get. We’ve had plenty of rain since then, too much some times. By the end of the week, the river and most of the trout streams should be back to pretty good shape.

The Mahantango on the Northumberland County side has been high and off-color for most of the past couple of weeks. Since the last state trout stocking and the Fiddler’s Run lub stocking, the creek has often been unfishable due to high water. I fished it a couple of times and did well, but there are a lot of trout left there and from now on, the Mahantango like many other streams, will see little pressure. That is a shame because under normal summer conditions, the “Mok” gets very warm and trout don’t survive well in any numbers.

I got out on the river a couple of times and between the water getting high and dirty and bass going into the post spawn mode, the fishing has gotten a lot tougher than it was a week or two ago. We go through this every year and eventually they start biting better again.

The last time out, we caught a few fish on just about everything we tried. The water was turning muddy right before our eyes from the last storm. You could catch a couple on one type of lure, then it seemed that unless you changed lures, you couldn’t catch another fish. It went back and forth like that throughout the day. Toward the end of the day, we started getting them on spinnerbaits. The weird thing about that was some old tried and true color patterns were not working. Perhaps they are getting tired of seeing some of the same lures and colors.

I’ve always been a believer in tinkering with lures. It’s pretty easy to “customize” a lure with a magic marker or some nail polish. I’m fortunate enough to have a wife who doesn’t mind if I borrow some of her nail polish, and I inherited some from my two daughters. I know a couple of retired guys who also tinker, but have to buy their own nail polish. They told me they get funny looks from female shoppers as they agonize over which shade of red or purple to buy. But hey, it’s worth it.

Tinker a little here and there and you have a lure that no one else has, and maybe one that works just a little bit better than the factory model. Orange, white, red, brown, green, gold and silver are good colors to mess with. One of the simple things that I like to do is change the belly color of a lure. If the stock color is white, paint it orange or visa-versa. A little red around the head or gills sometimes seems to make a difference. Whatever you do, it’s quick and easy with nail polish and can make a difference when it comes to catching picky fish.

Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the Outdoor Section. Email comments to