As we turn the bend and transition from spring to summer, I’ve jumped in with both feet to gigs outside.
Last Saturday’s fundraising concert for Todd Gladfelter and his family at the beautiful Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Amphitheater was a huge success. Our musicians and bands enjoyed performing in front of hundreds of people who ended up donating $15,500 in just over five hours.
Thanks to all the musicians, Sean Grace and the Hawk Mountain team, Jon Bond for creating the event logo, art and posters, all the volunteers, friends, family and members of the public.
Almost for one person, the event is described as a celebration of love for a very worthy cause to literally help Todd get back on his feet after breaking his neck last November.
The next outdoor concert you can enjoy for free with me, Dave Kline and the Mountain Folk Band is Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the Shartlesville Community Park. Playing in Shartlesville for us is like performing at a family reunion or homecoming due to over two decades of working with Nelson and Tess Miller and their family at past Mountain Bluegrass Festivals Spring Campgrounds there. We’ll do our best to bring back some of the magic of those glory days of the past this Saturday and if you come we’ll ask you to sing with us.
In addition to giving concerts and weeding our vegetable garden, I spent a lot of time fishing.
At least once a week I go out and produce and host a new cable and internet TV show called RAPTR Adventures. Basically, I take viewers on a half-hour fishing or outdoor adventure once a month, and the show airs on BCTV, CWTAP, and its own Facebook page of the same name.
So far our shows have been filmed in Florida, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Here at home, people who love to fish get in on the action with solid connections to Lake Leaser, Lake Ontelaunee, Maidencreek, Tulpehocken Creek and Hay Creek, which are major producers of various species. . Blue Marsh Lake is more challenging, but certainly very rewarding for those who are lucky or put a lot of time and effort into their fishing.
With well over 30 miles of trails around the 6 1/2+ mile lake, there are plenty of opportunities to find a favorite shore spot and hit it off. Blue Marsh also supports a passionate fan base of people who fish from boats with almost half of the lake devoted to quieter, wake-free boating for kayakers and those who dislike the noise and bustle.
No matter where and how you fish Blue Marsh, until you know it, the lake may be reluctant to give up the fish it holds. Heck, I trolled the lake for years and never caught anything. I rowed over 12 miles in one day, and other than strong arms, the only thing I had to show for it at the end was a few sticks or a wayward leaf.
I’ve been with friends on the lake in powerboats and caught a few bass now and again, in between tennis elbow inducing hours of throwing, retrieving, repeating, sighing and repeating.
Enter the Jedi Master, my Yoda of Blue Marsh Lake, Mitch Metcalf, a top-notch fishing guide who specializes in Blue Marsh and how to fish it for results.
I met Mitch at the State Hill boat launch to go with him as a student and learn what he knows so I can develop better skills to catch more fish on the lake. Guide with the perfect personality and approach to the task at hand, Mitch taught me how not to throw so much, but use his drag, bump and feel technique to literally feel and thus see the bottom of the lake with my hands , the line and the stem. We used tiny artificial baits that mimicked crayfish or minnows.
Considering this lake had defeated me so many times, I was understandably skeptical, but I did exactly what Yoda, uh Mitch, told me to do. Within 15 minutes of fishing, wham, first fish and it was good largemouth bass. I quietly thought it must have been some kind of fluke, not the fish’s fluke but some lucky mistake.
“Feel the bait and the bottom,” chanted my fishing sensei Mitch.
A few minutes later I snagged what I thought was a log, but then it moved and pulled out a line. I tried to reel in and pull out my video camera at the same time, but it was stupid. I should have just set the hook and brought the fish into the boat, then filmed it.
As I fought the fish, behind Mitch, in his groovy polarized sunglasses, I saw him first: “It’s a muskellunge,” he shouted.
Then I saw it and it was a nice fat muskie, a type of fish I had never caught at Blue Marsh before. With a quick swipe and a leap, this top predator easily spat out my hook and dove into the lake. We were both delighted with this connection. Long story short, our day on the lake was one of the windiest we’ve ever had and yet with Mitch’s extremely skilled mentorship and knowledge of key spots to fish, by the time we called him a day about five hours later, I had caught more fish, including muskellunge, largemouth bass, and a really big, well-fed smallmouth bass, than I had ever caught before in my entire combined time on the lake which is considerable. This episode of RAPTR Adventures is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/7GYiDRQH2cs
Moral of the story, if you want to spend less time, energy and money guessing how to catch fish in Blue Marsh, forget about doing it the hard way and connect with Mitch Metcalf, my Yoda from Blue Marsh, and let him guide you through a session. His whole approach to guiding is that his clients, students if you will, learn all the secrets of the lake so that you can then go out and use what you have learned to spend memorable and rewarding days on the lake. You can find through his website and his company, Due North Fishing, at dunorthfishing.com, 267-221-7162. Good luck to you and thank you Mitch Metcalf. I will contact him soon to find out more about the often elusive Blue Marsh Lake.
Dave Kline is an award-winning writer, photographer, host and producer, singer-songwriter, travel guide and community advocate. Contact him at [email protected]