Regional Reports: EAST

Tom turkeys in Pennsylvania; Train-ride trout in West Virginia; Early season muskies in New Jersey; and New York winter walleye fishing

Pennsylvania
Impoundment Toms
Butler County is fast becoming one of the top spring turkey destinations in the Keystone State. Though not considered part of Pennsylvania’s traditional turkey range, Butler has come on strong in recent years due to shifting habitats and now has a burgeoning turkey population. Foremost among Butler’s abundant public hunting lands is State Game Lands (SGL) 95, which covers 9,000 acres of low, rolling hills in the northwestern corner of the county.

Within SGL 95, an especially productive spot is the area known locally as “the glades,” which is a territory around Glade Dam Lake near Moniteau High School that has been managed intensively for small game over the last few years. Your main strategy for the longbeards in the glades is to skirt the edges of the bottomlands that border the lake, periodically making loud locator calls. Once a tom answers, set up against a tree and call with your back to the lake. This limits a bird’s avenue of approach and increases the chance that he’ll come in directly to your “shooting side.”

On the whole, SGL 95 is divided into five different tracts that contain a wide variety of terrain. The two smaller parcels to the east of Route 38 consist mostly of mature hardwoods and, according to local wildlife conservation officer Chip Brunst, also hold very good turkey hunting.
Contact: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Northwest Region (P.O. Box 31, Franklin, PA 16323; 877-877-0299).
-Jon Farley

West Virginia
Train-Ride Trout
The Shaver’s Fork of Cheat River between Cheat Bridge and Bemis is a 25-mile stretch of quality trout water tucked in some thick Appalachian wilderness. But the old railroad grade that parallels the entire length of Shaver’s Fork now hosts a tourist train that runs from Spruce all the way to Bowden. For $16 to $26, depending on how far you wish to go, you can ride the Cheat Mountain Salamander and jump off to fish anywhere within the Monongahela National Forest boundaries. The train will pick you up on a return trip.

The mouths of Crouch Run and McGee Run, in the 5.5-mile catch-and-release area between Whitmeadow and McGee, offer some terrific fishing in the nearby pools and runs. The High Falls section, which is under catch-and-keep regulations, is another fine trout destination. The train engineers can also tip you off to additional hot spots, as the Division of Natural Resources uses the rail to stock this section of the river.
Contact: Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad (877-686-7245; www.mountainrail.com).
-Rob Reaser

New Jersey
Early Season Muskies
New Jersey muskie anglers take note: If a week of sun warms the shallows in mid-March, get out there. And by “there,” we mean Monksville Reservoir in Passaic County (where the 42 1/2-pound record was caught in 1997) near Hewitt, and Lake Hopatcong bordering Sussex and Morris counties. Cast smaller-than-usual lures and baits to good cover such as weeds, logs and rocks-especially rocks because they absorb the sun’s heat and muskies hang out next to them. Slow presentations will also increase your odds of success.

Best spots in Lake Hopatcong? Try the eastern shoreline bordering Mount Arlington, particularly the stretch between the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club and the Great Cove Marine Police Barracks. In Monksville Reservoir, head for the large area of flooded timber. Also go to the other side of the roadway, near the dam and opposite the boat launch where some drop-offs can hold some impressive muskies.

The muskie fishery is open all year except during the two weeks prior to the opening of trout season (the first or second Saturday in April). The daily muskie limit is one fish of at least 36 inches in Lake Hopatcong or one of at least 30 inches at Monksville.
Contact: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlif(609-292-9450).
-Oliver Shapiro

Vermont
Call of the Gobble
Pawlet, Vt., still leads the state annually in turkey-kill, but the towns of Rupert, Dorest, Sandgate, Tinmouth and Danby, all of which flank Pawlet, are also exceptional. These towns harbor nearly ideal turkey habitat with plenty of agriculture in the valleys amid hardwood ridges, hills and mountains in southwestern Vermont.

Gaining access to private land for hunting turkeys is key. While much land is posted, landowners are generally receptive to polite requests for access. Pre-season scouting and contact with landowners is essential; the season runs May 1 to May 31. The Mettawee River Valley has prime turkey habitat and is a key place to scout for private land access. All along the Mettawee’s flow, well-run dairy farms provide crop fields and pastures that border the hardwood ridges and mountains. State Route 30 parallels the river for its entire Vermont run. While public hunting land is not abundant, you can find birds at the Rupert State Forest and the Tinmouth Channel WMA.
Contact: John Hall, information specialist, Fish and Wildlife Department (103 South Main Street, 10 South, Waterbury, VT 05671-0501; 802-241-3700); Vermont Department of Tourism (802-828-3237; www.travel-vermont.com).
-T.F.

** New York**
Winter Wonder Walleye Land
Honeoye-sounds like “honey hole,” doesn’t it? If you’re a walleye man, it truly is, because Honeoye Lake is an icefishing nirvana. Just 28 miles south of Rochester in Ontario County, Honeoye is 10th in size among New York’s 11 Finger Lakes but holds fabulous densities of walleyes thanks to a state stocking program. There are roughly 28,000 adult walleyes in Honeoye, according to the Region 8 office estimates.

Honeoye Lake has so many walleyes that the Department of Environmental Conservation lowered its minimum creel length from the Finger Lakes standard of 18 inches to 15 inches and increased the daily catch limit from three walleyes to five.

Tip-ups can work for these walleyes, but they tend to keep you confined to a small area. Do as the veteran icefishermen on the lake do-run and gun, moving until you hit a hot spot, then jig with three- to five-inch Rapalas tipped with perch eyes. Spray scent on your jigs also. Key on the 10- to 20-foot depths in the northeastern corner of the lake or in the Log Cabin Point area.
Contact: New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 8 (716-226-5380; www.dec.state.ny.us).
-T.R. Hendrick

Massachusetts
Gobblers to Come
Massachusetts has two counties that virtually match each other for the highest spring wild turkey take: Berkshire on the western end of the state where wild turkeys were initially reintroduced and Worcester in the middle of the state.

In Berkshire County, public land abounds, with Sandisfield, East Mountain, Beartown and Mount Washington state forests in the southern county all holding birds. Focus on October Mountain, Pittsfield and Savoy Mountain state forests to the north. In Worcester County, public hunting centers on Hubbardston, Phillipston, Millers River, Birch Hill and High Ridge wildlife management areas, which all hold excellent turkey habitat. But hunting on private land is also productive, especially in the western farming and forestry areas of the county. Pay particular attention to the towns of Royalston, Templeton, Oakham, the Brookfields and Charlton. All have good habitat and numbers of birds, and landowners will often grant hunting permission if politely asked.

Massachusetts gives out an unlimited number of turkey permits. Turkey hunting permit applications must be received by MassWildlife by March 15 to ensure they are returned by the opening day of the spring season. The season runs from April 29 to May 25, in Berkshire, Worcester, Essex, Franklin Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex counties. It runs from April 29 to May 11, 2002 in Barnstable, Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth counties.
Contact: Jim Cardoza, turkey project leader, MassWildlife (One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581; 508-792-7270, ext. 124).
-T.F.

Maryland
Deer Creek Shad
In late March, Maryland anglers should head to Deer Creek near Susquehanna State Park, where the annual run of hickory shad provides some of the most intense freshwater fishing action found in the Old Line State. Scores of the hard-fighting fish can be caught on small shad darts or by flyfishermen dead-drifting weighted red and yellow marabou streamers.
Contact: Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service (800-688-FINS).

Turkeys
With an April 13 opener, Maryland offers one of the earliest starting dates in the East for spring gobblers. This means gobbler fanatics in surrounding states can dramatically increase their number of productive days afield by making the drive to the rugged western end of the state (an easy drive for some Pennsylvania and West Virginia hunters). One particular turkey-rich public land to focus on is the 6,800-acre Garrett State Forest in Garrett County.
Contact: Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Division (410-260-8540).

March 30: Trout season opens. April 13: Youth Family Hunt. April 18-May 16: Spring turkey season. Massachusetts
Salmon Double
Two top ice-out salmon destinations are Lake Mattawa in Orange and Lake Metacomet in Belchertown. Mattawa has smelt, so troll big tandem streamers, like Gray Ghosts, Nine-Threes or Ballou specials. Metacomet has golden shiners, so troll Rapala plugs, Mickey Finns or bright cardinelle streamers. Troll fast and near the surface. Eight- to 12-pound-test is about right.
Contact: Ralph Taylor, Connecticut Valley district supervisor (341 East Street, Belchertown, MA 01007; 413-323-7632).

Cape Cod Trout
Grews Pond, Mares Pond, Hathaway Pond, Johns Pond and Mashpee-Wakeby Pond are five spring-fed trout waters easily covered in a couple days. Overlooked trout can reach double-digit pounds. Use live alewives and night crawlers, streamers (Hornberg, threadfin shad), spoons (Thomas Buoyant, Flash Kings) or plugs.
Contact: Louis Hambley, district supervisor, Southeast Wildlife District (195 Bournedale Road, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532; 508-759-3406).

** New Hamphire**
Turkey Picks
Cheshire County in southwestern New Hampshire boasts the highest density of wild turkeys in the state, and is full of top habitat. Scout Pisgah State Park near Winchester, which provides over 13,000 acres of mixed cover and public hunting. Look for ambush spots along edges of clearings and near water sources. Don’t ignore the, Essex, Franklin Hampden, Hampshire and Middlesex counties. It runs from April 29 to May 11, 2002 in Barnstable, Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth counties.
Contact: Jim Cardoza, turkey project leader, MassWildlife (One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581; 508-792-7270, ext. 124).
-T.F.

Maryland
Deer Creek Shad
In late March, Maryland anglers should head to Deer Creek near Susquehanna State Park, where the annual run of hickory shad provides some of the most intense freshwater fishing action found in the Old Line State. Scores of the hard-fighting fish can be caught on small shad darts or by flyfishermen dead-drifting weighted red and yellow marabou streamers.
Contact: Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service (800-688-FINS).

Turkeys
With an April 13 opener, Maryland offers one of the earliest starting dates in the East for spring gobblers. This means gobbler fanatics in surrounding states can dramatically increase their number of productive days afield by making the drive to the rugged western end of the state (an easy drive for some Pennsylvania and West Virginia hunters). One particular turkey-rich public land to focus on is the 6,800-acre Garrett State Forest in Garrett County.
Contact: Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Division (410-260-8540).

March 30: Trout season opens. April 13: Youth Family Hunt. April 18-May 16: Spring turkey season. Massachusetts
Salmon Double
Two top ice-out salmon destinations are Lake Mattawa in Orange and Lake Metacomet in Belchertown. Mattawa has smelt, so troll big tandem streamers, like Gray Ghosts, Nine-Threes or Ballou specials. Metacomet has golden shiners, so troll Rapala plugs, Mickey Finns or bright cardinelle streamers. Troll fast and near the surface. Eight- to 12-pound-test is about right.
Contact: Ralph Taylor, Connecticut Valley district supervisor (341 East Street, Belchertown, MA 01007; 413-323-7632).

Cape Cod Trout
Grews Pond, Mares Pond, Hathaway Pond, Johns Pond and Mashpee-Wakeby Pond are five spring-fed trout waters easily covered in a couple days. Overlooked trout can reach double-digit pounds. Use live alewives and night crawlers, streamers (Hornberg, threadfin shad), spoons (Thomas Buoyant, Flash Kings) or plugs.
Contact: Louis Hambley, district supervisor, Southeast Wildlife District (195 Bournedale Road, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532; 508-759-3406).

** New Hamphire**
Turkey Picks
Cheshire County in southwestern New Hampshire boasts the highest density of wild turkeys in the state, and is full of top habitat. Scout Pisgah State Park near Winchester, which provides over 13,000 acres of mixed cover and public hunting. Look for ambush spots along edges of clearings and near water sources. Don’t ignore the