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Into the Outdoors: The Allegheny River

Although as this is being written, it is high, muddy and debris filled, we are going to look at the Allegheny this week.  Based on current conditions, it’s easy to tell what opening day of trout season is going to be like.  There will be little to write about.  In fact, it will take the streams awhile to settle down.  In addition to being my favorite fishery, the river is easily accessible to most of us in this circulation area. The variety of fishing to be found in the river is really quite impressive.

Anyone who thinks that there are not big fish in the river is mistaken.  There are some giants.  I have never caught one, but I have seen them.

The river is very shallow in some places and really deep in others.  This makes it an ideal habitat for countless fish and other forms of aquatic life.

The river is probably best known for smallmouth bass.  Over the years, I have caught countless numbers of these scrappy fighters. They are so much fun to catch.  Even very small ones jump when hooked.  Even though you have to release them, they are fun to catch.  Keepers are delicious. Live bait is probably your best bet, as expensive lures get irretrievably snagged too often.

Next up, we have walleyes.  In my opinion, these are just about the best eating of all fish. They go deep in the daytime, but you can catch them closer to shore at night and in the early morning. They seem to really love nightcrawlers. A nice batch of deep fried walleyes, along with hushpuppies or french fries, is a meal fit for a king.

When it comes to fun to catch, the river’s carp rank right in there.  I have tried a number of ways to eat them, all with no success.  River legend Johnny Logue smoked them and they were really good, but it never worked for me.  Given that, I just return them to the water unharmed.  I don’t like to kill something I don’t want to eat.

One of my all time favorite fish is the catfish, and the Allegheny has lots of them.  The most common are channel cats and flatheads.  When you come right down to it, it is hard to find better eating fish.  In my experience, live bait is the only way to go when fishing for cats.

Suckers are also abundant in the river.  I have never caught them on anything but redworms.  White suckers, hogsuckers and the occasional redhorse can be found in the river.  It’s sort of fun to catch them, but they are another one I return to the water unharmed.

There are also some unusual fish to be caught in the river.  Old Bub once caught a longnose gar.  A guy caught a shad and gave it to us.  We just could not make it edible, despite a lot of effort.  A few years ago, a guy caught a paddlefish.  He released it, as they are considered endangered.  I have also heard that there are sturgeon in the river, but I have never met anyone who has caught one.  There are even freshwater eels.

I love the Allegheny.  Never overlook it when it comes to fishing.

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