Lake Wallenpaupack is a northeastern Pennsylvania fishery. This lake has both smallmouth and largemouth bass. In this interview we focus on fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass by talking to angler Zach Dunham. Zach breaks down how he fishes this lake for smallmouth bass throughout the year.
How long have you been fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass?
I’ve been fishing Lake Wallenpaupack roughly 10 years.
How is the smallmouth bass population currently compared to when you first started fishing the lake?
Other people’s opinions may differ, but I think the smallmouth population has been pretty constant over that time, while the largemouth population has slightly declined. I think the average smallmouth weighed in is also slightly better over the past 10 years.
How would you describe the lake for someone who has never been there before from a smallmouth bass fishing perspective?
I would tell them it is a very challenging lake a lot of the time. There are some anglers who know that lake far better than I ever will. Even when I think it’s impossible to find good fish, they manage to do it every time. I prefer to fish lakes like this because it makes other places seem easier. A lot of really good anglers come from this area and I think that’s a major factor.
Lets start with the spring. How do you go about fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass?
In the spring I love to throw a jerkbait. I love fishing reaction baits and moving quickly while covering water. Depending on the time in the spring I might target main lake points, rock piles/boulders half way back into coves, or even fish all the way at the backs of coves.
The key to the jerkbait is finding the right cadence on any given day. Sometimes long pauses are best and sometimes working the bait with no pauses works better; anything can change at any given time. This April was much colder than usual so it was a tough year for my style.
Summertime brings boat traffic on this popular lake. Are you fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass in the summer?
I do fish the lake in the summer when I’m not fishing up in New York state or other places. The boat traffic can get a bit crazy sometimes and it definitely deters a lot of fishermen.
In the early summer a big key to catching more is slowing down and really picking apart areas where you know they live. As I said above, I like reaction baits and fishing quickly so the early summer is not my best time of year. I’ve gotten better at it but not nearly good enough. There are many areas to catch them whether it be fishing docks, boulders, deeper ledges, or deeper grass.
What do you consider a good 5 fish limit of smallmouth on Lake Wallenpaupack?
In the summer time a good limit of smallmouth is in the 13 to 15 pound range. In spring and later in the fall maybe more 15 to 17 pounds and occasionally higher.
What do you consider your confidence bait?
Tube jigs are definitely my confidence bait for this lake after the morning shad spawn bite, if there is one.
Fall can mean very hungry smallies in the Northeast. What is fall fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass like?
For me at least, fall fishing can be very hit or miss depending on the weather and the day. Sometimes it fishes like the springtime and sometimes it can be a very deep bite and that is a weakness of mine. It is a goal of mine come this fall to spend many practice days only fishing deep water and learning.
What smallmouth baits do you have tied on when fall fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass?
In the fall, as with any other time of the year, I will try to capitalize on a topwater or spinnerbait bite for the first bit of daylight and see if anything is actively feeding. Once the day gets going it could be anything from jigs/tube jigs, to drop shots and small swimbaits in deep water, to jerkbaits and shallow crankbaits. It all depends on the weather and the day.
Overall, what advice that you have for anyone who wants to go fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass for the first time?
Firstly I would say don’t expect to come right in and start slamming them. It could happen on any given day, but generally the lake is a lot tougher than other places I fish. If you are coming from places like Champlain, Oneida, and the Finger Lakes, it’s going to be a rude awakening.
Secondly, spend time driving around and graphing. I still have trouble forcing myself to do this but it is very necessary certain times of the year.
Thirdly, slow down! Remember you are taking that piece of advice from an angler who hates slowing down and has been bitten by that many times.
Who are your current pro staff companies?
I am only affiliated with Kistler Rods right now and I am very happy keeping it that way. In my opinion they are the most sensitive rods on the planet. They also have a very wide ranging selection that covers pretty much everything.
I’ve avoided trying to get on a ton of pro staffs to collect logos for a small discount, and I’m still very happy with that decision.
Thanks Zach for sharing with us about how you approach fishing for Lake Wallenpaupack smallmouth bass. Will be following on Instagram @zachdunhamfishing.