John Allen is an outdoor writer here in my home State of Pennsylvania. I recently noticed that he was in my neighborhood fishing and having a beer or two at the Snitz Creek Brewery. I reached out to John and he was kind enough to take some time and tell us more about his writing and fishing.
You recently were in my backyard and visiting the cool Snitz Creek Brewery. Where were you fishing in the Lebanon area?
I fished the Quittapahilla Creek and Snitz Creek. The fishing was pretty good. I didn’t catch much in the way of numbers, but I did catch two over 16”. Pat from Snitz Creek Brewery was my guide and he didn’t steer me wrong in the way of fishing or beer choices.
You were here with the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. What can you tell us about this organization?
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association is the 2nd largest state Outdoor Writers group in the country. We get together on an annual basis to improve our craft, meet up with old friends and, of course, enjoy the outdoors. My favorite part about it is getting to see so many unique places in PA.
If I understand it correctly based on my research, you are a CPA by day and outdoor writer by night. Is that correct?
Correct, however, I did switch jobs last year. I still practice as a CPA during tax time on the side, but I’m now the Finance Director for Zeigler Brothers, who is a fish, shrimp and specialty pet feed manufacture.
When did you get into outdoor writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and talking about the outdoors, so I guess it was just natural for the two to eventually come together.
How did you start writing for PA Angler and Boater?
The PA Angler and Boater was a large amount of luck. My best friend had an internship with the PA Fish & Boat commission in 2005. Their editor sent out a request looking for younger writers to join the magazine. My friend then gave the editor my name and contact information. The editor got back to me with an assignment on “winter trout fishing.”
I spent much of college fishing during the winter months so I knew I could put a good article together. I put in a lot of hours making sure that it was perfect. I sent it back to the editor and he responded back that he loved it. He then asked me to become a regular contributor to the magazine. To date, I’ve had about 65 articles published in the magazine and I just crested 100 published articles overall.
What are your goals as a writer?
My goal is to eventually expand beyond Pennsylvania based publications, but life and a full-time job often get in the way of that. I’ve thought about a book, but everyone I know that has had a book published has had nothing but horror stories to tell me about the process. If I were to write a book, it would either be on small stream trout fishing or kayak fishing. Those are definitely the two topics that I know the most about and feel that I could really put together a good, informative book.
Now about your fishing…I see you fishing out of your kayak. What are your favorite PA waters to kayak fish?
Susquehanna River – World class bass and catfish action with a ton of access points.
Conodoguient Creek- Good bass fishing and there’s always a chance for a tiger muskie in here. Also a lot of good access points along its journey.
Holman Lake – I pretty much grew up on this lake and it has almost everything that you can imagine in it. It is an excellent lake for variety of fish and size. You should see some of the tiger muskies that cruise the shorelines here. It’s a small enough lake that it never gets too rough for a kayak and you can cover most of the shoreline in the course of a day.
Juniata River – This river has excellent bass and catfish action. There is always a good chance at a bonus walleye in here depending on the time of the year. You can find a lot of good public access here as well. Plus, there are spots here where you can only access via a kayak or a jet boat.
Long Pine Dam – This is one of the most picturesque lakes in the state. It sits on the top of a mountain in the middle of Michaux State Forest. I enjoy being here even on days when the fishing is bad. This also has a good variety of fish.
If you can’t tell I like catching just about anything that swims, so a body of water with multiple species in it will draw me to it every time.
You recently took a trip to Maine. How was the fishing on your trip?
I went to Central Maine, just west of Augusta. I fished Pocasset Lake, Androscoggin Lake and two connecting ponds. My father-in-law has a cabin up there, so it has been an annual trip for the last 11 years.
The fishing was excellent. I averaged 10 fish per hour of fishing most days. The quality was exceptional as well. I had 34 bass over 18” and 14 of those crested 20”. It took me a few years to really learn how to fish those lakes up there, but I’d say I have things figured out pretty well now.
I also saw you took a trip to Montana. Tell us about that trip.
I was asked to present at the 2016 Outdoor Writers Association of America’s annual conference in Billings, Montana on “Accounting for Writers.” So I decided to make a trip of it. I was able to talk my buddy that is really into hiking into going and away we went. We did a 68 mile hike in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in northwest Montana. We followed the South Fork of the Flathead River and the White River for most of the hike.
The fishing was excellent. The Westslope Cutthroat trout put up an excellent battle each time. I also was able to land a bonus Bull Trout. On one stretch of the White River, I fished over a pool of rising trout all between 15” and 18”. I was fortunate enough to land 8 of them. That is definitely a memory that I will never forget. It was a heck of a journey to get there, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back there.
What is one place in Pennsylvania you have yet to fish that is high on your bucket list?
That is a good question. I’d probably have to say either the Lehigh River or upper Delaware River. They’re both very well known for big brown trout. I’d love to spend some time chucking streamers on either one of those.
Where is one place outside of PA that you have yet to fish that is high on your bucket list?
I have a lot of places on my list; most of them are out west, but if I have to choose one, then it has to be Alaska. I would probably need at least two weeks up there, because I feel like the fishing options up there are endless. I don’t know if there are too many better places in the world that you can catch big fish in big numbers than Alaska.
Lastly, out of all your big fish pics, my favorite is one from Maine with you helping your daughter, I believe, catching her first fish with the pink rod. As an angler and outdoor writer, what are the lessons about life that you hope to pass on to your daughter through the outdoors?
That is definitely my favorite photo as well. It’s been my background on my computer ever since it was taken. Unfortunately, she was not as receptive to having her picture taken with a fish this year.
The biggest life lesson that I would like to pass on through the outdoors is whenever something has you stressed out in life, know that you can always just go outdoors and let it all go away. Most times in the outdoors isn’t about shooting a deer or catching a big fish, but rather the escape the hustle of life where everything goes at the pace you wish to set.
I have included a few links to some of John’s articles from Pennsylvania Angler and Boater below. You can also follow John on Instagram @theoutdoorcpa.