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A Guided Tour of Allegheny River ‘hot spots’

May 13, 2010
By Larry Claypool, OV Times Editor
Since I’ve never fished in nearby Pennsylvania, and didn’t want to turn down an offer to ‘lure’ in some nice smallmouth bass, I recently accepted an invitation from OV Times Fishing Editor Jeff Knapp to fish for smallies on the Allegheny River.

As OVO and OV Times readers know, Knapp is a very good fishing writer. Knowledgeable, clear and precise too. That’s why I asked him to be our Fishing Editor when we started the Times one year ago. But he’s an even better fisherman and fishing guide.

It was a beautiful May day (cool and clear in the morning with temperatures reaching the low 80’s by the afternoon) that I met Knapp just off Interstate 80 near Emlenton, PA, which is just minutes from the Allegheny River. A short drive later we were ready to launch Knapp’s nifty 18-foot Polar Kraft jetboat at the Parker City Access.

We were quickly off to our first ‘hot spot’ — a quick jaunt upstream between the shoreline and first piers of the Parker Bridge. Knapp caught a nice smallie on his first cast. My third cast netted my first bronzeback of the day. A few minutes later I had another fish. This one probably was my biggest of the day — around 17 inches. We took a photo, made a few more casts with Magic Stiks (by Case Plastics) baits and moved to another location.

We zigged and zagged up and down the shallow Allegheny for the next few hours, catching at least 2-3 more fish each in key spots known by Knapp. Action in some areas was sparse due to spawning, explained my guide.

We hit a slow period, forcing Knapp to switch to more active swimbaits (Magic Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures). It worked. He quickly caught a nice 18 1/2-inch smallie in swift, shallow water he said usually holds bigger fish. We then moved to fishing along a string of several upstream islands. That produced no fish — with the wind picking up — so we cruised further upstream, about 5-6 miles, near the Interstate 80 bridge. By that time I too switched to the bright yellow Magic Shad bait.

Drifting along the banks for the next half mile or so produced a few more exciting catches for each of us. I missed a few too, but it was fun watching fish strike the squiggly yellow swimbait. (I must add those to my tackle box.)

We finished the day with around eight fish each, all smallmouth except a legal-size walleye Knapp caught.

Knapp’s specialty is guiding 1-2 people for smallmouth fishing on the middle Allegheny. He also offers walleye and muskie fishing trips. Other waters he frequents include; Keystone Lake, Kahle Lake and Pymatuning Lake. Guided trips cost $175 (1 or 2 persons) for a half-day and $250 for full-day (Pymatuning is $300). All tackle is included.

Knapp, who’s fished Pennsylvania waters for more that 40 years, is a welding inspector by trade but guides 50+ fishing trips a year under the name of Keystone Connection Guide Service and is on the water about 175 times a year from March to November.

Knapp’s Polar Kraft boat is powered by a neat 90-hp Evinrude E-Tec jet outboard. For lake trips and select portions of the Allegheny, he uses a Lund Pro-V 1900 with a Mercury 150 hp Opti-Max and 9.9 hp Honda four-stroke kicker.

Additional information about Knapp or his Keystone Connection Guide Service, visit the Website at www.keystoneconnection.com. He can be reached at 724-902-6082 or by email: info@keystoneconnection.com.

For the past 20 years Knapp’s outdoor columns have appeared in several publications including local newspapers and regional and national magazines. He’s done a few television shows and offers seminars to various groups about his specialty.

Article Photos

OV Times Fishing Editor Jeff Knapp shows off one of many nice catches during a guided trip recently with the author on the Allegheny River. Photo by Larry Claypool

Fact Box

Additional information about Knapp or his Keystone Connection Guide Service, visit the Website at www.keystoneconnection.com. He can be reached at 724-902-6082 or by email: info@keystoneconnection.com.

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