There’s something to be said about hunting and fishing. In what other capacity can you walk directly into the woods with no plans, no direction, and zero intention but come back with something? There are few things like it.
Sometimes things happen that you don’t expect. Whether you’re out on the trail or deep in the woods, you never know what’s waiting around the corner. It could be the greatest fishing opportunity of your life or six hours of completely wasted time. You’ll never know unless you dive in with both feet and give it a shot.
The Story Behind Aston Mountain
I live in the Northeastern area of Pennsylvania right outside Scranton. Exceptional fishing and sub-par hunting if anyone is asking my opinion. But, as I said, great fishing here. Plenty of rivers, small creeks, and beautiful backwater ponds to make a bass angler stain his pants.
There was this one area that I frequented because I preferred to get away from the crowds and fish areas there were, say, less desirable for whatever reason. One of these areas was Aston Mountain. It was about a two-mile walk just to get to the water from the road and there was very little access to the trail unless you had an ATV or something similar.
But, it’s okay, I was used to it.
Like any other day, I mount up my gear, grab my tackle box, and holster my .45 ACP as I normally would. I got a concealed carry permit a few years ago so it pretty much goes with me anywhere and it serves as good protection when you’re in the woods alone. If nothing else, it’s enough to scare something off.
As I’m loading my gear into the back of the truck I had a sudden epiphany and decided to change course. The interesting thing about Aston Mountain is that the water flows from a reservoir and that’s what feeds into the water below. I knew for a fact that there was an area towards the top where I could launch my boat if I wanted to. It was just a small 12-foot jon boat, nothing crazy. If nothing else, I could drop it and push it into the water if need be.
I decided to hook up the trailer and give it a shot. If I couldn’t find a decent place to hit the water I could always go back and walk to the pond a few miles back but I was pretty determined to give this a try. There are areas where there’s plenty of vegetation and really great opportunities to catch some largemouth bass. I wanted to give it a try.
Aston Mountain was about a 15-minute drive from my house and the wife knew that I was heading there that Saturday. She had to work.
I eventually made it there and turned up the winding road until I reached what felt like the top of the world. I was greeted with the very sight that I wanted to see and it was a wide opening where you could tell plenty of people have dropped their boat into the water.
Heck, I barely even had to push the boat. I was able to back down onto the grass with my Ford Ranger and slide the boat right in, anchor up, and park the truck a couple of hundred feet from the spot. It couldn’t have gone much better than that.
On The Water
If I could paint a picture of how perfect this setup was, I would. The pond couldn’t have been larger than 2-3 acres with a beautiful river feeding right off of it, just barely deep enough to get a kayak on it. Earlier in the season, I bought a portable fish finder because I was storing my boat outside and didn’t have a cover for it yet so I didn’t want anything too permanent. It sure as hell came in handy though in this unfamiliar lake.
I spent the latter half of the morning bringing in mostly panfish, sunnies, bluegill, and the occasional annoying pickerel. No bass.
I knew if I traveled southbound towards the river I would be able to find something. Bass like running water because it brings a lot of nutrients and vitamins from the algae.
Unfortunately the current picked up pretty heavy as I got towards the inlet and I was forced down the river in the boat. It was barely deep enough for a kayak so the boat got pretty beat up and the small trolling motor I had wasn’t enough to get me past the current. I was marooned so to speak.
A Close Encounter
Bears are a pretty real problem in NEPA for bass anglers because we like to do stupid shit like this and experiment in unfamiliar territory alone. I was able to drag my boat up onto the shore but knew that I was out of luck because a sharp rock put a bullet-sized hole in it. I had to get out of here, get back home, and come back with my patching kit. I never said I was smart. You know, like someone who keeps the kit in their truck?
I made it back to the original trail only to be greeted by a nice big bear cookie. To say I proceeded with my hand ready would be an understatement. It was late summer when I knew that bears are nesting their cubs so if there’s one out and about, I know I must be close.
About a mile up the trail, I see a mama brown bear and two cubs down near the river. My heart is pounding like a bass drum because I know how aggressive they can be at this time of year. I upholster my .45 and proceed with caution. They spotted me but crossed the river slowly, thank God it was shallow.
Up until this point I’ve only heard of stories like this. The kind of story where everything that could go wrong does until the moment when things go right. It was a beautiful sight seeing the bears bathe in the river. I only wish I could’ve enjoyed it for longer but I was too worried about the stupid boat.