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Interview with PA's John Cook
I have a little bit of a bias in doing interviews for GoFishingNow.com. I love talking to my fellow PA anglers. The Keystone State has a lot of great fisheries and learning more about waters that I can easily get to is wonderful. I was really happy when PA's John Cook agreed to discuss his fishing. John is an accomplished fishermen with a lot of information to share.
GFN: You catch some very impressive Pennsylvania bass. What do you consider your favorite PA bass waters?
Thank you! I fish mostly in Northeast PA now. My favorites are probably too small to admit to...lol...but I do have a huge love/hate relationship with Lake Wallenpaupack. I have had some amazing days there; it has also humbled me faster than anywhere else. I love that it has about everything there, large and smallmouth bass, bluff banks, deep channels, big points, pads, docks, grass, wood, pretty much anything. If you want to learn, and don’t get discouraged easy, it’s a good lake to be around.
GFN: Which is your favorite to target, largemouth or smallmouth
I love them both of course. But when it comes to fun fishing smallmouth will always have my heart. They are gorgeous, fight hard, and help keep me learning. Just when I think I might be figuring this fishing thing out, they put me in my place and leave me scratching my head. Ask me if I like them after an unsuccessful morning and I will give you a different answer, but they are worth the hard work.
GFN: What are your favorite methods to target smallmouth bass?
It took me a long time, and I am still working on it, but love sight fishing for them when possible. Also fall is coming up, and when they are schooled up and feeding hard for winter, life long memories can be made in a short period of time. I also love fishing light line spinning gear, often a big part of clear water smallmouth fishing.
GFN: One of your Instagram photos have some California looking swimbaits. I have not had a ton of success with swimbaits in my PA waters. What has been your success with these baits?
Haha...that’s actually a funny and embarrassing story. I heard from several that a small lake near me had some giants. After a few creditable sources shared this same info, I couldn’t resist finding out.
The story was always about the same, people would see them shallow in the spring feeding on stocked trout, spawning, then they would drop off and never be caught.
It’s a super boring lake, no features at all. I was really hoping that I could run some big expensive swimbaits and pull one of these rumored 8-10lb fish out of here.
In the end, I never even seen a bass, lost $75 worth of swimbaits because a 2.5oz lure is overkill for even 20lb line, and got laughed at more than I care to admit by the bank fisherman catching trout all day long. I believe that the lake has some beasts in it, and the swimbait could do the trick, but it will be a long time before you see me try again!
On a side note, normal swimbaits like Keitech Swing Impacts can be a blast for largemouth and smallmouth in the Northeast.
GFN: What is your personal best bass in PA?
I have never owned a scale until this year. I hate guessing because I do not want to be wrong and sound like I am telling stories. This year I caught one that would be top 3 at least, so I will speak on that one.
She was 6lbs and 14oz in early summer after the spawn. I caught her in a public small lake in the Poconos. This one was extra special to be because my mom was in the boat with me when I caught it. She was easily more excited than I was and believe me I was fired up.
Was nothing special, shaky head with a green pumpkin worm, I do it all the time. She was shallow, in a little pocket between 2 bushes. And 6lb line made her extra fun!
GFN: You look like your fishing out of a very nice Stratos. What do you consider the pros and cons of your boat for fishing the waters in your area?
Thank you! The S.S. Sunburn is my baby for sure! Starting with the cons, I don’t have much water around me other than the Susquehanna. Between the river and several really small places, I would be better off with an 18’ aluminum with a 75hp Jet. I personally do well in the river, so it doesn’t hurt me too much to cross her on my way to a lake.
My other biggest issue is ramps. Like I said I love small lakes, and many have poor ramps. I don’t let it stop me, but my poor boat and trailer have some scares from some, and we have rubbed a few people the wrong way in the process of launching.
The pros to me out weight all that. Like I said I rather fish a lake, and she runs much better on the lakes than a jet would. I also am slowly working on getting back into tournament fishing...small ones, no big shot here lol...and need a boat that can handle the bigger New York waters I prefer to fish and tournaments are often held.
Many series also do not allow jets, and have a minimum HP required to sign up. I find the 19’ bass boats perfect, 200hp can get you in the 70s with the right set up, easier on the truck when towing, can handle big and rough water, and swim shallow enough I can get in places with ease that a 21’ 250hp boat cannot.
GFN: How has the Talon helped your fishing? What situations do you find it most helpful?
I love the Talon and can’t wait for the day I can afford a second one. I use it a lot, but mostly when fishing grass. Helps me slow down and pick it apart better than I could in the past. But I find great use for it in so many ways, including docking.
GFN: Thank you John. Love the perspective on fishing Northeastern PA. To follow John, check him out on Instagram.