By Bill Wellock, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Fishing started as a hobby for James Lacomis. It’s become something more.
On summer Wednesdays, he joins about 45 other anglers at the Nesbitt Park boat launch for the Suskie Bassmaster’s weekly fishing tournament.
Among the competition is his son, Hunter Lacomis, 21, a senior at Wilkes University. They fish on the same boat, and those hours on the river together are special.
“Having the ability to share that time with my son is really what draws me there now as I get older. Being able to share these experiences with him, and pass that on to him and hope that maybe someday he does the same with his kids. I think that’s pretty much where I’m at now,” said Lacomis, the Bassmaster’s secretary. “I still enjoy it, but just seeing my son every week — it’s guaranteed. I get to see him for three hours every week regardless of how hectic our lives get. So that’s pretty cool.”
The Susquehanna River offers a different challenge for anglers used to a lake. Conditions change depending on the river’s height. When water levels are higher, fish look for cover in vegetation.
A river running five feet or higher, with muddy water, can make fishing difficult; and a current necessitates keeping an eye on the rod and another on the wheel when maneuvering and hauling in fish at the same time. It all makes for a place where local anglers like to come to week after week.
Beside the fish, a trip down the river might include the sight of bald eagles and of deer on the islands in the middle of the stream.
“A lot of people see it as they drive by it, but it’s pretty neat to drive up the middle of it. To go up to Harding and down to Hanover and see it from the river’s point of view,” Lacomis said.
Anglers and paddlers come to the river for recreation, and more people play along its banks. A recent addition to the recreation options is a disc golf course near the boat launch where the Bassmasters began Wednesday tournaments.
More could be coming. County Manager David Pedri requested that Luzerne County Council allocate money for more programming at River Common park, two blocks from Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square and next to the county courthouse.
Bassmasters club members try to improve the river’s health and introduce others to their sport. The club has helped install park benches, distributed rods and reels to children, and organized clean-ups.
“We all take advantage of the river, we all use the river for our own entertainment, but I think we all have a responsibility to maintain that,” Lacomis said. “I don’t think we can just rely on others. If we get enjoyment out of it, we should put something back in.”