Tips, tools for Raystown anglers

Headed to Raystown Lake to try your luck at catching the big one? At 28-miles long, with 118 miles of shoreline, Raystown offers many fish species including stripers, muskies, lake trout, large and small-mouth bass, channel cats, walleyes, brown trout, white and yellow perch, crappies, carp, bluegills etc. Increase your chances of success by learning a few tips. 

Know the Flow 

There are two types of lakes – natural and man-made. Although both are freshwater fishing environments, different techniques and tips apply because shoreline and underwater habitats can differ dramatically. Raystown Lake is a man-made lake, which means water levels can fluctuate more than they would in a natural lake. 

Man-made lake fishing means focusing your efforts around drop-offs, creek edges and ledges, according to information from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. Fish tend to seek out areas near the edges of these types of beds because they offer food, cover and a variety of water depths – all within close proximity. 

It can be helpful to include with your gear a fishing/boating map to find these areas. Pick up a waterproof lake map – depths included – at the Raystown Reflections Gift Shoppe, located in the Raystown Lake Visitor Center.

Secure Your Lure

When fishing for bass at Raystown, consider using baits or lures that can be worked on the bottom near ledges or drop-offs. Soft-plastic worms, lizards and jerk baits are all good baits to try. Casting along the shorelines can occasionally produce bites, but you might have better results if you stick to those drop-offs and ledges. 

“I use just about everything on Raystown: Crankbaits, Slashbaits, weightless Senkos and other plastics, spinnerbaits and swimbaits,” says Bass Resource forum member Nate Follmer. “All these I use in the DEEP water. Find the cliffs and run these beside them. I normally don’t go down much farther than 30 feet for bass; after that, things get a little BIG, and they aren’t bass. This bait will work off the shallow points, too ... I know a few guys who did some dive rescue training there and have seen some fish that scared the pants off them. The catfish, stripers and muskies are the big ones!”

Find out what’s working and pick up the supplies you need at one of the region’s bait shops, such as Seven Points Bait & Grocery or Saxton Outdoor Supply.  

Season and Time

Capt. Kirk Reynolds of Angry Musky Outfitters and striped bass record holder Sparky Price, offer tips based on location and time of year. 

“Stripers can be caught from March through December by targeting your approach,” Price says. “In early spring, casting lures on the shallow flats on the southern end of the lake will produce the year’s first stripers. By mid-May, the entire lake is active. Live bait such as alewife, shad, trout and shiners are the baits of choice.”

“Springtime lake trout fishing is the most action there is on the lake!” Reynolds says. “Troll spoons between 20 and 30-ft. deep in Beer Barrel Bay and Martys Island ... 15-30 trout each trip isn’t uncommon. Also, for lots of action, jig for perch with night crawlers between Mile Markers 18 and 19 and between 16 and 17 in April and May. Cast toward shore and let it sink to the bottom and retrieve slowly. You can catch with a bobber set 3 to 5-ft. deep along shore.”

“Late May through the summer months, the Seven Points area and north to the dam is the area to fish for stripers,” Price adds. “The easiest place to catch bait is in the Snyder’s Run Boat Launch area, from 3 a.m. until daylight.” 

“In the summer, beginners do best around the dam and Mile Marker 1. For serious striper fishing, go out on summer nights for the 30 to 50-pounders. Stripers, 40-pound muskies and walleyes over 15 pounds are caught at night every summer,” Price says. 

“The fall is always exciting, from mid-September until Thanksgiving. Anything can happen anywhere. It’s all daylight fishing. Bait fishing, trolling deep-diving lures, or umbrella rigs will all work,” Price says. 

The large and small-mouth bass are Raystown’s structure-oriented fish. Early morning and evening fishing with surface-style bait will work. During the day, Price recommends deeper in the underwater weeds and trees.

Those who want to learn from a pro might consider chartering a guide service from one of the region’s local outfitters, such as Angry Musky Outfitters

This year promises to be an energy-filled season for Raystown Lake fishermen. According to recent reports, fishing license sales in Pennsylvania are at a 25-year high.