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Catching Raystown Lake Bass

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:07 pm
by JackSprat

Raystown Lake is a challenge for most anglers even if you have the right boat and equipment. It is deep with multiple layers of water temperature that range from the “warm water” upper strata to the cold water fishery below. The stripers, bass [largemouth and smallmouth], walleye, lake trout, catfish, perch, and panfish spend their lives pursuing the abundant baitfish in the lake and frustrating the anglers who think they can solve the Raystown puzzle.

Many of the local guys who have mastered the lake are now fishing guides. Given the price of gas and equipment and the frustration of going fishless after trying it on your own, hiring a guide may be a good investment.

I fish from shore so you know I have an uphill battle. When you take one look at the topography, you can see that the steep hillsides surrounding the lake offer few locations that provide easy access. But there are some.

This past March through most of May, I caught nice crappies. The keepers averaged around 12 inches – biggest was 15 inches. My best day was 19 fish. That is plenty of fish to fillet.

The “crappie trees” also produced some 3-4 pound bass [large and smallmouth], a 12” perch, a few walleye, a five pound channel catfish, and palm-sized bluegills. All were caught on small jigs tipped with minnows. [Crappie Story:]

I only kept the crappies and put the catfish in a farm pond. As I filleted the fish, I found 3” gizzard shad in the stomach contents of the crappies. Some were stuffed with two or three.

It is summer now and I have a plan to catch some open-water bass.

Each year, the shad or alewives spawn on the shoreline and along the riprap areas. As expected that activity attracts attention of the larger fish. Once the adults finishing spawning and move off into open water, the young of the year become clouds of vulnerable bait. Most people who fish the lake can see this activity near shore on calm days at daybreak. I watch and wait for the gangs of bass to start focusing on this forage.

The bass are usually 9 to 15 inches long, but the action is exciting and very predictable once they start to “bust” the bait schools. I use a small silver Kastmaster lure, open face-reel spooled with 6# line and light action rod. Just wait at a feeding location [you must do some research to find one – the Route 994 causeway is my favorite] at daybreak. You will know when the action starts because the bait fish will start to “fly.”



Causeway images looking south then north



Cast beyond the feeding fish and skip the lure through the action. If you get a “boil” and miss the fish, stop the retrieve and let the lure flutter down several feet to try to catch the larger bass waiting under the school for the crippled bait. Yes, they are the lazy fish that is why they are bigger than the youngsters chasing their food and doing all the work.

The morning action lasts about an hour or two and repeats the next day or until the spawn departs for open water. I have seen similar action throughout the day depending on the weather, especially right before a summer thunderstorm.

FYI: I have written stories on panfish, turkeys, steelhead, Flag Day, trout fishing, Memorial Day, and plenty of other topics. Like most people who love to spend time outdoors, we are just regular people who enjoy all that life has to offer! Visit my home page to learn more about me and my stories:

Raystown Lake

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:28 pm
by delawarebass
Very nice!! I fish there a good deal and that was a great read. I also posted several new bass fishing videos on Raystown Lake at my site for everyone to watch at no charge if they like. Tight lines, Steve

There are now over 200 new bass fishing videos up on the new bass fishing site