Pennsylvania's Eastern Region Spring Bass

Old favorites and rejuvenated waters combine to produce some excellent springtime bassin' on eastern Pennsylvania's warmwater lakes. (May2009)

Old favorites and rejuvenated waters combine to produce some excellent springtime bassin' on eastern Pennsylvania's warmwater lakes. Though the location of these east state waters certainly has not changed, nor have any new lakes been added, population trends, water quality and even the opening and closing of some impoundments makes for a changing scene in bass fishing, and the constant revision of any top-lake list.

For instance, one eastern favorite, Leaser Lake in Lehigh County, is now effectively shut down due to dam repairs, while another lake, Gouldsboro Lake in Monroe County, recently reopened when its dam repairs were completed.

Spring is truly a hot time for bass on most Eastern Region waters. While it's certainly worth fishing lakes with reliable reputations, why not put some less familiar or slightly forgotten waters on your list this season?

The following are sure to satisfy the most discriminating bass angler this spring:

MAUCH CHUNK LAKE
This year, there should be more bass in Mauch Chunk Lake than there normally is. That's because the 330-acre lake in Carbon County has received some of the fish salvaged from shrunken Leaser Lake, which was drawn down for dam repairs.

Last November, Mauch Chunk was stocked with a number of species from Leaser Lake, but it is unknown how many of them were bass. Even if only baitfish were transferred, that will have a positive effect on Mauch Chunk's bass.

In recent years, Mauch Chunk has come on as a fine bass fishery in the Northeast Region. Anglers speak of being increasing satisfied with their bass outings on this lake. Of course, spring is a key time for good fishing.

As temperatures increase, the western end of the impoundment is the first to heat up, in terms of water temperature and bass strikes. The western end is generally the shallowest area of the lake -- on the opposite end from Mauch Chunk's earthen dam. A wide, meandering channel snakes its way through the upper end, and on both sides of the channel are wide flats. As the early weeds reach toward the surface, the shallow flats will be active.

Another good area on the upper end is the large cove east of Boat Launch B.

Mauch Chunk Lake is part of a Carbon County municipal park, so access is excellent. The impoundment is on the Lentz Trail Highway west of Jim Thorpe.

For more information, call the park office at (570) 325-3669.

GOULDSBORO LAKE
After being shut down for some three years while its spillway was repaired, Gouldsboro Lake in Monroe and Wayne counties is now open and promising some hot spring fishing. Plus, with renewed bass stockings, there should be more good angling to come.

No one knew how long it would take to refill the 250-acre lake that lies in the central Pocono Mountains, but apparently, it took less time than expected. (It cost $861,000 to repair the dam.)

Last fall, the lake appeared to be at full pool. There were no bare spots in its upper reaches away from the dam. The state park received notification from the state Department of Environmental Protection and began withholding water to fill the lake last January. It was not long after that fishermen began swarming in.

All this is making Ted Van Buskirk, who operates the boat concession at Gouldsboro State Park, pretty happy.

"Weekends have been real busy," Van Buskirk said, sitting comfortably under an extended tarp by a line of waiting boats. "But there is plenty of room on weekdays."

When Gouldsboro was drawn down, it was not completely emptied. Instead, a sizeable pool remained at the lower end of the lake, below the level of the needed repairs. Many of the lake's fish simply moved down to this reduced area.

Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is restocking the Gouldsboro Lake with a variety of game fish species, including bass. The PFBC also lists golden shiners and spot-tail shiners in its stocking plan.

Van Buskirk said anglers were already catching good numbers of bass last summer.

"A lot of guys are catching and releasing fish, and that's good for the future," he noted. "Some good bass about 14 inches long have been taken."

Van Buskirk said he has watched the PFBC add 3,150 fingerling bass to the lake.

Owning the boat concession stand, and being an avid fisherman, Van Buskirk notices where the best angling is taking place on Gouldsboro.

"I tell guys to start at the upper end (opposite the dam) and fish around the island and all the stumps around the island. That area is especially good for bass."

Another hot area is toward the far shoreline, opposite the concession area.

"There's an old ice house wall down there. It comes out 30 feet from the point and is only six inches under the surface," Van Buskirk said.

As the season warms up, Van Buskirk recommends working the channel down the center of the lake.

"The cove on the other side of the beach has rocks and stumps and is also good for bass. Get there before the sun beats down on that side of the lake and you could get into some good bass," he noted.

At Gouldsboro State Park, gates with signs indicate that the park closes at sunset, which would mean no after-dark fishing. Van Buskirk maintains this isn't so.

"Despite what the gate signs say, fishing here is open all night. We have quite a few guys who night fish. They put up the signs because there's been some vandalism," he said.

The boat concession is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Van Buskirk's most popular craft for fishermen is an aluminum boat with an electric motor. No gas motors are allowed. He also sells worms and when I spoke with him, he was tossing crayfish on a baited hook.

To rent a boat with electric motor costs $25 the first hour and $5 for each additional hour.

Bait and tackle may also be purchased at J&C Bait and Tackle in the village of Gouldsboro on Route 507.

For addit

ional information, contact the state park through the nearby Tobyhanna State Park office at (570) 894-8336.

Gouldsboro Lake is minutes from Interstate Route 380 off the Gouldsboro exit. I-380 connects I-84 and I-80. Gouldsboro State Park is about a 45-minute drive from the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area and is about an hour from Jim Thorpe.

BELTZVILLE LAKE
When it comes to springtime bass, good fishing may be found at both ends of Beltzville Lake. The upper end of the 947-acre impoundment, where Pohopoco Creek forms a twisted bay, will warm up first.

However, the Carbon County lake also has a substantial smallmouth population, and Beltzville's lower end, around the dam, offers the best action for springtime smallies. Smallmouths tend to like deeper, cooler water, and that's what these bass find around the dam.

For largemouth action, an angler should concentrate in the area north of Preachers Camp ramp. That access is the uppermost boat launch and is on the doorstep of Pohopoco Creek.

Substantial rock cliffs line the ramp shoreline (where a preacher actually once held services, thus its name) and the rock tends to warm up quickly and impart a glow to the adjacent water. Bass hunt for crayfish in the underwater rock face. Also, the area by the first hard bend in the bay arm can be hot. Lily pads and other topwater vegetation will soon be coming to the surface in this zone.

Downlake, the steep face of the dam belies the sharp and sloping bottom contour underneath the towering rock face. The rocks attract smallies like magnets. And, speaking of towering, there is a substantial tower with its large round foot out about 20 yards from the dam. The base of this tower and the rocks beneath it also attracts smallmouth.

Preachers Camp ramp is five miles from the Pennsylvania Turnpike off Route 209. The turn is made at a large Y at the intersection with the Sunoco station. The north side ramp is on Pohopoco Drive following the sign after crossing the outflow waters of Pohopoco Creek. Instead of coming all the way downlake from Preachers Camp ramp to fish the dam, use the ramp at Pine Run on the opposite side of the lake.

For more information, call the state park at (610) 377-0045.

TUSCARORA LAKE
Expect bass fishing to come on slowly in spring at Tuscarora Lake. But as other eastern impoundments lean toward their summertime doldrums in late spring, this 96-acre lake will be coming on strong.

A lot of hopeful bass anglers go wrong when fishing Tuscarora Lake, because they don't pay attention to the impoundment's dominant forage. The lake is rich with spot-fin shiners that are 2 to 4 inches in length. Imitate this natural food in white or silver and your success rate should increase. During the times of the yellow perch shoreline-migration for spawning, switch your bait colors to perch hues.

Tuscarora Lake has a surprisingly abundant population of largemouth bass because it is not thick with vegetation. However, the bass will not bowl you over with their size. Expect to catch a bunch of 12- and 13-inch largemouths here.

Tuscarora Lake allows only electric motors, but this thin impoundment is easy to traverse. Bass anglers should initially concentrate on the lake's upper end, where Locust Creek makes its entrance. This area is the shallowest and weediest part of Tuscarora Lake; however, the substantial shoreline indentations on the park-office side of the lake also hold good spring promise. Also, look to the waters outside the swimming beach to offer warm-day action.

Tuscarora Lake is northwest of Tamaqua off Route 309. From the south, pass through Tamaqua on Route 309 and look for the state park signs as the road climbs its first hill. Turn left and follow the winding Locust Creek to the park grounds.

For more information, contact the state park office at (570) 467-2404.

PROMISED LAND LAKES
If you don't like the springtime bite on one lake in Promised Land State Park, hop across the street and go to the other lake. With both Lower Lake and Promised Land Lake, often called Upper Lake, contained in the 3,000-acre park, you can take your pick.

Of the two impoundments, Lower Lake is my first spring choice. At 173 acres, it is generally shallower and weedier -- two attributes, which mean the fishing will turn on early.

Also, Lower Lake is stocked with spring trout and some of these fish don't make it to anglers' hooks before they're gobbled by some of Lower Lake's biggest bass.

Lower Lake has lots of stumps at its most northern end and these are good for springtime bumping.

Lower Lake holds two ramps. One is off Bear Wallow Road and provides access to the main body of the lake. The second ramp is below the Beechwood campground area and services a long arm on the western end of the lake.

When it comes to springtime bass, good fishing may be found at both ends of Beltzville Lake.

A substantial cove, which starts near the ramp, will develop weedy cover first and a long, low stone bar near the neck of this section will also warm up many bass. The uncut moss flats along the neck shorelines provide action for anglers who can pitch or flip lures beneath the shelving banks.

Promised Land Lake (Upper Lake) is a lake of another color, literally. At 422 acres, its overall hue is not close to the more tannin stained waters of the Lower Lake, though Upper Lake certainly has pine tree leaching. I once took a sample of water from each for comparison and there was certainly a shade of difference.

With less bottom structure, the bass on Upper Lake are roamers rather than cover-oriented. Until the weeds get going, expect to find more Upper Lake bass around structure such as the unconnected creek channels, the points around Conservation Island and the long peninsula at Pickerel Point, and its opposite shore number, Ridgefield Point, where there is a boat ramp. A ramp at the eastern end of the lake, near the Deerfield Campground, serves the big bays and also the mouth of Big Inlet creek in the center of the eastern shore.

Promised Lake State Park is 10 miles north of Candensis along Route 390. Also, take Exit 7 off I-84 for Route 390. The park is about 30 minutes from the eastern shore of Lake Wallenpaupack.

For more information, call the park office at (570) 676-3428.

LAKE NOCKAMIXON
The 1,450-acre lake in northern Bucks County has been and remains the best overall bass fishing lake in the eastern side of the state.

As spring heats up, it's possible to have a 20-fish day on Lake Nockamixon, with 4- and 5-pounders and better a real possibility.

Lake Nockamixon can be a hot fishery at this time of year. The bl

ack bass on Lake Nockamixon is the largemouth, but don't neglect its hefty smallies, found mostly in the deeper, lower end of the lake.

The upper parts of Lake Nockamixon are weedy and so are its numerous large bays, including Tohickon Creek and Haycock Run bays. Try the northern shore between the fishing pier and the sailboat marina when the weeds start to grow.

Haycock Run bay is at the eastern end of the lake. On one side of Rotue 563, the bay is a shallow area, but after crossing under the bridge, the bay becomes much deeper. An excellent weedbed usually forms on the eastern shore.

Lake Nockamixon's southern shore, particularly the area west of The Three Mile Run boat launch and the area below the cabin colony, can also grow spring weeds and hold spring bass. When bass are holding near stumps, this same area can produce.

Lake Nockamixon is east of Quakertown. From Route 309, take Route 313 to Route 663. There is a 20-horsepower limit on the impoundment.

For more information, contact the state park office at (215) 529-7300.

For additional fishing information on spring trout waters across Pennsylvania, including maps and special regulation listings, contact the PFBC office in Harrisburg at (717) 705-7800, or try www.fish.state.pa.us.

For travel information, call (800)-VISIT-PA.

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