The weather has been extremely unstable here in Pennsylvania so far this year. While this has sometimes been creating some difficult fishing conditions, it's also been allowing for unique fishing opportunities!
Lake Nockamixon - Quakertown, PA
The fishing on Lake Nockamixon started out super hot this year and there's no sign of slowing down yet! The water temperatures in Lake Nockamixon have yet to stabilize over 60 degrees. Average water temperatures right now are between 53 -57 degrees. This is rather unusual for the lake in mid May. Usually by now temperatures would be past 60 degrees and the fish would be up spawning on beds or even beginning their postspawn patterns by now.
Almost all fish that are being caught right now are still prespawn. The average size of fish caught has decreased now that the greater population of fish (Including the smaller males) have moved up shallow in preparation to spawn. The average depth of fish caught is 3' - 7' deep. The biggest bass caught over the past month weighed just over 5 lbs while the average bass being caught weighs about 3.5 lbs right now.
Water clarity in the middle of the lake has been very clear or lightly stained while the southern and northern end of the lake are stained or become murky after heavy rains come through. It seems the fish have been biting best when the water is lightly stained rather than very clear. In very clear conditions, fish have been biting best during times of the day with lower light (i.e. early morning, evening, etc.).
Key cover and structure that is currently holding fish seems to be any unique features within 2' - 10' deep. Now that vegetation is starting to grow, we are finding a lot of largemouth in and around the grass. Smallmouth seem to be relating mostly to hard cover like laydowns and rocks.
Key baits have been 1/4 oz Menace Jigs and Texas Rigged soft plastic worms. I'll take my bait and flip it right into the grass, right into the laydown, or right at the edge of trees and bushes and let the bait free fall on a slack line until it reaches the bottom. If a fish hasn't eaten it on the initial drop, I'll pop it up once or twice and end the cast and move on. I have also been catching fish by working reaction baits like chatterbaits, swim jigs, and shallow diving crankbaits through shallow submerged grass.
With warmer weather coming in the future forecast, I would expect the bite to really start heating up on Nockamixon over the next month. Bass are going to continue moving shallow and the greater population of fish will start spawning.
For a side note, the musky have moved up shallow in the grass to spawn as well! On a fishing charter in early May, my client hooked, landed, and released a 42" pure bread musky on a texas rigged crayfish.
Blue Marsh Lake - Leesport, PA
The fishing is continuing to heat up at Blue Marsh Lake as water temperatures have finally passed 60 degrees! Almost all fish that are being caught right now are still in their prespawn phase. The quantity of fish being caught per fishing trip has been superb - It's not been uncommon to catch over 20 fish per trip on our outings!
However, the size of the fish has not been as impressive as the quantity. The average sized bass being caught right now is 1.5 lbs while the biggest caught over the past month weighed in at 3.75 lbs.
The bass have mostly moved up into shallower water in preparation to spawn soon. Most fish are being caught in 4' to 10' deep right now. We've mostly been catching smallmouth bass compared to largemouth bass since the lake's massive population of smallmouth has moved up shallow. Plus, water clarity seems slightly less stained than usual and has been creating excellent smallmouth fishing conditions.
Key baits have been shad imitations such as crankbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits. I'll work these baits in shallow to medium depth prespawn staging areas and intercept bass as they're moving up shallow. I've also been catching fish on these baits in shallow spawning areas and we've seen a couple fish that show signs of bedding and spawning. While we have been catching a couple fish on finesse baits, the reaction bait presentation has been prominent.
Since the water temperatures are above 60 degrees already, I believe most bass will start spawning over the next couple of weeks if they haven't started already. The bite will be very hot before and during the spawn but could get a little bit funky after the bass finish spawning for a short period of time.
Beltzville Lake - Lehighton, PA
While some bass have been seen moving up shallow on Beltzville Lake, most fish are still being caught in mid-depth prespawn staging areas as water temperatures have yet to stabilize over 60 degrees. Average water temperature at Beltzville appears to be 53 - 58 degrees.
The average size of bass caught has been about 2.5 lbs. The biggest bass caught so far this time of year has been about 4 lbs. The average number of fish caught per trip has been between 3 to 10 fish per trip.
The bass (Along with pickerel, walleye, and stripers) have been feeding very heavily on small baitfish such as alewives. Therefore, lures that resemble small baitfish have been key recently. For reaction baits, small crankbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits have been working well. For targeting bass that have already moved up shallow, drop shots, finesse jigs, tubes, and ned rigs have been getting bit too!
Largemouth bass have been found on rocks, laydowns, and submerged vegetation. We have been finding smallmouth very frequently holding to offshore timber and stumps as they prepare to spawn soon. Striper and walleye have moved up shallow to the same areas bass are currently moving to which creates fun multispecies fishing opportunities!
As the weather continues to warm over the next month, the greater population of bass should all be shallow to spawn. Therefore, I believe the bite on Beltzville is just going to keep getting better in the near future.