Pennsylvania Bass Fishing Spots

A Kayak Angler’s Guide to Fishing PA’s Blue Marsh Lake

Blue Marsh Lake Smallmouth Bass
Blue Marsh Lake Smallmouth Bass

Blue Marsh is located in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The Lake is slightly over 1,100 acres that is enjoyed throughout the year by water sports enthusiasts. Of course, here at DockTalk365, we are interested in only the fishing. So, I found an angler who loves fishing Blue Marsh Lake fishing and has unlocked some of its secrets for bass and muskie. Garrett Gincley is that fisherman. Garrett took time to fill us in on how he approaches the lake with the added feature of being a kayak angler.

Blue Marsh Lake is a notoriously challenging lake to fish in South Central Pennsylvania. Do you think it deserves that reputation? 

It can definitely be a challenging lake at times, but I think she gets a far worse reputation than she deserves. What makes the lake so challenging, in my opinion, is there is an abundance of bait fish in Blue Marsh for the predator fish to feed on. The predator fish can gorge themselves on alewives and other baitfish whenever they want to, they are literally surrounded by them. Add this to the fact that these fish have a very large area, tons of structure, and varied depths that they can migrate to depending on weather conditions, and it can make the fishing tough.

However, when the weather conditions are right, Blue Marsh can be one of the easiest lakes in the area to catch fish on. It can also be one of the toughest lakes to fish in the middle of our summer heat waves when the water temp gets into the mid 80s. The best thing an angler can do is put their time in and keep a fishing log. This was one of the best things I ever started. I keep a log of areas fished, lures used, fish caught, weather conditions, water temps, etc. I often go back to this log to see if any of my previous trips match the current weather conditions and build my plan from there. The challenge of Blue Marsh is what keeps me coming back.

What do you think is the biggest myth when it comes to fishing Blue Marsh?

I have heard the lake called “The Dead Sea” too many times to count. If you put your time in on this lake and learn the lake and how conditions affect the fishing, you will have far more days of catching quality fish than being “skunked”.

March and April are coming soon, what are your favorite pre-spawn techniques on the Lake?

Typically, in the pre-spawn the fish are very tight to cover and are beginning to work their way shallow getting ready for the spawn. I have had a lot of success with the wacky rig, neko rig, and ned rig during this time of the year. Most people throw the wacky rig with a Senko or stick style bait. Don’t be afraid to switch it up and try wacky rigging some of your other soft plastics. This is also a great time to catch Muskies!

Summertime brings recreational boat traffic, how do your strategies adjust to accommodate?

I tend to stay away from the lake on most of the Holiday weekends, or stick to just the no wake zone. When I do travel into the higher traffic areas in the summertime I make sure to have my YakAttack Visicarbon Pro so that I can easily be seen by other boaters. You have to be aware of your surroundings at all times and don’t put yourself in a bad position. If you see someone jet skiing or water skiing through the area you want to fish – pick another area. I also always wear my PFD while I am on the water. I see far too many people in kayaks on that lake that do not have them on, especially when the water is still cold!

Blue Marsh Largemouth Bass

Blue Marsh Largemouth Bass

How is the fall fishing on the lake as the water turns cold again and the skiers and jet skiers get off the lake?

The fall fishing is some of the best. The fish are feeding up and getting fat for the winter. There are many quality fish to be had. After the lake goes through the turnover, surface water becomes colder than deeper water, the fish will come shallow again. This is also when the lake level is lowered significantly exposing most of the structure on the shore line. It is a great time to get out and see what structure there is. If you have a Fish Finder equipped with GPS it’s also a great time to drop some waypoints on said structure to check out the following year.

What are your personal bests on Blue Marsh?

My personal best smallmouth bass of 19” was caught this fall along one of the rock walls on a crankbait. The water was getting cold, November, so the fish did not fight like it would have in the summer time…I’m not even sure it ever knew it was hooked. It felt like I was hung on a log or something – it was a sudden stop and felt like dead weight on the end of the line.

My personal best largemouth bass of 20” was caught last year in the spawn period at the end of April/beginning of May. I was standing up in my kayak cruising around the shoreline looking for bedded fish when I saw her. My first flip in with a 5/16oz Jig hit her right on the nose, I felt the bite and I set the hook. Next thing I know her 14” boyfriend comes up with my jig hanging out of his mouth. To say I was disappointed is an understatement! I left the area and came back about 20 minutes later. Again I flipped in and put it right on her nose. This time she backed up, loaded up, and swallowed my Jig. I quickly netted her, got a photo and measurement, and got her right back into the water!

My personal best musky was 32” and was caught on a War Eagle Spinner Bait…the best spinnerbaits there are…that I brought across the top of a very large submerged stump. She must have been following my bait and when it slowed down over the stump she grabbed it. I’m always leery about bringing muskies into my kayak because of how much damage they can do to both themselves, your rods and you due to them thrashing. So, I paddled to shore, landed her and got a quick photo and release.

Blue Marsh Bass on Hobie Kayak

Blue Marsh Bass on Hobie Kayak

You are an avid kayak angler. What are your reasons for kayak fishing? 

For me kayak fishing is the epitome of freedom. You sit much closer to the water as opposed to a boat and you also act as the motor. There is something so peaceful about the quietness of being in a kayak at sunrise as the steam rises off of the water with the only sound coming from the kayak cutting through the water.

Being that most kayaks are significantly lighter than boats it is easy to launch, it is easy to load and it is easy to lug around. Their quietness on the water even compared to a trolling motor allows me to get on top of many fish before they even know I am there. It also allows me to see a lot of wildlife that would have been scared away had I had a 250hp Mercury on the back of my boat. Although, there are days when having a motor would be nice to cover water!

Fishing out of a kayak forces you to be efficient with your spot selection and how you fish that spot. Because moving a far distance across the lake takes more time in a kayak I tend to pick apart a spot completely. I try to fish every square inch of a spot before I move on.

I am an avid catch and release fisherman and the health of the fish is my highest priority when out fishing. Because of this the Kayak Tournament style of Catch-Photo-Release really appealed to me. I currently fish the Kayak-Anglers trail as well as some of the KBF tournaments. I am on the Kayak-Anglers leadership team so if anyone is interested in learning more about kayak fishing tournaments in the area, feel free to reach out!

I honestly believe that fishing out of a kayak will turn you into a better angler. With all of the advancements in today’s kayaks you can take either approach of a very basic and simple kayak or have every gadget known to man on your kayak…I tend to fall into the latter category).

Looks like you fish out of several Yaks. What do you like about each of your kayaks?

I currently own a 2015 Hobie Pro Angler 12, a 2015 Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 and a 2016 Jackson Coosa HD.

My Hobie is my open water boat. I fish out of this boat 95% of the time that I am out there. The pedal drive allows me to consistently keep a 6-7mph speed and, because it is pedal drive, my hands are free to fish as I am moving and repositioning myself. The Hobie has more room and is more stable than any other kayak I have every fished out of. It is literally like standing on a dock to fish. The seat on the Hobie is by far the most comfortable seat in any kayak I have ever fished. However, this kayak does not excel in the shallow rivers that I fish. It is a barge to turn because of its width, and the pedal drive is not conducive to shallow, rocky rivers.

I originally bought the ATAK 140 to serve as my river boat for when I fish the Susquehanna and Schuylkill Rivers. It is a phenomenal all around boat that can perform well in lakes, rivers and bays. It is a little long at 14’ and is not as stable as my Hobie, although it is still easy to stand in this kayak. The sidewalls of the kayak are very low which helps with wind drifting and spinning in the wind (which can be one of the most frustrating things for new kayak anglers!). This kayak is currently going through the process of being sold because of my buying the Jackson Coosa for fishing on the rivers.

The Jackson Coosa HD is one of the best River Kayaks there is. It turns on a dime and is still very stable with a very comfortable seat. The reason I moved to this kayak for the Rivers over the ATAK was mainly due to length, and the deal I got on the Coosa! At 14’ the ATAK was about 2’ too long for me to comfortably navigate the rocky areas that I frequent on the river. The Coosa is much easier to correct quickly and swiftly so that I can make sure the hit the chutes between rocks correctly. What the Coosa lacks as an open water boat it more than makes up for as a River boat.

All of my kayaks have the elevated camp chair style seating. This is very important if you plan to be out on a kayak for most of the day. Being able to have your hips elevated over your knees and feet is very important to helping fatigue and comfort on the water. The seats also have a lumbar function that helps with comfort as well.

I saw on your page that you use Hollywood Hair Jigs. I just did an interview with them. What can you tell us about their jigs?

I found out about the Hollywood Hair Jigs through a tournament that I fished. They were a prize that was awarded to me that day and they quickly became a staple in my tackle box. I do not go on the water without having one tied on. I use their Bed Head Neds every time I am on the water as they are an absolute fish catcher, especially on the rivers. The hair jig in general is a very underrated and lost art within the fishing community. A quality hair jig can out produce any other bait on any day, but is especially effective in cold water.

One of the things I like the most about Hollywood Hair Jigs is that they are a local company who really cares about their customers. These jigs are handmade right here in our state by a guy named Josh who is incredibly passionate about making a quality hair jig for a great price. I have frequently had conversations with Josh about what I need and he always comes through. It is a great thing when you can reach out to an owner directly to ask questions and get an answer right away. I would strongly suggest anyone who has not tried his hair jigs to purchase some and get them tied on this year!

Who are your sponsors? 

For 2017 I am a part of the Team Ardent Pro Staff, Reel It In Baits Team, Zeko Shoes and Skoll Gear. With hopefully a few more to come.

What I love most about Ardent Outdoors is that they make a rod/reel for any level of fishing from the beginning to the tournament pro. Their rods and reels are some of the best priced on the market and are made to a very high quality. I currently own spinning reels in the Wire series, C Force Series and the Finesse Series. I also own a few of the Apex Grand, and Apex Tournament bait casting reels.

All of my rods are the Ardent Edge series which are a great rod for a great price. I fish anywhere from a ML to M spinning rod…I like my spinning rods on the lighter side…and M to MH casting rod.

Team Ardent is also a very close knit group of anglers that is always willing to help with whatever another Team Member needs. Something that I have come to love about Team Ardent is that you will not find our Pro Staff members bashing another rod/reel company – only respect is shown to these companies. This is something that you can easily see on any of the forums, or Facebook, from a number of Pro Staffers of other companies, and is something that I despise in a Pro Staff.

Reel It In Baits is a small soft plastic bait company out of Alabama. Their company is built on providing high quality, affordable, fish catching baits to the everyday fisherman. All of their baits are made right here in the USA, and they have some of the best colors and quality of any bait company out there. They will also work with you on custom colors, so if you have a bait in a color that you love that is no longer available and discontinued give them a shout. They will be able to match that color pretty closely for you!

I was also added to the Zeko Shoes Pro Staff. Zeko Shoes are an incredibly light weight, 5.5oz, durable, breathable and very comfortable shoe that’s great for kayak fisherman, boat fisherman and even bank fisherman. The shoe is designed so that water and sweat can drain out of the bottom of the shoe through a vented sole which also doubles to help keep shoe odor to a minimum…that’s important if you’re always putting your feet in the water! The shoes are also machine washable and fast drying, so your feet don’t stay wet all day. They are incredibly comfortable even without socks on – which also helps keep your feet dry. If you’re looking for a new pair of shoes make sure to check them out!

Recently I was added to the Skoll Gear Pro Staff. Skoll Gear Apparel is a new company that is offering sun protective high performance gear for the entire family, including men, women and youth. Skoll makes some very good looking gear that doubles to help you block those harmful UV rays from the Sun. If you’re like me and spend all day on the water you’re going to want some sun protection without having to reapply sunscreen all day, and make your hands slippery. I will always wear long sleeve shirts while I am out fishing, and on those hot days it is important to wear a shirt that is both protecting and breathable. Skoll Gear offers both of those things.

From this interview, I just have to say to Skoll Gear, Ardent Outdoors, Reel It In Baits and Zeko Shoes that you clearly made a great choice in sponsoring Garrett.  Great young angler who knows how to share his knowledge of fishing and represent your companies.

I will be following Garrett on Instagram. Check out his page to see his latest catch.

For All of Our Blue Marsh Lake Information and Interviews, check out the Blue Marsh Lake Fishing Page.