Catching Big Largemouth in Western Pennsylvania

I really respect fisherman who can consistently pull big largemouth out my home State of Pennsylvania. Derek Stitt is a PA bass angler that does well fishing both tournaments and recreationally on some of the Keystone State’s big bass waters. All of us can learn from his experiences, which he took time to share with DockTalk365.com.

As a fellow PA fisherman, I am very impressed by the largemouth that you catch. Can you tell me the exact locations where you caught them? Just kidding. Seriously what are some of your favorite nameable PA waters and what makes them special to you?

Thank you! Pennsylvania is definitely overlooked for its Bass fishing but the Keystone state does offer some excellent bass fishing. The first lake on my list may not be a very nameable or a well-known waterway but it is my favorite. It is also special for me because it is where I landed my first Largemouth bass as a kid and it is also where my son caught his first Largemouth. I will add some information about this lake because it may not be known to many Pa anglers.

Loyalhanna Lake is 500 acre impoundment that is located in Saltsburg, PA, Westmoreland County. The lake has a lot of shoreline cover, however there is little to no vegetation so the fish relate to steep drop offs, wood and rock cover. There is an abundance of Largemouth bass as well as white and black Crappie. The lake also holds Muskellunge and Tiger Muskellunge.

The best time to get on the lake would be on the week days or early mornings because of the leisure boat pressure on the weekends. The lake is not very big and can get congressed in the key fishing areas. I believe there are numerous 6 plus pound largemouth in the lake. If you get the chance, head to Loyalhanna Lake for a great day of bass fishing.

I also like Allegheny Reservoir…Kinzua…which is located in Warren Pa. Kinzua holds both Largemouth and Smallmouth but is primarily a Smallmouth fishery. I listed this lake because it is one of the closest Lake where I can fish for those Smallies. Speaking of Smallies, Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay is the best spring fishing waterway in the state. The bay holds nice Largemouth Bass all year long and in May the Smallmouth Bass move in to the Bay to spawn.

Lake Raystown and Shenago Lake are also great waterways in Pennsylvania for big Largemouth Bass.

derek-s-02Pennsylvania isn’t always known for big largemouth bass. What are three keys to your success in consistently catching big largies?

Three keys to my success of catching big largies are research, time and patience. I spend my entire tournament off season, usually mid-September through November, fishing only two bodies of water and fish on weekdays when there is little to no fishing pressure.

I study my maps, using the Fishidy Application, and mark the deepest hole, closest creek channel main lake points and shoreline where I can find best structure/cover. I connect the dots and that is the section of lake I concentrate all my time on when I go out on the water. I fish slow and work the entire section thoroughly.

If I don’t locate any big bass in this section after two trips out I move to the next section I broke down on the map until I locate the bigger bites. I cover the open water with search baits lake a Strike King 6XD, 5XD or a 3 Series Crankbait or a Zman Chatterbait. I use a Zoom Tube “Green Pumpkin” fishing cover. Most of my bigger bites are on Tubes and Chatterbaits.

Overall, how has your 2016 been so far compared to other years?

2016 Started out strong for me with a lot of great fishing trips. I had an excellent spring fishing season, I caught some of the biggest bass in my life this year.

Summer has been a horrible downward spiral though. My work schedule changed and I wasn’t able to pre-fish before any tournaments which did not work well for me. I also haven’t had much time to get out on any local waterways for fun fishing either. However I did take a couple trips to Loyalhanna Lake this summer. I was able to locate a decent school of largemouth on both trips. I had two unbelievable days throwing a crankbaits at hungry schooling bass.

I am looking forward to the next two months of fishing. I am done with tournaments for the year and I can relax and work on finding some big bass and having a great time doing what I love to do.

13102421_1028768493868316_637398767_nYou took a trip to Florida earlier this year. Where did you go and how was that trip?

My parents have a winter home in Brooksville, Florida. We took a trip to Orlando for a couple days and then went to Brooksville for a week. I was able to fish several different lakes near Brooksville and Clermont Florida. The bass in Florida are unreal. My first bite was a 9 pound pig on a Rat L Trap and my second was even bigger on a Chatterbait. I also found an awesome wildlife reserve near Spring Hill Florida with 13 different lakes. There is no boat access and the wildlife reserve is gated so there is a nice hike to get to the lakes but all the lakes are loaded with big bass. My wife and I also took a trip out on the gulf for some snapper fishing. It was a great time.

You are a promoter of Fishidy. What can you tell us about this app and how you use it?

The Fishidy Website/App is the most advanced, location-based Application available for anglers to find fish, mark spots and stay up to date with fishing activity on your favorite waterways. I would say it’s similar to Facebook but geared towards anglers of all species. If you are on the lake and want to mark a spot you can open the app on your smartphone and go to the fishing map icon and it will find you on the lake so you can mark and save that spot for another time. Don’t worry if you want to keep other members from seeing your hot spots you can lock the spot so only you can see it on the map. I use the app when I am getting ready for a trip to a lake for the first time that year. I can go to the app and filter my search for largemouth bass and search my catches during that time of year to get an idea what area I should target that day. If I am heading to a body of water that I am not familiar with I can post on the activity page or on the waterway page asking for insight about the lake and where the fish are biting. Several guys with knowledge of the lake with give you pointers and try to help you out. It’s a great site ran by a great group of guys.

How often do you fish tournaments? And what has been the highlight so far this year?

I usually fish two tournaments per month starting in April through September. I fished a tournament on Kinzua this year in June. I only had 4 hours to pre-fish and didn’t have a chance to fish the lake all year. I studied my maps the day prior to driving up to the lake. I picked out 3 places to pre-fish. I fished little over an hour at all three spots and caught a decent amount of fish so I have a little bit on confidence in the plan for tournament day.

I had a tournament the week before in Ohio and struggled to get a limit and couldn’t handle another bad tournament. We were boat 38 I think and when we got to the first spot someone was already there. So I’m thinking here we go again, gonna be another one of those days when everything goes wrong. So we just stopped and started fishing about 100 yards from the point I wanted to start with. I threw a buzzbait for about an hour with no luck and started to get upset for waiting on that spot to open and started second guessing myself.

The other boat finally moved off my spot to the other side of the lake. I slowly work my way towards my spot throwing a SquareBill on my way there. Then it started, I hooked a nice Smallie. The bite was still good there. We hooked a few more there before moving on to the next spot. The next spot was the same in no time we were pulling more fish in on tubes and jigs. The fish were not big but they were decent size for the lake. We didn’t win that day, ended up in 9th place but it was just and awesome day of fishing.

What are three things that are on your list to get this off-season to get ready for the 2017 fishing seasons?

1. Blue Water LED lights

2. Minn Kota Talons

3. New Lowrance Electronics

There is a lot of good stuff in there that I am going to apply to my PA fishing and anyone can apply to fishing on lakes where it isn’t always easy to catch big largemouth. Thank you Derek for taking the time to do this for us. The rest of us can keep up with Derek’s fishing success on Instagram.

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