Pennsylvania Bass Fishing Spots

Kayak Bass Fishing Pinchot Lake with Jake Harshman

I am a kayak angler and Pinchot Lake is not far from where I live in Pennsyvlania. So, I quite selfishly wanted to find out how Jake Harshman does so well kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake. Jake provides all of us a lot of detail how he fishes this South Central Pennsylvania lake.

How long have you been kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake?

I started kayak fishing last summer, and I started kayak bass fishing Pinchot regularly in the fall.  I get out to Pinchot on average once a week but sometimes more often if I’m participating in online challenges.

What makes Pinchot a good lake to target from a kayak?

Pinchot is not huge so that makes kayaking there easy as far as getting around. Additionally, there is an electric motor only restriction so you don’t get a lot of recreational boaters there causing wake. 

There is good and bad to the size of Pinchot being small though.  It can get packed on the weekends, weekday evenings or when the Susquehanna River is unfishable.

What kayak are you using for kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake?

This is one of my favorite topics to talk about.  I love my kayak! I have an Old Town Predator PDL.  The Predator PDL is in my opinion the ultimate kayak fishing platform.  Its fast with pedals, super stable at 36 inches wide and carries a max weight of 550 pounds. 

This kayak has been a dream since I bought it.  It’s versatile to a certain extent in skinny water too.  It can be paddled with the right amount of strength and experience.  The only downfall I can think of with it is the weight. The kayak itself is 115 pounds.  But Old Town figured that out this year in their new Topwater PDL model which is the only pedal drive kayak on the market that is under 100 pounds.

What has been your best day kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake?

My best day kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake has been 91 inches.  My biggest fish ever taken out of there is 21 inches which was caught that day.  Pinchot has a ton of quality 15 to 17 inch fish in it.

That day was pre-spawn and cold and windy and raining.  When I say windy, I mean really windy. I probably shouldn’t have been on the water, no one else was.  It was 30 mph gusts that day, low 50’s and spitting rain/ice balls it felt like.  I stuck to the coves and ended up catching about 15 fish that day. 

I believe Pinchot fishes best when its high and slightly muddy.  I also have a firm belief in that bad weather is much better to fish that place in.  That could be because of little pressure/boat traffic too.  

Jake with a PInchot Lake Largemouth Bass
Jake with a PInchot Lake Largemouth Bass

The last time I fished Pinchot I had three boaters cut me off on a shoreline I was fishing and pull within casting distance. This lake can get pressured. How do you handle the fishing pressure this lake can offer as a kayaker?

I try to ignore stuff like that.  Most of the time if they are doing that, they aren’t catching fish.  I watch and see what they’re doing and at least change it up if we are doing the same thing to ensure I’m not giving the fish a re-run.  If it happens multiple times in one day.

I use the pedal drive to my advantage and continue to leap frog them until they realize they just aren’t going to win with their trolling motor, even on high. It’s good exercise for me! [sarcastic laugh] 

On a more serious note though, this can be problematic for Pinchot, especially on the weekends or holidays.  We as kayakers and boaters need to be more respectful of each other.  If you are going to cut me…say hi, talk about whats working or not working for you that day. Ask about how my day is going.  And be respectful, pay attention… if you’re coming up on me and see I’m fishing fast, don’t just cut directly in front of me. Give me some space. 

I had a situation on July 14th at Lake Marburg where I was in the closing minutes of a tournament on a very very tough day. I was power fishing to try to secure a limit.  I straight out told a boater, “I’m so sorry guys, I’m not normally this big of a d&#% but I’m gonna cut right in front of you because I’m trying to win this tournament.”  They laughed, I laughed and it was perfectly cool.  Now if I would have just zoomed right in front of them…there likely would have been words shared.

What do you consider your favorite 3 summer baits for kayak bass fishing Pinchot?

My favorites are easy…1. Buzzbait!  2. Spinnerbait  and  3. Bladed Swim Jig.  It’s no secret I like to fish fast.  It can make me or break me depending on the day and the fish.  But I have found that finesse fishing Pinchot has just never really panned out for me.

Pinchot is naturally stained/muddy.  Very much unlike the other two local lakes of Marburg and Redman which are very clear.  Pinchot has a lot of surface grass too.  It’s these reasons I like big, flashy loud baits.  Or a frog! Love Love Love frogs at Pinchot.

As we move into the fall, how do these baits change on Pinchot?

I honestly won’t change much in that I will still be throwing the Spinerbaits and Bladed Jigs.  The fish are gonna be feeding up for the winter so those are both good choices and I personally feel the bigger the better.  You may not catch as many fish but the ones you hook up with will make up for it.

Overall, what advice do you have for kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake?

Kayak bass fishing Pinchot Lake is funny because one side is grass and one side is rocks.  Best advice that can be given is find the side they are biting on that day and stick to it.  That is first and foremost.  Also, don’t follow all the boats to the grass every single day.  Sometimes… the fish in the grass are not biting.  Learn how to punch matted grass for the summer time giants.  Don’t be afraid to troll a crankbait in 20 feet of water in July and be sure to have white & chartreuse colors on hand! Always!

Jake at the Chesapeake Bay

What are some of your other favorite Northeast fishing spots?

Hands down my favorite body of water to fish that is within driving distance is the upper Chesapeake Bay.  Pick a launch, doesn’t matter.  The fishing there is incredible.  The bay has so many fish and they are giants!  It is the only place I’ve found where the largemouth fight like smallies. 

Close second to that is Presque Isle Bay in Lake Erie.  Giant Football Smallmouths that are heavy! Enough said! 

Lastly, don’t go far… throw a dart at the Susquehanna river and go explore it.  I have grown to love the fish in this river.  A buddy of mine turned me on to them this year and between the Susky and the Juniata, Smallmouths like I have never seen before! And good quality too!

Who are your current sponsor and pro staff companies?

Currently I am sponsored by Nate’s Custom Baits out of State College, PA,  BJ’s Custom Lures in Tennessee, Amphibia Eyegear, Woo Tungsten and TRC Rod Covers.

Nate’s has some really innovative baits.  He incorporated hair jigs into almost all his stuff.  It really gives it a different look that these fish aren’t used to, especially the river smallies.

BJ’s Customs has the hottest blades in the spinnerbait market.  His tomahawk blade spinnerbaits flat out catch fish in any water condition.  His bladed swim jig…it’s the JackHammer but better, and $5 instead of $20.

Amphibia Eyegear has outstanding polarization but the best thing about their glasses…they float!

And TRC Rod Covers, known as “the rod condom”, are pretty awesome too.  They can customize every aspect of the rod cover, labels, lanyards, length, colors etc. They also float!

Thanks Jake. Will be following on Instagram @pa.kayakbassin.