By Capt. Steve Chaconas
Finding waters undisturbed by other boaters may seem a dream, but the feeling of private pond fishing has survived the floods and expansion of a 100-year-old fishery in Pennsylvania’s mountains.
The Raystown Lake Region of the Alleghenies, a not-so-hidden jewel of a spot, has even more to offer fishing-focused families.
In no particular order, America’s only all-water cavern and wildlife park, Penn’s Cave and the preserved underground world at Lincoln Caverns beat waiting in line at the movie theater!
Indian Caverns offers more than a peek into American Indian Heritage…
There are motorcycle tours to historic sites and unbelievable views…
And bicycle routes!
Ride the East Broad Top Railroad through the Aughwick Valley.
And the Swigart Antique Auto Museum also features a “modern” relic – “Herby the Love Bug.”
Nature trails from environmentally educational old loggers trail more birds of a feather than could possible flock together.
These great activities are all anchored by the Raystown Lake!
Boasting 30 miles of navigable water and 118 miles of natural wooded shoreline on 21,000 acres of undeveloped land, Raystown Lake is the only Army Corps flood control project in the U.S. kept at a permanent recreational level.
Treetops left underwater at safe levels and other fishing cover remain intact longer, making fishing more consistent. The Army Corps has been conducting structure placement days in coordination with the habitat management plan and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
There are also catfish spawning boxes and different structures to promote recreational fishing.
Raystown Lake is home to some of the largest fish in the state. Striped bass are the lake’s premier attraction, with the Pennsylvania State record at 53 pounds landed there.
It’s not uncommon to get five-pound smallmouth and black bass, muskie over 25 pounds, walleye in the 7-8-pound class, and lake trout up to 10 pounds are often caught as well!
Crappie, catfish, carp, and occasional brown or rainbow trout can be caught too.
Raystown Lake was named by Field & Stream as one of “America’s 25 Hottest Fishing Spots.”
Whether fishing the deep clear waters at the base of cliff formations, or shallow water bassing over submerged aquatic vegetation, Raystown will keep you on line with fish all day. Nearby rivers and streams also offer fly fishing opportunities.
Raystown visitors choose their own experience in the outdoors at the Lake Raystown Resort and Lodge.
Families or groups can set up camp at campsites, RV hookups, rustic cabins, or the lodge suite which comes complete with handmade wooden Amish furniture, a king size bed, plasma TV, and Jacuzzi.
Retail stores, a water park, a boat launch, and a full-service restaurant offers all the conveniences of home.
Weekends in April thru October feature themed events from Elvis impersonators to bubble gum blowing contests.
A 22,000 square foot conference facility enables the lake to entertain guests year-round—weddings, family reunions, church gatherings, and other occasions are celebrated.
The sights and the accommodations make Raystown a worthwhile fishing trip for the whole family. Not nearly overcrowded, the Raystown experience caters to nearly 1.5 million visitors yearly. Each one made to feel at home.
Generations have left the lake and generations have returned to share it. For a century, locals were heard to say, “Meet me at Raystown!”
Today, visitors say, I’ll come back to Raystown. (www.raystown.org)