Pymatuning Reservoir a walleye fishing factory for anglers

Straddling the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania, Pymatuning Reservoir has long been a favorite of Buckeyes and Keystoners who fish for walleyes, bass, crappies and muskies.

Pymatuning has a well-deserved reputation as a fish factory, but its 20-horsepower outboard motor limit serves as a deterrent for many anglers who would love to fish there. Those of us with outboards pushing out more ponies than the limit often opt to fish elsewhere.

For a variety of reasons, it had been a couple of years since I had fished at Pymatuning. So it was without hesitation that I said yes when fishing buddy Ron Learn invited me to join him last week for a day of bass fishing.

Learn gets a lot of fishing time on Pymatuning. He lives in northern Trumbull County, just 30 minutes from the Ohio-side boat ramps and operates a 16-foot Carolina Skiff pushed by a 9.9-hp Nissan outboard. His set-up is perfect for him to scratch the itch to wrestle fat and feisty largemouths from Pymatuning’s extensive lily pad fields and 70 miles of toppled tree- and stump-littered shoreline.

Our fishing day dawned clear and cool, with the kind of sunrise that promises lots of bass. We launched and motored across the north end of the 17,000-acre reservoir, our optimism brimming as we closed in our first fishing spot.

Pymatuning has recently been named one of America’s top 100 bass lakes by Bassmaster Magazine. It is famous for its top-shelf walleye fishing and produces numerous husky muskies every year.

Something magic happens when anglers set forth on a lake known to be a productive fishery. The magic was bubbling over as Learn cut the outboard and deployed his electric trolling motor to ease down a rock-and-brush bank while casting soft plastic tubes.

It didn’t take long for the first fish to show up. Barely 50 feet from our starting point, Learn stuck the hook into a powerful fish that thrashed in protest as he wrestled it from the viny brush. The bass was a remarkable specimen with perfect coloration and a bulky body weighing more than four pounds.

It was a fish that would set a positive vibe for any bass angler. And it set the tone for the rest of the day as we teamed up to bring more than 20 largemouths to the boat. Five of them were in the four-pound class and all of them were “keepers.” All were released unharmed.

The fishing was good enough to provide the opportunity to experiment. When you know the fish are out there, it’s a good idea to try different lures to gain experience in teasing bites.

We caught bass on four different kinds of lures and techniques: flipping and pitching soft plastics, dragging a weightless twitch worm, swimming a jig, and casting and winding bladed jigs.

Formed by damming the Shenango River in 1931, Pymatuning is an old lake with a long history of providing thrills for generations of anglers.

Learn capped his day with one more four-pounder as we wrapped up the fishing within sight of the boat ramp. It was the perfect punctuation mark on a great day of Pymatuning fun and fueled the conversation on the happy drive home.

It also was the teaser to lure us back as soon as possible.

Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” is a collection of stories that explain why anglers love fishing. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.


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