The Great Outdoors: Kayaking on Kyle Lake

6:28:16 kyle lakeOn Saturday, I opted to put my little kayak on Kyle Lake, and it proved to be a pretty interesting journey.

Kyle is located outside of Falls Creek in Jefferson County. It spans more than 150 acres, so there is room for about 15 to 20 boats at any given time.

I got a late start and wasn’t on the water until 8. I think the beagle knew I was going to go out without her, so she tried to sabotage the mission by getting me up at 4 for a drink of water – something she rarely does!

I probably would’ve been better off just to stay up and get out there. Even though it is light out shortly after 5, I really wanted a bit more sleep, so I took it. After all, I wasn’t tournament fishing.

One of the neat things about the lake is that gas-powered motors aren’t allowed to be used there. Electric motors are allowed. That means wake-free fishing and boating for canoers and kayakers. If there was one thing about my late arrival, I didn’t have to wait to get going.

As I surveyed the lake, I decided to head for the opposite shore, mainly because there were few boats there. With a slight – and occasional – breeze behind me, it was just right to line up parallel to the shoreline, about 15 to 25 yards off.

What I was trying to do was fish the edge of the tall grass that grows in great volume in the lake. With photosynthesis doing its job, the grass can get pretty thick in the shallow water. It can be fished, but I prefer the edge of the grass because that’s where baitfish are and, obviously, where bigger fish can be found.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years – on my own and while fishing with some pretty good area anglers – you gotta fish the edges. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an edge of a rock shelf, sandbar, or other structure, the fish are typically on the edges, and it’s also our best chance to catch them without losing too many rigs.

It didn’t take long before I got a strike and brought in a small black bass, maybe 7 to 8 inches long. I was throwing a 4-inch albino fluke on a 1/8-ounce jig head. I like tubes, as well, but I wanted to see how the fish reacted to the fluke.

Not long after, I picked up another black bass, about the same size. He performed a self-release while I recorded him, just the way I like it. Then, a smallmouth bass took the bait. It was maybe six or seven inches, but their fight always fools anglers into making us believe it’s a bigger fish, so it was a welcome catch.

A bit of time passed before my next hookup. There should have been a few more as I missed a few fish, but the last one was pretty memorable.

The fluke had barely begun to sink after my cast, and he hammered it. At first, I didn’t know if i was dealing with another feisty smallmouth or a bigger black bass. But, it became obvious it was a bigger fish.

As I got him closer to the boat, I had the bright idea of trying to video him as he broke the water; but, I had waited too long, and he was too close to me. While I fumbled with the camera, he made a strong swim under the kayak and broke the line.

I was a little annoyed, but the feeling quickly passed as I was happy to get a decent-size fish to take the bait. Kyle isn’t known for giving up too many big fish. It’s managed by the Pa. Fish and Commission under Big Bass regulations, which means if you want to take home a bass caught there; it must be 15 inches.

I don’t think this one was quite that long, but he was more than 12 inches, and the fight he put up was a treat.

I fished for about another half hour without much action and returned to near where I started, but the bite was done as the temperature rose, and the wind died down, so I packed it in.

As I was pulling my boat out, another angler cruised in, and we talked for a few minutes. He was on the water at first light, and he had done okay; however, his observations were what I figured: the bass aren’t monsters, but there are enough to catch and enjoy the action, which is what most people are looking for when they come to Kyle.

The Fish and Boat Commission has done two fish surveys in the last decade. They specifically targeted bass in 2006 and channel catfish in 2014-15.

In the catfish survey, the Fisheries Management Area 2 office used Pennsylvania-style trap nets set in the spring (May) and baited tandem hoop nets in the fall (September).

The catfish surveys showed okay numbers of channel cats and some pretty big ones, too. The largest they caught was 26 inches and 10 1/2 pounds.

Bluegills and black crappies were also in abundance and with good numbers of nice-sized fish, perfect for the pan or deep fryer.

One negative was the northern pike. While they didn’t catch many in the traps – a total of 17 in the spring and fall surveys – they ranged in size from 15 to 33 inches with nearly half being the legal size of 24 inches. Catching a big pike can be fun, but they aren’t picky about what they eat, and that includes bass.

In the bass survey ten years ago, night electrofishing was used on two different occasions in the middle and latter part of May to determine the size and numbers of largemouth bass. They checked 174 bass between three and 15 inches. Seventy-three were between three and nine inches, and 101 were between 10 and 15 inches. Three measured 15 inches, eight were 14, 16 were 13, and 23 were 12.

So, those numbers reflect my tiny sampling and that of the angler I talked with.

Another neat feature is the wheelchair accessible ramp.

And – don’t forget to check the regulations about fishing there!

The lake can be accessed by taking Exit 97 off Interstate 80 and traveling west on Route 830 through the town of Falls Creek.

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“The Great Outdoors,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, is a weekly blog by exploreClarion.com’s Scott Shindledecker. Plan you next outdoor adventure at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197 for more information.


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