While the majority of the summer migration sees Pennsylvanians heading east to the Jersey Shore or DELMARVA beaches, Lake Marburg in York County, PA is a fantastic early summer destination for coastal anglers looking to head west. Situated within Codorus State Park, this 1,275-acre lake provides fishing opportunities that are well worth the trip.
Early season fishing at Lake Marburg is lunker time for some very impressive specimens of largemouth, smallmouth and muskies. As the water begins to warm throughout the season, hybrid striped bass, bluegills, catfish, crappie, yellow perch, walleye, and white perch join the party. In fact, white perch are so abundant that the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission displays posters that ask anglers not to return them to the lake.
The trophy bass and muskie that inhabit Lake Marburg just love to feed on white perch. These apex predators have unlimited forage of up to 6 to 8 inches in length. My first muskie from this waterway measured well over 40 inches, while my son caught a largemouth bass last season that broke the 10-pound mark.
Lake Marburg has some 26 miles of shoreline and depths of 80 feet in some areas. Trophy fish will venture into predictable shallow areas by the middle of May, depending upon how quickly water temperatures increase. In the spring, boat anglers should focus on wind sheltered coves that dot the lake’s shoreline. Coves that have a gradual depth transition from very shallow to deeper water are ideal. Look for coves that have these features plus sunshine and some cover, such as boulders, sunken trees, or bushes. As waters continue to warm through the summer months, rely on your electronics as you work the deeper, cooler waters.
Although there is plenty of shoreline access, the best bet is to fish from a boat and there are boat launches at several locations along the lake. Motors up to 20 horsepower are permitted.
Cast right up to the shoreline and slowly work lures back to the boat. Try to cover as much ground as possible but be sure to execute casts from all sides and angles when you encounter the right kind of cover. Casting parallel to shore in 1 to 3 feet of water can also be a very productive approach.
In order of effectiveness, deploy soft plastics, spinners, and stick baits. Senko Worms, Flukes, and Lizard patterns between 3 and 6 inches, rigged Texas style with a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook will do the trick. Offset shank, extra wide gap, or hybrid style hooks will work equally well. Reel soft plastics in very slowly with lots of soft twitches. Stop reeling in all together two or three times during each retrieve. Traditional gold and silver Mepps Aglia Spinners up to a half-ounce will also work well, also retrieved slowly while still keeping the blades spinning. Floating or intermediate sinking stick baits up to 6 inches such as Rapalas and Yo-Zuris are also a good choice in varied retrieves.
A medium spinning or baitcasting outfit with a 7-foot or so rod and 20-pound braid will do the trick. If you are set on landing a muskie, adding a 6-inch length of black wire leader via a barrel swivel at the end of the braided line is a good idea.
Bring the family and stay the night at one of many well maintained and reasonably priced campsites. RV sites, cottages, and primitive camping sites are all available. The scenery at the park is gorgeous and there is little competition for fish or campsites early in the season. Remember that the key to this early season fishery is putting in time, doing lots of casting “in the zone”, and hanging on for a few knockdown, drag out fights on the end of your line.