Fishing tournament safety measures at Raystown Lake

In an effort to increase visitor safety, minimize traffic congestion and provide safe access for emergency vehicles at boat ramps during peak recreation season at Raystown Lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, requests that fishing tournament directors schedule the start and end times of their tournaments outside of peak capacity weekend hours, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, between Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends, when first-come, first-served boating traffic is heaviest. For example, a tournament could begin at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., or begin at 4 p.m. and end at 1 a.m., or begin at 1 a.m. and end at 9 a.m., etc.

Tournament directors wishing to schedule their activities, such as launch times, weigh-in’s, and prize distribution, during peak capacity hours will be required to follow the established safety measures that will assist in mitigating the impact of their event on other lake users who will be accessing the same areas. 

Project staff will continue to evaluate permit applications on a case-by-case basis and will contact tournament directors to discuss alternative scheduling options. Tournament directors may be asked to meet special conditions for tournaments that cannot be scheduled outside of peak capacity times.

The 2024 tournament season will serve as an evaluation period to allow project staff and tournament directors an opportunity to evaluate and refine existing procedures in the future.

Raystown staff would like to encourage all boaters using the public launches during the summer recreation season to plan ahead by having boats loaded with all gear and equipment needed for a fun and safe day on the water before they approach the boat ramp. This will ensure more efficient use of the facility and assist with relieving traffic congestion. 

Permitting Info

Fishing tournament organizers must apply for a permit through the PA Fish and Boat Commission. As a waterways management authority, PA Fish and Boat Commission issues tournament permits at Raystown Lake. USACE, as the primary land management agency, may approve/disapprove these requests in accordance with special use activities requirements found in USACE Recreation Operations and Maintenance Guidance and Procedures, Engineer Circular 1130-2-550 Chapter 9. 


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 What if I want to fish during peak capacity hours but I am not part of a tournament?

This only applies to organized fishing tournaments that occur during above-named peak capacity times. Recreational anglers wishing to use launches during peak capacity time periods will continue to have unrestricted launch access on a first-come, first-served basis.

 Who should I contact for additional information? 

For more information, please contact the Raystown Lake Ranger Office at (814) 658-3405 or the PA Fish and Boat Commission Southcentral Office at (717) 486-7087 or

 What data was evaluated by USACE staff when determining fishing tournament fishing hours? 

Raystown Lake had 85 boat launch capacity days in 2023, with most traffic congestion occurring during peak visitation hours/days at popular launches, including James Creek, Aitch, Shy Beaver and Seven Points. We host an average of 111 organized, registered fishing tournaments per year. In 2023, Raystown hosted 125 tournaments, 29 of which occurred during peak visitation hours. 

 Why are these fishing tournament safety measures necessary?

This change is intended to increase visitor safety by attempting to reduce traffic congestion at boat launch facilities during peak visitation hours. Ultimately, the goal is to improve emergency vehicle access to the launches and reduce launch wait times. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Raystown Lake
6145 Seven Points Road
Hesston, PA 16647

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