Best Fishing Spots in Pennsylvania

Waterfall in a river located in PA, a popular spot to fish.
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Pennsylvania, a state rich in natural beauty and outdoor opportunities, offers an abundance of fishing spots for anglers looking to enjoy a day on the water. With more than 83,000 miles of streams and rivers, alongside approximately 4,000 lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, you’re never far from a prime freshwater fishing destination in the Keystone State. The varied habitats support a diverse range of fish species, providing both the novice and the experienced angler with ample chances to make a big catch.

The state’s considerable waterways feature everything from quiet, cold water streams bustling with trout to the expansive 75-mile shoreline along Lake Erie teeming with bass and walleye. Whether you’re planning a serene solo trip or a bonding excursion with family and friends, Pennsylvania’s scenic water bodies cater to every fishing preference.



Presque Isle Bay

A lone fishing boat sits anchored in the distance of Presque isle bay.

When you set out to fish in Pennsylvania, Presque Isle Bay should be on your list with its ample opportunities for a diverse fishing experience. Located as an offshoot of Lake Erie, it boasts a mix of species that will excite both novices and seasoned anglers.

Species You Can Catch:

  • Black Crappie: Residents in the 9- to 12-inch range with larger specimens up to 16 inches.
  • Northern Pike: Particularly abundant early in the season, thrive in the bay’s shallow and murky waters.
  • Walleye: Notable for their large population, offering a rewarding challenge.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Praised for their size and fighting spirit, contributing to the bay’s reputation.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Ice Fishing: A popular method for crappie during winter months.
  • Angling: Effective for catching a variety of species throughout the bay.

Safety Tips:

  • Check ice thickness with an auger during winter; 4 inches for an individual and 7 inches for a small group is recommended.
  • Always have safety equipment on hand and know its proper use.

Hot Spots:

  • The northern shore formed by Presque Isle State Park
  • Southern and western shores offering urban fishing access

With a solid variety of fish and a park bordering its northern shore, Presque Isle Bay provides you with both natural beauty and urban convenience. Be sure to respect local regulations and seasonal guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable fishing experience.

Lake Erie

Calm waters, with fishing boats dotting the horizon. Lush greenery surrounds the lake, and a peaceful atmosphere envelops the scene

Lake Erie boasts some of the most productive fishing spots in Pennsylvania. Home to an array of game fish species, your experience at Lake Erie can be both diverse and rewarding.

Noteworthy Species in Lake Erie:

  • Walleye: Often the target for anglers due to their size and taste
  • Bass: Provides a challenging and enjoyable catch
  • Yellow Perch: Popular for their abundance and flavor
  • Steelhead: Offers a thrilling fishing battle

Central Basin Hotspots:

  • Ashtabula: Renowned for steelhead trout and walleye, with the Ashtabula River and harbor being particularly favored.
  • Cleveland: A go-to for yellow perch and walleye fishing off the waters.

When targeting walleye, be mindful of the size limit typically set at 15 inches to promote sustainability. Additionally, adhere to bag limits which dictate the number of fish you can keep daily.

In Presque Isle Bay, a part of Lake Erie, you have the chance to fish for northern pike in its shallow and dark, muddy bay, especially potent during early-season fishing.

Delaware River

When you’re looking to hook into some fishing action, the Delaware River is a prime spot in Pennsylvania. Renowned for its diverse species, you have the opportunity to catch brown and rainbow trout, as well as the occasional brook trout. These cold-water species thrive in the river’s clean currents stemming from the Catskill Mountains.

Prime Fishing Locations

  • Philadelphia to Bucks County: Find accessible fishing from land, with clear indications for family-friendly zones and other areas.
  • Core Creek Park, Langhorne: Ideal for a family outing, offering fishing alongside other recreational activities.

Fishing Seasons

March to May is a notable period, as striped bass migrate through the river. Sizes can vary significantly, with some reaching a hefty 50-60 lbs.

Fishing Tips

  • Early Morning or Late Evening: These are typically the best times for successful fishing on the Delaware River.
  • Safety First: Some spots may be less suitable for children or fishing alone.

Remember, the Delaware River offers more than historical significance; it’s a living, flowing resource for anglers seeking a memorable Pennsylvania fishing experience.

Raystown Lake

Your adventure into the rich angling environments of Pennsylvania would not be complete without visiting Raystown Lake. As Pennsylvania’s largest inland reservoir, Raystown Lake spans approximately 8,300 acres—an angler’s paradise nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of Huntingdon County.

Species: The lake boasts a diverse fish population. Here you’ll find:

Popular Fishing Spots:

  • Seven Points Area: Known for summer bass fishing; the surrounds provide excellent cover for fish.
  • Near the Dam: The breast of the dam is a hotspot, particularly in summer, when fish abound in these cooler waters.
  • Mile Marker 19-28: Especially in spring, this stretch is fruitful for various game fish.

Facilities:

  • Marinas: Equipped with boat launches and concession stands.
  • Campgrounds: For those seeking extended stays close to the action.
  • Picnic Areas: Enjoy a post-fishing feast with scenic views.
  • Trails: Combine your fishing trip with hiking for a nature-immersive experience.

To maximize your experience at Raystown Lake, consult local fishing guides and follow the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s regulations to ensure your fishing practices are sustainable and legal. Remember, the lake’s ecology is as rich as the fishing opportunities it provides.

Youghiogheny River

The Youghiogheny River, situated in the serene landscapes of southwestern Pennsylvania, stands as a prime fishing destination. Known for its diversity in fish species, the river provides a satisfying challenge for beginners and seasoned anglers alike.

Fishing Opportunities:

  • Season: Aligns with the general Pennsylvania trout season.
  • Peak Times: Spring is optimal, especially when water levels are stable. Summer offers continued success due to cold water discharges maintaining favorable temperatures.
  • Walleye Fishing: For walleye enthusiasts, the best conditions occur with water temperatures between 65-70°F. However, active fishing can still be enjoyed as temperatures rise above 35°F.

Understanding the Conditions:

  • Water Temperature: 50 to 75°F is ideal for most species in the river.
  • Scenic Backdrop: The picturesque setting amplifies the overall fishing experience.

The Youghiogheny River isn’t just about the catch; it’s about the experience of fishing amidst the beauty of Pennsylvania’s nature. Whether it’s the pursuit of trout or the thrill of hooking a walleye, this river caters to your fishing aspirations with its rich aquatic life and stunning environment.

Allegheny River

The Allegheny River is a prime destination for diverse fishing opportunities, spanning approximately 325 miles through Pennsylvania and a portion of New York. As an angler, you will find the river’s headwaters in Potter County, PA, before it reaches into New York and returns to Western Pennsylvania, eventually meeting the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River.

Best Spots for Fishing:

  • Northwestern PA: This region offers excellent fly fishing, with plenty of access points along the river.
  • Middle Allegheny: The 125-mile section is known for some of the best walleye fishing, especially during the spring season at the mouths of tributaries.

Target Species:

  • Smallmouth Bass: Look for areas with slower current, as they can even be found in shallow waters.
  • Muskellunge: The Allegheny has spots known for muskie fishing, primarily where the river meanders across PA.
  • Walleye and Sauger: These species are favorably targeted with lures around the Erie shoreline tributaries.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Casting: Using jointed Rapala and Rebel lures proves successful for walleye.

When you plan your trip to fish the Allegheny River, consider the season and the type of fish you’re aiming to catch, as conditions can vary throughout the year. Access is available in several towns along the river, offering both boat launches and shore fishing opportunities.

French Creek

French creek in PA, on a fall day.

If you’re an angler looking for a quality fly fishing experience, French Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania is a noteworthy spot. The creek offers a diverse range of fishing opportunities with its catch-and-release areas and an array of fish species ready to challenge your skills.

Uppermost Section:
Starting off Route 23, this stretch is known for nice water conducive to fly fishing. Take your time to explore this part for an enjoyable fishing experience.

Catch-and-Release Section:
There is about a mile of specially designated waters for fly fishing, beginning at the dam in Camp Sleepy Hollow. This particular area is managed with conservation in mind, ensuring the longevity of fish populations and maintaining a high-quality fishing experience.

Fish Species:

Among these, muskellunge and northern pike present a challenging catch, giving both novice and expert anglers a thrilling experience. Smallmouth bass and walleye are also popular targets in French Creek, known for their fight and the skill required to hook them.

Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack, nestled in Pennsylvania, stands as a top destination for anglers seeking a bountiful catch. Covering 5,700 acres with 52 miles of shoreline, this man-made reservoir is an essential spot for fishing enthusiasts.

Popular Fish Species:

Fishing Tips:

  • Early Season: Explore Mangan Cove near the dam.
  • Spawn Season: End of May to early June, bass can be found in various staging areas.

Notable Fishing Spots:

  • The Northern end, especially around the Wallenpaupack Dam, is renowned for its fishing opportunities.
  • The Ledgedale area offers fruitful catches as well.

When planning your fishing trip to Lake Wallenpaupack, be sure you’re equipped with the proper license and are aware of the fishing regulations in Pennsylvania to ensure a responsible and enjoyable experience.

Penns Creek

Fall foliage in Penns Creek PA,

Access Points: To reach the best spots, you might need to hike, providing a serene escape with less pressure from crowds.

Noteworthy Sections:

  • Trophy Section: Below Kinzua Dam, this 9-mile stretch is famous for its large brown trout, with catches up to 30 inches reported.
  • Spring Creek: Its recognition as a prime spring creek in Pennsylvania stems from its consistent flow and temperature, which support healthy trout populations year-round.

Fish To Target: Aim for the brown and rainbow trout. They are the creek’s stars and make for a challenging and rewarding catch.

Penns Creek isn’t heavily developed, which preserves its natural beauty but requires preparation as amenities may be sparse. Be ready for a true outdoor adventure where your angling skills are as important as your love for the tranquil ambiance of central Pennsylvania’s waterways.

Pine Creek Gorge

Crystal clear water flows through rocky gorge, surrounded by lush greenery and towering pine trees. A tranquil spot for fishing in Pennsylvania

Pine Creek Gorge is often celebrated as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Stretching nearly 50 miles and reaching depths over 1,000 feet, this breathtaking landmark is a haven for fishing enthusiasts. The gorge is carved by Pine Creek and offers an array of trout, bolstered by both natural populations and stocked fish.

When fishing at Pine Creek Gorge, you have the opportunity to wade in the shallows or cast from the banks. The water level can vary, so wading is best when the creek is low. You can also spot canoes and kayaks navigating the waterway, providing a dynamic fishing experience.

Fishing Seasons and Hatches:

  • Best Season: Spring
  • Stocked Fish: Primarily trout, with local clubs contributing to stocking efforts

The gorge is accessible from the town of Ansonia. The surrounding area not only promises an exciting fishing experience but also captivates you with its natural beauty. As you fish, keep an eye out for the abundant insect hatches that contribute to a rich food source for the trout. Whether you’re a seasoned fisher or a novice, Pine Creek Gorge provides not only a peaceful escape but also the potential for an impressive catch.

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