Best Shore Fishing in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania river valley, great for fishing.
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Pennsylvania boasts a rich tapestry of shore fishing opportunities, catering to anglers of all experiences. Whether you prefer serene riverbanks or bustling lake shores, you’ll find a spot that fits your fishing ambitions. With waterways well-stocked with a diverse range of species, from walleye to trout, Pennsylvania is an angler’s haven. The state’s natural diversity means that you can expect healthy populations of panfish, bass, muskellunge, and much more, providing not only a challenge for your fishing skills but also the chance for a rewarding catch. When you explore the state’s offerings, you may find yourself drawn to the calm waters of Presque Isle Bay or the flowing currents of the Susquehanna River. Presque Isle Bay, with its accessible piers and rich aquatic life, is renowned for its variety of fish, making it a perennial favorite. Meanwhile, the West Branch of the Susquehanna River offers over 100 miles of trout-stocked streams, ensuring an engaging battle with every cast

Presque Isle State Park

When you visit Presque Isle State Park, you are tapping into one of Pennsylvania’s premier shore fishing destinations. Surrounded by Lake Erie, the park offers an array of fishing opportunities for both novice and experienced anglers.

Good to Know:

  • Seasonal Availability: Fish species vary with the seasons, so check local fishing reports before you go.
  • License Requirements: A valid Pennsylvania fishing license is required.

Fishing Spots:

  • Waterworks & Ferry Dock: Ideal for family-friendly fishing with accessible facilities.
  • East and West Piers: These locations are well-known for yielding various fish species.
  • Lagoons: Calm waters suitable for beginners.

Target Species:

  • Summer: Expect to catch bass and perch.
  • Winter: Ice fishing can yield pike and crappie.

Fishing Gear Loaner Site:

Available at the Stull Interpretive Center, you can borrow fishing equipment if you don’t have your own.

Safety Tips:

  • Always check ice thickness if you plan on ice fishing.
  • Carry safety gear and know its proper use.

Lake Wallenpaupack

Situated in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Lake Wallenpaupack is a prime location for shore fishing enthusiasts. This man-made reservoir, built in 1926, spans 5,700 acres and boasts a significant 52 miles of shoreline, offering you an abundance of spots for casting a line.

When targeting smallmouth bass, aim for the areas where these fish measuring up to 18 inches congregate. Although largemouth bass are less common, they have been known to exceed 5 pounds, providing a worthy challenge. Recent increases in weed growth have improved habitats, aiding in a rise in largemouth bass populations.

For your fishing trip, consider these details:

  • Species: Apart from bass, the lake is home to walleye, northern pike, muskie, as well as panfish.
  • Shoreline Access: Easy to locate around the lake’s perimeter, enhancing your fishing experience.
  • Licenses: Fishing licenses are essential and vary in cost. A Pennsylvania resident can purchase one for approximately $22.97, while non-residents may pay about $52.97.

Delaware River

The sun sets over the calm Delaware River, casting a warm glow on the tranquil waters. The lush greenery on the riverbanks provides a picturesque backdrop for the perfect shore fishing spot in Pennsylvania

When you visit the Delaware River for shore fishing, you’re engaging with a dynamic and diverse ecosystem renowned for its fishing opportunities. In Pennsylvania, the river is well-regarded for smallmouth bass, noted for good catches especially around Zane Grey, Narrowsburg, and Smithfield.

The Delaware River also holds a reputation for its walleye and musky fishing. Your best bet for encountering these species is from the Lackawaxen River down to the area below Martin’s Creek.

Here’s a quick glance at what you can expect:

  • Smallmouth Bass: Look for spots around Zane Grey, Narrowsburg, and Smithfield for fruitful outcomes.
  • Walleye and Musky: The stretch from Lackawaxen River to below Martin’s Creek is known for being particularly abundant with walleye.

Before heading out, be aware that while many areas are family-friendly, some locations may not be ideal for solo or children’s fishing excursions due to safety concerns. Always do your research on current conditions and take precaution where necessary.

Raystown Lake

At Raystown Lake, you’ll find a premier fishing experience in Pennsylvania. This 8,300-acre lake is the largest lake completely within the state and offers a wide variety of fish species, granting you numerous angling opportunities.

Where to Fish:

  • Spring: Look between mile markers 19 and 28 for productive fishing.
  • Summer: The dam’s breast and Seven Points area are abundant with fish.

Targeted Species:

  • Striped Bass: Noteworthy for the state record catches. This lake holds larger sized striped bass.
  • Other Species: Muskie, Walleye, and a range of panfish.

Fishing Strategy:

  • Focus on the summer months near the dam or at Mile Marker 1 for beginners.
  • For serious Striped Bass fishing, try night fishing during summer when larger specimens are more active.


  • Facilities are accessible for all, with RidgeView Campground in close proximity for those looking to stay overnight.

Bear in mind that fluctuations in water levels can affect your fishing experience as Raystown Lake is a man-made reservoir. Keep an eye on the current conditions and adapt your techniques accordingly.

Pymatuning Reservoir

When you’re searching for some of the best shore fishing in Pennsylvania, Pymatuning Reservoir should be high on your list. This sprawling waterbody, extending over 17,000 acres, straddles the Pennsylvania-Ohio border and is the largest lake in either state.

Species to Target:

  • Walleye: Renowned for its walleye population, Pymatuning offers a noteworthy fishing experience, with specimens often reaching 15 to 24 inches.
  • Crappie: Small to medium sized crappie are plentiful and provide an enjoyable catch.
  • Muskellunge: Also known as muskie, they present a more challenging quarry, often found in the shallow waters in spring.

Here’s how you can make the most of your shore fishing trip to Pymatuning:

  • Gear Up: Use appropriate tackle for the fish you’re targeting. A medium-action rod works well for walleye and crappie, while a heavier setup may be needed for muskie.
  • Best Times: Fishing right after ice-out in March can increase your chances for walleye. Meanwhile, warmer shallows in spring are productive for muskie.
  • Accessible Fishing: Look for ADA accessible fishing access in the Jamestown Day Use Area, as well as piers at the Espyville and Linesville marinas.
  • License Requirements: Remember that a valid Pennsylvania or Ohio fishing license is acceptable when fishing by boat.

French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park is your go-to destination if you’re interested in a quality shore fishing experience in Pennsylvania. With the 68-acre lake and accessible fishing pier in the day-use area, the park caters to both casual anglers and those with disabilities. This lake holds the designation of a big bass lake, which means it adheres to specific regulations designed to protect and enhance bass populations.

Key Features:

  • ADA-Accessible Fishing Pier: Ideal for anglers with mobility challenges.
  • Big Bass Lake Regulations: Follow these to contribute to the bass fishery’s health.
  • Licenses Required: Anglers 16 and over must have a valid fishing license.

As you plan your fishing trip to French Creek State Park, it’s essential to remember that a diverse range of fish awaits. The water conditions are generally moderate to slow-flowing pools that become quite warm during summer months, leading to specific behavioral patterns in fish.

What to Expect:

  • Warm Water in Summer: Be prepared for potentially slower fish activity in hotter temperatures.
  • Moderate Flow: The creek’s flow is conducive to a relaxing and manageable fishing experience.
  • Potential Weeds: Lake Hopewell has had issues with weeds, affecting where and how you fish.

Before heading out, you might want to check on the current conditions at Lake Hopewell, especially concerning weed growth, to plan your strategies accordingly. Your experience can be enhanced with a boat, available for rent at the park, to access deeper waters and more varied fishing spots.

Success at French Creek State Park’s shore fishing often comes down to preparation and an getting used to the unique characteristics of the water and fish behavior. Happy fishing!

Susquehanna River

The Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania offers excellent opportunities for shore fishing. Standing as one of America’s premier smallmouth bass rivers, you can potentially reel in Smallmouth Bass that average 12 to 16 inches.

During warm periods, smallmouth bass move to deeper waters. Your best chance to catch them is either at sunrise or sunset. Here’s a handy table on what to expect:

Time of YearExpected Activity
SpringFish move to shallower waters. Prime for topwater lures.
SummerLook for deeper waters during heat. Consider drift fishing.
FallCooler water temperatures bring bass to feed in shallow areas.

In mid-June, after the spawn, consider drift fishing around large rocks for the chance at a fish close to 18 inches. Hiring a local guide can enhance your fishing experience, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the river’s nuances.

Clearfield County is known for a 10-mile stretch deemed one of the best spots for accessibility and abundance of smallmouth bass. Keep in mind that during the hot season, when average daily temperatures are between 80-85°F, smallmouth bass are particularly active, often going after topwater lures aggressively.

Fishing on the Susquehanna River can require local knowledge for the best success. Exploring with a guide or local anglers can offer valuable insights into the fishing patterns and behaviors specific to the continually changing ecosystem of the river.

Marsh Creek State Park

When looking for prime shore fishing in Pennsylvania, Marsh Creek State Park should be high on your list. This park is located in Chester County and boasts a 535-acre lake.

Species & Fishing Opportunities:

  • Largemouth Bass: Pursue the robust populations, noting the lake’s designation as a big bass lake.
  • Channel Catfish: Enjoy the thrill of reeling in sturdy fighting catfish.
  • Black Crappie: Perfect for anglers who enjoy the subtleties of crappie fishing.
  • Panfish: Bring variety to your fishing experience with these local favorites.
  • Tiger Muskies: For a challenging catch, targets these, with recorded lengths up to 40 inches.

Essential Regulations:

Be aware of specific rules for Marsh Creek Lake since it’s listed as a big bass lake. Regulations are designed to protect the fish populations and ensure a sustainable fishing experience for all.

Amenities for Anglers:

  • Boat Rentals: Contact Marsh Creek Water Sports for rental information.
  • Boat Launch Sites: Two main access points with concrete ramps and plenty of parking.

Your fishing trip to Marsh Creek State Park is bound to be memorable, thanks to its well-stocked lake and comfortable amenities. Whether from the shore or a boat, the park offers accessible fishing spots and an enjoyable outdoor experience for anglers of all levels.

Yellow Creek State Park

Calm waters of Yellow Creek State Park, with lush greenery and rocky shorelines perfect for fishing

At Yellow Creek State Park, you’ll find some of the best shore fishing opportunities in Pennsylvania. The park, which encompasses a sprawling 720-acre lake, is stocked with a wide array of warmwater game fish and panfish.

What to Catch:

  • Musky
  • Northern Pike
  • Crappies
  • Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass

Yellow Creek State Park caters to all anglers, including those with disabilities. An ADA accessible fishing pier is available on the north shore, ensuring everyone has the chance to experience fishing at this beautiful location.

Be aware that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s big bass regulations apply when fishing in Yellow Creek Lake.

Trail to Access:
For the best fishing trails, consider the Damsite Hiking Trail. Rated highly by visitors:

  • Trail Length: 3.9 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 370 ft
  • Rating: 4.2/5 stars (from 161 reviews)

Visit Hours:
The park is accessible every day from sunrise to sunset, and while the day-use areas close at dusk, make sure to check the exact hours for the park office if you need to reach out for assistance.

Allegheny River

When targeting smallmouth bass in the Allegheny River, you’re embarking on an exciting fishing venture in Pennsylvania. The river boasts a habitat suited for smallmouth bass, and as you explore its banks, pay attention to varying current speeds for the best spots. While fishing along the Allegheny, you might find that areas with slightly slower current than the surrounding waters can be incredibly fruitful.

  • Key Techniques:
    • Focus on spots with reduced current for smallmouth bass.
    • Don’t overlook shallow areas, as even ankle-deep water can yield sizable catches.

Seasonal Tips:

  • Spring: Look for pre-spawning fish in shallower waters.
  • Summer: Explore mid-river structures and deeper pools during warmer months.
  • Fall: Target transitioning fish as they move to wintering holes close to shorelines.
  • Winter: Fewer anglers, but persistence can lead to significant catches, especially near structures providing shelter.

Your gear should be versatile to adapt to different depths and current speeds. Moreover, you’ll find that fishing pressure in certain areas varies, so plan visits accordingly. Local guides familiar with the river can enhance your shore fishing experience significantly.

Fish Species and Habitat

Clear, tranquil lake with lush greenery along the shore. Various fish species swimming near the surface. Rocky bottom and fallen trees provide ideal habitat for shore fishing in Pennsylvania

When exploring the diverse shore fishing opportunities in Pennsylvania, you’re likely to encounter a variety of habitats teeming with different fish species. Understanding these environments and the fish that inhabit them can significantly enhance your fishing experiences.

Bass Varieties

Pennsylvania’s waters are a haven for bass fishing, with smallmouth bass and largemouth bass being particularly prevalent. Smallmouth bass thrive in the rocky habitats of rivers and streams, preferring clearer water, while largemouth bass are often found lurking in the weedy areas of lakes and ponds.

  • Smallmouth Bass: Rivers with rocky bottoms.
  • Largemouth Bass: Weed-rich lakes and ponds.

Catching Catfish and Panfish

You’ll find catfish and a selection of panfish, such as bluegill and crappie, in various Pennsylvania waters. Catfish are bottom dwellers and are often caught in slower-moving waters with muddy bottoms, while panfish can be found around structures like docks, submerged trees, or weed beds.

  • Catfish: Catfish love Muddy river bottoms and ten to be fairly lethargic until night time.
  • Panfish (Bluegill, Crappie): Near structures in calm waters. Search for reeds, weeds, and shore structures that can hold fish.

Trout Fishing Choices

Trout, especially in Pennsylvania, are often associated with cold, flowing waters of creeks and rivers. The state offers a variety of trout species, including brook, brown, and rainbow trout. Each species has distinct preferences, but generally, they all favor clean and cold water with ample cover. There’s numerous ways to fish for trout , but the simplest is a float bobber and hook, using worms for bait.

  • Brook Trout: Small, cold headwaters.
  • Brown Trout: Larger streams and rivers.
  • Rainbow Trout: Stocked waters, larger streams.

Miscellaneous Game Fish

Beyond the more common varieties, avid anglers can also target other exciting game fish like muskellunge and northern pike. These predatory fish are often found in larger lakes and reservoirs where they can pursue prey in open water or among the vegetation.

  • Muskellunge: Deep areas with vegetative cover.
  • Northern Pike: Edges of weed beds in lakes.

By honing in on the specific habitats that these fish prefer, you can tailor your shore fishing strategies to increase your chances of a successful catch.

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