Our Top Five Spring Striper Hotspots

Our Top Five Spring Striper Hotspots

Whether you prefer purebreds or hybrids, here's a look at five of the best places to go for spring stripers in Pennsylvania.

Courtesy Of Bennett Kirkpatrick

Striped bass and hybrid stripers provide Commonwealth anglers with the opportunity to battle hard-fighting fish that grow to double-digit weight proportions.

Stockings of pure stripers take place within the Delaware River and Susquehanna River drainages, where the fish are native. Certain waters within these drainages also receive hybrids. To prevent the unintentional establishment of a non-native species in the Ohio River drainage, only hybrid stripers, which cannot reproduce, are stocked there.

Here's a look at the state's top inland striper and hybrid striper waters this spring, based on input from the PFBC fisheries management staff.

LAKE ARTHUR

Butler County's Lake Arthur has traditionally been one of the top hybrid waters in the state. According to Craig Billingsley, area fisheries manager, the tradition should continue this spring.

Lake Arthur covers about 3,225 acres. It is a fertile lake lying between gently rolling hills. Maximum depth is about 35 feet, though the average depth is much less. Large creek arms make up a significant portion of the lake.

Moraine State Park services include a marina and boat rental facility. Motors are limited to 20 horsepower.

Numerous access areas are scattered along the lake's shoreline. Among the more popular ramps with striper anglers are Bear Run, McDaniels and No. 528.

Billingsley said netting operations that took place last spring revealed several year-classes of hybrid stripers. He expects this year's fishing to produce good numbers of fish in the 22-inch range, though the possibility of catching larger fish exists.

Significant angler attention is directed toward the hybrid fishery, particularly during spring. Night-fishing is popular, though hybrids are readily taken during the day, mostly on cloudy days.

For additional information on accommodations and amenities in Butler County, contact the Butler County Tourism office at (866) 856-8444, or visit the agency's Web site at

http://visit-butler-county-pennsylvania-pa.com.

SHENANGO LAKE

Mercer County's Shenango Lake also contains a significant hybrid striper fishery.

Shenango Lake is a 3,650-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment on the Shenango River. It is relatively shallow and the forage base is gizzard shad.

A federal flood control lake, Shenango is subject to changes in water levels. It's wise to check on lake conditions before making a trip to the lake. Daily lake information may be obtained by calling (724) 962-4384.

A recent Fish and Boat Commission survey revealed a significant hybrid striper population in the lake. According to field reports, striped bass collected in trap nets ran from less than 5 inches to 29 inches in length. A total of 124 hybrids were collected, of which 59 were over 23 inches in length. Keeping in mind that this survey was conducted in 2002, and that fishing conditions were tough during the wet and unstable summers of 2003 and 2004, Shenango could be a great destination this year.

There are no horsepower restrictions on Shenango Lake, though significant no-wake areas and speed zones are present. User fees are charged for boat launching during months popular with striper anglers. Six access areas are present, including the popular Shenango Recreation Area.

Additional information on Mercer County may be obtained by phoning (800) 637-2370, or visit the agency's Web site at

www.mercercountypa.org.

THREE RIVERS

Though the fishing isn't of the same scope as Lake Arthur and Shenango Lake, certain areas of the three major rivers of western Pennsylvania contain enough fish to warrant attention from anglers.

Over the years, hybrid stripers have been stocked in the lower Allegheny, lower Monongahela and upper Ohio rivers. Stockings have been inconsistent, but some river sections have experienced fairly regular striper plantings.

Rick Lorson, area fisheries manager, suggested anglers key in on the "Point Pool," which includes the waters encircling the point in Pittsburgh. This includes the Allegheny River from the point upriver to the Highland Park Dam, the Monongahela River up to Lock and Dam 2 at Braddock, and the Ohio River downriver from the point to the Emsworth locks and dams.

Lorson said the Point Pool has been stocked with hybrids in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Another area worthy of angler effort is the Montgomery Pool of the Ohio River. The Montgomery Pool runs from the Montgomery Lock and Dam near Shippingport upriver 18 miles to the Dashields Lock and Dam near Glenwillard. This section has been stocked with hybrids in the same years as the Point Pool. Lorson based his recommendations on the steady stockings combined with positive angler reports.

The PFBC maintains the South Side Access Area on the Point Pool. It's on the Monongahela River at the foot of 18th Street off East Carson Street. The agency also maintains an access area on the Montgomery Pool in Rochester at the foot of Pleasant Street and New York Avenue off Route 65.

LAKE WALLENPAUPACK

Lake Wallenpaupack is vying to outdistance Raystown Lake as the most popular inland striped bass lake in the state. This 5,700-acre impoundment has an excellent purebred striped bass population.

Wallenpaupack is a popular multi-use Pocono Mountain lake in Pike and Wayne counties. Owned by Pennsylvania Power and Light Company, the 'Pack is a traditional favorite with anglers and boaters.

According to Dave Arnold, area fisheries manager, Wallenpaupack should provide very good striped bass fishing this spring.


Over the years, hybrid stripers have been stocked in the lower Allegheny, lower Monongahela and upper Ohio rivers.
 

"I'd rate it equal to the Delaware River as a striped bass fishery," he said.

Though both hybrid stripers and pure stripers have been stocked in Wallenpaupack over the years, Arnold said the focus now is on purebreds.

The area manager said striper fisherman could expect a reasonable chance at good numbers of striped bass in the 30- to 36-inch range. The potential for much bigger fish exists, however. During the Fish and Boat Commission's 2003 Citation Program, Wallenpaupack produced the biggest inland striper, a 42-pound, 44-inch trophy taken by Brad Albert. Another Top Five fish, Terry Vogel's 31-pound, 40-inch lunker, also came from the lake.

A strong angler effort is focused on Wallenpaupack's stripers. Guide services are available in the area. Night-fishing is popular, particularly when daytime boat traffic is high.

This lake has no horsepower restrictions. More information on the area may be obtained by contacting the Hawley-Lake Wallenpaupack Chamber of Commerce at (570) 226-3191.

RAYSTOWN LAKE

Huntingdon County's Raystown Lake, the waterway many state anglers associate with inland water striper fishing, should continue to produce good action this spring.

Dave Miko, newly appointed area fisheries manager (replacing retired AFM Larry Jackson), expects the lake to have good populations of pure stripers this spring.

"Based on the consistent stockings the lake received from 1997 through 2001, there should be good numbers of fish available," Miko said. "These 5- to 8-year-old fish will run 22 to 30 inches in length."

Raystown Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control impoundment, covers 8,300 acres, and is the largest reservoir contained entirely within the state.

Gizzard shad remain the primary staple. Alewife shad, though still present, were found in lower numbers during the commission's last lake survey. Rainbow smelt numbers crashed during the late 1990s.

The Corps of Engineers maintains seven access areas along the shoreline of this 28-mile-long, unlimited horsepower lake. The Corps office may be contacted by calling (814) 658-3405. Or the Web site,

raystown.nab.usace.army.mil/, contains an abundance of additional information on the lake.

The Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau

(www.raystown.org) will furnish details on lodging, amenities and other travel considerations. Call them at (888) RAYSTOWN.

There is no closed season on hybrid stripers or purebreds on waters under standard regulations. The creel limit is two fish, combined species, and there is a 20-inch minimum length limit.

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