Your boat might be a snowy, tarp-covered bump in the backyard; your boots well-dried from their last adventure. Don’t despair! While you re-spool line and replace hooks we’ve put together a 12- month slate of Pennsylvania fishing adventures sure to keep you busy this year.
Lower Allegheny River
The lower Allegheny River stretches over 70-odd miles from East Brady downriver to Pittsburgh. Eight lock-and-dam structures impound this stretch, and tend to serve as gathering points for wintering walleyes. When river conditions are reasonable — i.e., not extremely high, or completely iced over — excellent walleye fishing can be enjoyed.
The immediate tailrace areas of the dams are off limits to boat anglers. But shore anglers have some access to these areas. Lock & Dam 4, 5, 7 and 8 have small hydroelectric stations located on the shore opposite the lock chamber. These facilities feature fishing platforms. The best fishing from these areas will be had during periods of low flow, as excess current will move the fish out.
Boat anglers will often find good fishing in the larger, deeper holes within 2 to 3 miles of the dam tailrace, as many fish will stage in these areas. Look for such spots on sharp river bends, and both immediately above and below feeder waters.
While good fishing is available throughout the entire stretch, some of the best fishing often happens downriver of Lock and Dam 2 (the Highland Park Dam), with good access found at the Fish and Boat Commission’s Sharpsburg Access.
Promised Land State Park
Panfish On Ice
Promised Land State Park is located in the heart of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. While the 3,000-acre state park provides a host of wintertime activities, for the angler the attraction is the fishing to be had in the two lakes that are found in the state park acreage.
Both the 422-acre Promised Lake and 173-acre Lower Lake offer excellent ice-fishing opportunities. Located on the Pocono Plateau (at an elevation over 1,800 feet), these two lakes tend to provide relatively long ice fishing seasons. Five boat access areas scattered around the two lakes provide ice-fishing access.
Both yellow perch and panfish are found here, and are the focus of many ice fishers. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are also part of the mix; chain pickerel are found in the two lakes as well, and often provide hardwater action. The Fish and Boat Commission stocks brook, brown and rainbow trout in Lower Lake; trout are commonly available during the ice fishing season.
Promised Land State Park is located in Pike County. Call the state park office at 570-676-3428 for a report on ice-fishing conditions.
Lower Juniata River
The Juniata River, along with the lower portions of the Susquehanna River, has been the focus of concerned anglers and fisheries managers. Poor survival rates of young smallmouth bass in recent years have provided fewer young bass. But decent numbers of adult bass remain; in early spring, when bass are still in the wintering holes that provided them with the necessary habitat to survive the cold months, some the year’s best fishing for the river’s biggest brown bass can be had.
As with almost all early spring flowing water venues, the availability of fishing opportunity relies on water levels. Higher flows are common at this time, and can actually benefit anglers as high flows often squeeze fish into highly confined areas. But raging flows will preclude fishing.
Expect to find smallmouth bass in deep, slower pools. Bass tend to use them each winter, so once you find a good spot one year it’s apt to be good the next year. The lower Juniata flows through Perry County; river access is good in many areas. Visit the Fish and Boat Commission’s website for more information.
Since they are concentrated in defined areas, river smallmouth bass are vulnerable at this time. Fortunately, this section of the Juniata is under catch-and-release regulations for smallmouths.
For well over a decade anglers have bemoaned the downward trend of walleye fishing on what had been the state’s most productive inland walleye water: Pymatuning Lake. The cries have been answered, as a change in stocking practices has brought the sprawling Crawford County lake back to its former prominence.
Pymatuning’s walleye fishery had historically been maintained by the stocking of fry-stage walleyes (and a small boost from some natural reproduction). In recent years the lack of recruitment to adult fish made it evident fry stocking was no longer cutting it.
Both the Fish and Boat Commission and the Ohio Division of Wildlife (Pymatuning is a border lake) embarked on an aggressive fingerling stocking program. Last spring walleye anglers experienced outstanding catches of both legal and sublegal walleyes. Given the numbers of 13 to 14 inch walleyes seen last year, 2011 should be an outstanding year.
Several boat access areas are located on the Pennsylvania side of Pymatuning. Some of the better ones are Linesville, Espyville, Snodgrass and Jamestown.
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