October 05, 2010
This year, Keystone State lakes and streams offer excellent opportunities for winter trout angling. Here's what cool-weather fishermen can expect this season. (January 2008)
Photo by Rod Cochran.
Though Pennsylvania's mid-April "official" trout opener is still a couple of months away, plenty of trout-fishing options exist for hardy anglers willing to pursue them in winter. All across the state there are lakes, streams and reservoir tailraces where good numbers of trout may be found.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers a number of management programs that benefit the state's winter trout fishery. An important one is the winter trout-stocking program, wherein select lakes and ponds are stocked at intervals throughout the cold-weather season. Stocking takes place during both early winter and late winter.
The frequency with which lakes are stocked varies. The commission's popular Delayed Harvest Program also adds to the list of possible waters, since many of these streams receive stockings of trout in fall once the water temperatures drop.
Also, certain tailrace areas tend to hold trout throughout the winter months.
"The commission's winter trout management program is designed to provide recreational trout angling opportunities at this time of year," said Tom Greene, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Cold Water Unit leader.
He explained that early-winter stockings run from November through December, with late-winter stockings occurring in January and February. Greene noted that two tailwaters areas are also stocked, including at the Shenango and Youghiogheny dams. Many lakes are also stocked during fall, a change made several years ago.
The total number of fish stocked in a particular waterway may not change, but staggered stockings -- from late fall through late winter --spreads out the recreation potential over a longer time period.
"There's a good following of anglers who utilize stocked waters in winter," noted Greene. "Certainly it's not as heavy as during spring, when traditional trout angling takes place in Pennsylvania, but there are folks out there at this time of year. They enjoy the sport that's available. Stocking these lakes and tailwaters sections provides trout fishing opportunities that otherwise would not be there."
Wintertime options on Pennsylvania's lakes and ponds consist of open water and ice-fishing action. Naturally, weather is a factor.
During mild winters, such as the one experienced last year (especially during the early portion of the winter,) hardwater opportunities will be limited. In general, ice-fishing opportunities are more likely in the northern portions of the state, as well as in areas of higher elevations such as those found in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Here's a statewide look at winter trout-fishing opportunities, based on recent discussions with each of the commission's area fisheries managers. Many of the lakes described are modest in size. But this makes the trout more accessible to anglers than might be the case with larger bodies of water.
Keep in mind, however, that stocking changes can take place. Weather can impact stocking schedules, as can a host of other factors. Be alert for dispatches in your local newspaper, or log on to the commission's Web site at www.fish.state.pa.us for the latest press releases, which will include changes in the agency's winter trout stocking program. This Web site also has first-rate information regarding ice-fishing safety.
Stocking information provided for the listed waters is based on last season's history. Stocking schedules tend to remain the same from year to year, but expect modifications.
Glade Run Lake
This Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission lake in southern Butler County provides an excellent trout- fishing venue for anglers in the southwestern portion of the state. Its location north of Pittsburgh and south of Butler makes convenient for anglers from a major population center.
Glade Run Lake covers 52 acres. Last year, it received a late-winter stocking in February. Access is good, particularly along the northwestern side of the lake where the paved boat launch may be found. A large parking lot is also provided at the landing site.
If open water persists into the winter months, boats may be used with oars or electric motors only.
Because this is a PFBC property, all boats must be registered.
Glade Run Lake is off Route 228 via Overbrook Road south of Butler.
Found in Beaver County west of the Butler County line, Lower Hereford Manor Lake is another good option for anglers from the towns and cities of the southwestern portion of the state. Interstate 79 is only a few miles east of the lake, providing access from the north or south.
Lower Hereford Manor Lake is one of two lakes on Doe Creek. A few years ago, the upper lake was drawn down about 15 feet to provide flood protection for the lower lake. Lower Hereford covers about 45 acres, and receives trout during the winter.
Last season, trout were planted in Lower Hereford during a late winter stocking in late February.
Non-powered and electric motors are permitted on Lower Hereford Manor Lake. A good boat ramp is provided on the southeastern corner of the lake, along with a large parking area. Vehicular access is found on both the east and west shores of the lake. It is along Route 228, a few miles west of Zelienople.
Brady Run Lake
Brady Run Lake is the centerpiece of Brady Run County Park in Beaver County. It is off Route 51 north of Beaver.
Last winter, Brady Run Lake was stocked with trout in late February.
Access is good all around Brady Run Lake via a hard road and a trail system. Boats are permitted with electric motors only.
Laurel Hill Lake
This 63-acre lake is found in the popular state park of the same name in the mountains of Somerset County.
Last winter, Laurel Hill Lake was stocked in early February, and also during the previous fall. The goal of fall stockings is to provide recreation during that part of the year.
The remaining fish that aren't caught soon after the fall stocking add to the fish available during the winter months. Access is good around much of the lake. Boats with electric motors are allowed.
Thanks to the higher elevation of Laurel Hill Lake, the place enjoys a longer ice-fishing season than many other lakes that sit at lower altitudes. During mild winters, stream fishing may also be enjoyed on the nearby Delayed Harvest, Artificial Lures Only project on Laurel Creek.
Laurel Hill State Park may be reached from Interstate 76 by way of exits 110 (Somerset) and 91 (Donegal). Route 31 provides access to the lake from the interstate highway.
At 15 acres, Cambria County's Lake Rowena is near the intersection of Route 22 and Route 422, both major arteries in this part of the state. This makes the lake a popular destination for anglers from both the western and central parts of the Keystone State.
Lake Rowena's trout are quite accessible to anglers. Last year, the lake was stocked in early December and February. Rowena is on the outskirts of Ebensburg, the county seat of Cambria County, with plenty of services nearby.
Like Laurel Lake, Rowena sits at a higher elevation. This, combined with the lake's relatively small size, adds up to quick ice cover. The lake has one of the longest ice-fishing seasons in the area.
Boats with electric motors are permitted if ice is not present.
Lower Twin Lake
Lower Twin is one of the Westmoreland County park lakes. It lies in Twin Lakes Park. Because of this, access to Upper Twin Lake is very good. In addition to its good shoreline access, a handicapped-accessible fishing pier is present. The county maintains a boathouse that is open year 'round. Bait is also available at this location.
Last season, Upper Twin Lake was stocked with trout during fall and again in early December. A mid-February stocking was delayed due to a snowstorm. That stocking eventually took place in early March.
Upper Twin Lake lies near Greensburg. Turn north off Route 30 onto Donahue Road near Westmoreland Mall.
Canoe Creek Lake
Canoe Creek Lake is the highlight of Blair County's Canoe Creek State Park. At 155 acres, this is one of the larger stocked trout lakes on our list.
Canoe Creek Lake lies about eight miles east of Holidaysburg. The Route 22 corridor makes this a popular destination for folks coming from Altoona and points to the east.
Last season, Canoe Creek received a fall stocking, as well as a late winter stocking in early February. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provides boat access points on both the eastern and western shores of the lake. Shoreline access is also good.
The state's winter stocking program is not based on acreage. That is, larger lakes don't receive more trout in proportion to their size. So on Canoe Creek, the fish may be spread a little thinner than on some other, smaller waters.
Cowan's Gap Lake
If the aesthetics of an area have anything to do with its attractiveness to anglers -- and for many it does -- Cowan's Gap Lake would place high on the list. Cowan's Gap State Park contains the 42-acre lake of the same name.
Nestled in the deep valley between Tuscarora and Cove mountains, Cowan's Gap Lake sits several hundred feet higher than nearby valleys. Its elevation certainly favors the ice-fishing situation.
In addition to a late fall stocking, last season Cowan's Gap also received stocked trout in mid-January.
Both Interstate Route 76 and Route 30 may be used to access the general vicinity of the lake, which is near Richmond Furnace.
Situated near Lebanon, 26-acre Stovers Dam provides good winter trout angling for fisherman from the nearby Harrisburg area. The lake lies off Maple Street near the northern city limits of Lebanon.
Last winter, Stovers Dam was stocked during mid-December and again in mid-January. The latter stocking was originally slated for early January. Electric motors are permitted on Stovers Dam.
Letterkenny is another good winter trout-fishing option in the central part of the state. The 54-acre reservoir was planted with trout in fall last season. It may also receive more trout in February this season.
Letterkenny Reservoir is in Franklin County in Roxbury. The lake is at Route 641 and Horse Valley Road. Electric motors are permitted.
George B. Stevenson Dam
Cameron County's. Stevenson Dam is a popular destination for folks looking for good winter trout fishing.
This 142-acre north-central Pennsylvania county lake was stocked with trout during a mid-February planting last year, so more of the same can be expected this winter.
Although the north-central region experiences some of the coldest winter temperatures in the state, ice-anglers should be extra cautious because this is a flood-control lake, subject to varying water levels.
Stevenson Dam can be found in Sinnemahoning State Park seven miles north of Sinnemahoning on Route 872.
Though the previous listings have centered on stocked trout lakes and ponds, this isn't to imply that no stream fishing is available.
Good winter fishing may be enjoyed in many stream settings, particularly if the winter is a mild one. Stream sections below deep dams can be especially productive.
Carbon County's Pohopoco Creek is a good example. Access is good along much of the stream below Beltzville Dam. Pohopoco Creek Road runs along a portion of this creek.
Wintertime options on Pennsylvania's lakes and ponds consist of open water and ice-fishing action. Naturally, weather is a factor.
The Lehigh River below Francis Walter Dam is another flowing water that eastern Pennsylvania anglers should consider for good winter stream fishing. Keep in mind that extended trout-fishing regulations apply at this time of year.
Upper Woods Pond
Wayne County's Upper Woods Pond is a good bet for anglers wishing to enjoy wintertime angling in the Pocono Mountains.
Upper Woods Pond was stocked last winter with early November and late-February plantings.
Electric motors are permitted on this 90-acre water, which lies two miles north of Cold Springs Corners along Route 371.
stream section of Tulpehocken Creek below Blue Marsh Dam provides excellent winter stream trout angling for fishermen from southeastern Pennsylvania.
With the exception of the first few hundred yards below the dam, the first four miles of the creek are managed as a Delayed Harvest Area. Two more miles of stocked trout water exist below the special regulations area, and are managed as standard Approved Trout Waters.
This area is stocked with trout during fall, and the fish carry over well into the winter.
Holdovers from previous spring plantings will likely be present as well, as the stream keeps its low temperatures through the summer.
Access is good because public land surrounds the stream, which is near Reading.
Scotts Run Lake
Scotts Run Lake in French Creek State Park sits at a higher elevation than most nearby southeastern Pennsylvania lakes, offering a bit more of an ice-fishing season.
Last season, Scotts Run Lake received two winter stockings in addition to a fall trout stocking. Winter plantings took place in mid-December and early February.
French Creek State Park lies in Berks and Chester counties off Route 345 south of Birdsboro and north of Route 23.
Schuylkill County contains Tuscarora Lake as well as the state park of the same name. This 96-acre lake is stocked with trout in fall. Last season, it received a mid-December stocking.
Survey work by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission confirmed that trout from these stockings hold over well and that come spring, plenty of fish remain.
This lake, which is limited to boats with electric motors, lies off Route 54 at Barnesville.
Kaercher Creek Dam
A small 30-acre pond in Hamburg, Kaercher Creek Dam is part of the Berks County park system. Though the impoundment isn't stocked in winter, few fish are harvested from the fall stockings that take place there, so plenty of fish remain for wintertime angling.
This lake is off Route 78 along old Route 22. A ramp is provided, and boats are limited to electric motors only.
Anglers must remember that limiting regulations are in place during the winter season. Consult the 2008 Summary of Fishing Regulations supplied with your license, or log on to the commission's Web site for details regarding waters you plan to fish.
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