Many of the Keystone State's best winter trout lakes are freshly stocked this month. Here's where you can catch a limit of rainbows, browns or brookies near you. (February 2007)
Photo by Vic Attardo.
This month, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has 54 lakes scheduled for trout stocking. Most will get rainbows exclusively, but four will get only brook trout, three will get browns exclusively and two will get brookies and browns. Other than those stocked during February, several of these lakes or their tributaries have also been stocked with trout.
The two waters that will be stocked with brook and brown trout are West Basin Pond and East Basin Pond in Erie County. Cold winds whipping across Lake Erie bring ice consistently here, and it tends to linger later when the big lake is frozen.
The ponds, located within Presque Isle State Park, the most-visited state park in Pennsylvania, are scheduled for Feb. 1 stockings.
While this might lead you to think that fishing pressure is very heavy, it's not because the adjacent waters of Presque Isle Bay, smaller ponds and bays are perhaps the best place for ice-fishing in the commonwealth. Yellow perch, bluegills and crappies get much more attention.
One regulation worth noting here is that the park closes at sunset.
An unusual opportunity to ice-fish for steelhead exists within walking distance of the ponds at Presque Isle Bay.
Steelhead provide the best sport possible for ice-fishermen. You won't simply flick one of these battlers through a hole! Most steelhead caught during winter weigh 2 to 5 pounds, but some might weigh 10 pounds, and a fight could last thirty minutes.
Steelhead are also caught at Marina Lake, one of several ponds within Presque Isle. It is separated from the main bay by a short channel.
Few ice-fishermen target steelhead. Most are caught incidentally by ice-fishermen targeting yellow perch.
To target steelhead specifically, use emerald shiners for bait. Jigging spoons such as the Swedish Pimple tipped with large (3- to 4-inch) shiners can be very effective, as can tip-ups baited with shiners.
Steelhead cruise at various depths, so set baits from just under the ice to within a foot of the pond's bottom.
The park is accessible from Interstate Route 90 via state Route 832, also called Sterrettania Road. Major links to Sterrettania Road from the city of Erie include West 12th Street and West 28th Street. The main road into the park passes these ponds.
The park closes at sunset, so access the bay off Bayfront Parkway. Approaching from the south, I-79 becomes Bayfront Parkway. There are several public access routes off the parkway including Dobbins Landing, the large public dock in the city of Erie.
For more park information, contact the Presque Isle State Park office, P.O. Box 8510, Erie, PA 16505-0510. Call (814) 833-7424; or e-mail email@example.com.
Information about local services is available through the Erie Convention and Visitors Bureau, 208 East Bayfront Parkway, Suite 100, Erie, PA 16507. Call 1-800-524-3743, or log onto the agency's Web site at Visiteriepa.com.
Other lakes scheduled to be stocked with trout this month in the Northwest Region are Upper Gravel Pit and Lake Pleasant in Erie County, Chapman Lake in Warren County, Justus Lake in Venango County and Glade Run Lake in Butler County.
In the Southwest Region, Area 8 fisheries manager Rick Lorson suggested Lake Rowena in Cambria County. This 13-acre lake is on the east side of Ebensburg off Route 22 on Lake View Road. The lake is slated to be stocked February 9 with rainbow trout.
Lake Rowena is owned by the borough of Ebensburg. There is a Fish and Boat Commission access off U.S. Route 422 east of Ebensburg.
Information about local services is available from the Greater Johnstown Convention and Visitors Bureau, 111 Market Street, Johnstown, PA 15901; or call 1-800-237-8590.
Virgin Run Dam will be stocked with rainbow trout on Feb. 6. It also contains some holdover brown trout.
This lake, a great getaway convenient to the Pittsburgh area, lies in Fayette County one-half mile north of Flatwoods on township Road 701 and eight miles west of Connellsville on state Route 201. In addition to trout, it holds crappies and bluegills, which can help perk up the ice-fishing action.
This is a commonwealth-owned lake with a Fish and Boat Commission access. Get information about the area from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, 120 East Main Street, Ligonier, PA 15658; or call 1-800-333-5661.
Raccoon Lake in Beaver County is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout on Feb. 23. This 101-acre lake is in Raccoon Creek State Park. Take U.S. Route 30 west, a direct link from Pittsburgh, and then travel south on state Route 18, which passes directly through the park.
For park information, contact the Raccoon Creek State Park office, 3000 State Route 18, Hookstown, PA 15050-9416; or call (724) 899-2200. Information on local services is available through the Beaver County Tourism Promotion Authority, 215 B Ninth Street, Monaca, PA 15061; or call 1-800-324-8192.
Westmoreland County has more Early Season Trout-Stocked Waters this winter than any other county. Included are Donegal Lake, Keystone Lake, Lower Twin Lake, Mammoth Dam, Northmoreland Lake and Upper Twin Lake. The Southwest Region also has 17 lakes that will be stocked this month, more than any other region.
Other lakes in the Southwest Region scheduled for trout stocking during February 2007 are Brady Run Lake, Lower Hereford Manor Lake in Beaver County, North Park Lake in Allegheny County, Bessemer Lake in Lawrence County, Duman Dam in Cambria County, Laurel Hill Lake in Somerset County, Canonsburg Lake in Washington County and Dunlap Creek Lake in Fayette County.
In all but the warmest of winters, anglers should have no trouble finding good ice across the North-Central Region. Beechwood Lake, one of the closest to our northern border, is a little gem that endures light ice-fishing pressure.
This trout lake is in the rolling,
pastoral region of northern Tioga County. From U.S. Route 6 east of Gaines, take Shin Hollow Road (township Road 328) north to Sabinsville, turn right onto state Route 4012 and then take Ackley Road.
Feb. 7 is the scheduled stocking date for rainbow trout.
The lake has a surface area of 67 acres. Structure includes an old creek channel. Good winter trout action can often be found near the deeper, northern end. If you fill your limit on trout, try the opposite end of the lake for bluegills, black crappies, nice chain pickerel or walleyes.
Information about the area is available through the Tioga County Visitors Bureau, 114 Main Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901; or call 1-888- TIOGA-28.
Lyman Lake in Potter County is another peaceful getaway. Scheduled for a Feb. 27 stocking of rainbow trout, the lake has a surface area of 45 acres. The dam has recently undergone reconstruction and should be ready for ice-fishing this month, but check before you go.
Lyman Lake lies in Lyman Run State Park, which is 15 miles east of Coudersport and seven miles west of Galeton on Lyman Run Road. For park information, contact Lyman Run State Park, 454 Lyman Run Road, Galeton, PA 16922; or call (814) 435-5010.
Information about the area is available through the Potter County Visitors Association, P.O. Box 245, Coudersport, PA 16915. Call 1-888-POTTER-2; or visit their Web site at PotterCountyPa.org.
Other lakes scheduled to be stocked with trout in the North-Central Region this month are Lake Hamilton in Tioga County, George B. Stevenson Lake in Cameron County, Kettle Creek Lake in Clinton County, Little Pine Lake in Lycoming County and Cloe Lake in Jefferson County.
In Area 7, Perez Lake in Huntingdon County covers 72 acres in the Stone Valley Recreation Area, which is owned by Penn State University.
From I-80, take Exit 24 to state Route 26 south to Pine Grove Mills and follow the signs.
Perez Lake is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout Feb. 9. For more information about Perez Lake, contact the Stone Valley Recreation Area, 108 Business Services Building, University Park, PA 16802-1002. Call (814) 863-1164, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurel Lake in Cumberland County is scheduled for a stocking of brown trout on Feb. 2. This 25-acre lake is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which is about eight miles south of I-81 on state Route 233.
Camping is allowed year 'round. For park information, contact the Pine Grove Furnace State Park office, 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324; or call (717) 486-7174.
For tourist information, phone the Hershey Capitol Region Visitor Bureau at 1-800-995-0969.
Only five lakes in the South-Central Region are scheduled to be stocked during February 2007. The others are Canoe Creek Lake in Blair County, Stovers Dam in Lebanon County and Cowans Gap Lake in Fulton County.
Upper Woods Pond in Wayne County is scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout Feb. 21. This has the potential to be one of our best trout lakes. Unlike most of our stocked lakes, it is a natural lake with good habitat for year-round trout growth. Although the fishery is supported by regular stockings, it has some natural reproduction.
"It all depends if you can get there, depending on the amount of snowfall," according to Dave Arnold, Area 5 fisheries manager.
A dirt road through State Game Lands No. 159 provides access, but anglers should give road crews time to plow it after a storm.
This is a deep, natural glacial lake with a low dam that increases its depth by about one foot. The surface area is 80 acres, with an average depth of 29 feet and a maximum depth of about 73 feet.
The deep water maintains suitable water temperatures through summer with adequate oxygen, which is unusual for Pennsylvania trout lakes. This means fish can hold over here year 'round, providing the possibility of catching larger trout.
The February stocking consists of rainbow trout only, but some brown trout and brook trout are available here.
The lake has been stocked with kokanee salmon, but these are no longer an issue. It is an infertile lake, but thanks to the presence of alewives, larger trout -- primarily browns -- have good growth potential. Some over 4 pounds are taken each year.
This month, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has 54 lakes scheduled for trout stocking.
Crayfish are abundant in the rocky-bottomed portions, which also contribute to good growth. Crayfish can give trout's flesh an orange color.
Upper Woods Pond lies about two miles north of Cold Springs Corners on Route 371.
"Hidden Lake is another good prospect," Arnold suggested. "It's fairly underutilized."
Hidden Lake is scheduled to be stocked Feb. 21 with rainbow trout. This 40-acre lake is very shallow. It has a maximum depth of about 7 feet and an average depth of about 3 feet.
Hidden Lake is on Hidden Lake Road, which intersects River Road north of the Delaware Water Gap park headquarters.
Learn more about the Delaware Water Gap at Nps.gov/dewa/.
For information about local services for Upper Woods Pond and Hidden Lake, contact the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, 1004 Main Street, Stroudsburg, PA 18360. Or call 1-800-762-6667, visit their Web site at 800Poconos.com or e-mail email@example.com.
Other Northeast Region lakes scheduled for February trout stocking are Quaker Lake in Susquehanna County, Hunters Lake in Sullivan County, Briar Creek Lake in Columbia County, Lackawanna Lake in Lackawanna County, Lily Lake, Lake Took-A-While, Irena and Moon lakes in Luzerne County.
All Northeast Region lakes are scheduled to be stocked between Feb. 21 and 23.
Deep Creek Dam, a 25-acre lake in Montgomery County, is a trout-stocked lake nearest the Philadelphia area. It is owned by the Montgomery County Parks Department and is part of Green Lane Park. Stocking with rainbow trout is scheduled for Feb. 26.
The lake is about a mile southwest of Green Lane and may be reached by way of Snyder Road west off state Route 29. From the Philadelphia area, take I-676 west to I-76 west, I-476 north to Exit 31 and then follow state Route 63 onto Sumneytown P
For information about the park, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (215) 234-4528.
Scotts Run Lake in Berks County will be stocked Feb. 6 with brown trout. It is in French Creek State Park, which is off state Route 345 south of Birdsboro and north of state Route 23. The lake covers 22 acres in a setting that's relatively secluded for the heavily populated southeastern corner of the commonwealth.
For park information, contact the French Creek State Park office, 843 Park Road, Elverson, PA 19520-9523; or call (610) 582-9680.
Information about the area is available through the Reading and Berks County Visitors Bureau, 352 Penn Street, Reading, PA 19602; or call 1-800-443-6610.
Other Southeast Region lakes scheduled for February trout stocking are Antietam Lake in Berks County, Levittown and Luxembourg lakes in Bucks County, Leaser Lake in Lehigh County, Muddy Run Recreation Lake in Lancaster County and Minsi Lake in Northampton County.
February marks the Extended Trout Season. All streams and waters downstream, and all lakes and ponds listed as approved trout waters, are open to trout fishing during this season, which extends from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. The daily creel limit is three trout, combined species, with a minimum size limit of 7 inches.
Trout stocked during February are intended specifically for the Early Trout Stocked Waters Program. Lakes in this program plus the Youghiogheny River and the tailwaters of Shenango Dam, are open to trout fishing during the month of March. During this season, the creel limit is also three trout, combined species, with a minimum size limit of 7 inches.
For more information about Keystone State ice-fishing opportunities, contact the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, 1601 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000; or call (717) 705-7800. The 2006-2007 regulations summary contains additional details and special regulations.
For more information about traveling in the state, contact the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism, Room 404, Forum Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Or call (717) 232-8880 or 1-800-VISIT-PA.