Fishing in Pennsylvania: An Angler’s Guide


Fishing in Pennsylvania: An Angler’s Guide

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Everyone knows that the “Keystone State” is blessed with beautiful forests and state parks. It comes as no surprise then, that there’s an abundance of freshwater you can explore. With 4,000 inland lakes and 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, fishing in Pennsylvania is indeed a freshwater angler’s dream. 

And those are just some of the experiences that you can get in Pennsylvania. There’s also the Pennsylvania Wilds and the mighty Lake Erie – neither really needing an introduction. You can get your hands on so many interesting fish species that you’ll feel like you’re absolutely spoiled with choice. 

Aerial view of Delaware Water Gap on a sunny autumn day

In this guide, we’ll highlight a few species you can find in Pennsylvania and how to target them. We’ll also cover some of the best fishing spots in the state as well as fishing rules and regulations to help you get ready for your adventure in Pennsylvania. So, without further ado… 

Top Fish Species in Pennsylvania

Some locals say that there are so many fish species in Pennsylvania that they don’t really need to go anywhere else. Well, that’s not far from the truth! These creeks and streams are filled with various types of Trout, while the lakes and ponds are home to Bass, Catfish, Pike, and who knows what else. 

Bass

A smiling angler with freshly caught Bass

Bass fishing in Pennsylvania is focused on Largemouth and Smallmouth, both of which share the same waterways in the state. Smallmouth are usually found in flowing waters with rocky areas, while Largemouth prefer warm waters with soft bottoms. 

Pennsylvania has a lot of Bass fishing waters. These are major lakes, including Lake Erie, Lake Wallenpaupack, Raystown Lake, Yellow Creek Lake, Marsh Creek Lake and Nockamixon Lake, as well as many other smaller lakes, rivers, and ponds. 

Walleye

A smiling angler holding Walleye caught in Pennsylvania with Chasing Dreams Sportfishing

What’s the first reservoir that comes to mind when you think of Walleye fishing in Pennsylvania? More often than not it’s Lake Erie. Well, this Great Lake definitely offers great Walleye fishing, however, there are many other lakes and reservoirs in the state that are also good for targeting Walleye. 

If you’re planning on throwing in your line for Walleye, take a look at Lake Arthur, Youghiogheny River Lake, Pymatuning Lake, and Shenango River Lake. In fact, there have been various national Walleye fishing tournaments held in the Allegheny Reservoir!

Trout

A close-up of a Brook Trout held above water

Pennsylvania is home to some of the best Trout fishing in the US. There’s a whole number of different streams, filled with all sorts of Trout, although one species definitely stands out – Brook Trout. As the Pennsylvania state fish, it’s the only native Trout in the state. 

Of course, it’s not the only member of the Trout family that you can fish in Pennsylvania. Cast a line in any direction, and you’ll be able to find Lake Trout and Rainbow Trout in almost any stream and river in the state. 

…and More!

In addition to these interesting fish species, Pennsylvania’s waterways are also filled with other tasty and feisty fish species. You can get your hands on Bluegill, Catfish, Musky, and Yellow Perch among others. 

Top Fishing Spots in Pennsylvania

Aerial view of the Susquehanna River at sunset, from the Pinnacle in Southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Now that you know what you can catch in Pennsylvania, you’re probably asking yourself where to go. Whatever list we make, it’s never going to be big enough to cover all the best spots the state has to offer. Below, we did our best to narrow down some of our favorite spots in Pennsylvania. 

  • Presque Isle Bay. The oldest harbor on the Great Lakes, it offers a great start for ice fishing on Lake Erie with good prospects of Pike and Panfish. Of course, you can enjoy the Bay all year round, departing from the piers, lagoons, boat landings, and the Perry Monument. 
  • Cedar Run. Cedar Run offers anglers plenty of fly fishing grounds, starting with Tioga County and flowing into Pine Creek in Lycoming County. The number one target there is Trout. 
  • Susquehanna River. The mighty Susquehanna is the largest river on the East Coast that flows from upstate New York to the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, it hardly needs introduction as it’s one of the best fishing spots in Pennsylvania. Here, you can get your hands on Walleye, Panfish, and Catfish. 
  • Lake Arthur. Based in Moraine State Park, Lake Arthur is a great place to fill your bucket with a large variety of freshwater fish species. What’s on the menu? Anything from Crappie and Bluegill to Northern Pike, Catfish, and Largemouth Bass.
  • Oil Creek. Widely known as one of the state’s best Trout and Bass fisheries, Oil Creek should be on every freshwater angler’s list. Locals and visitors often come to Oil Creek State Park, which offers the best access to these fishing spots. 
  • Yellow Breeches Creek. This beautiful waterway is a premier fly fishing destination in Pennsylvania that’s always full of Trout. If you’d like to share your experience with fly fishermen from all over the country, consider paying the Yellow Breeches a visit in spring.

Types of Fishing in Pennsylvania

What type of fishing works best for you depends on what you’re hoping to catch and when you’re planning to go. Below, we’ll look into some of the most popular ways to go fishing in Pennsylvania. 

Fly Fishing

A fly streamer on a line, with a fly fisherman in the background holding his rod

Fly fishing in Pennsylvania is arguably some of the best in the entire country. The state offers amazing opportunities for every outdoor enthusiast. The best part is that fly fishing here is a year-round pleasure. 

Wherever you go, you’ll find a great lake, stream, river, and even a number of Blue Ribbon waters with easy access to the best fishing spots. There’s a Trout stream available in almost every town or city across Pennsylvania.

Lake Fishing 

Erie Harbor North Pier Light on Lake Erie, PA

It goes without saying that Lake Erie is among the state’s top fisheries. You can explore its tributaries, canals, and the beautiful Presque Isle Bay from a boat or land all year round. The fishing menu is also exquisite – from Smallmouth Bass to Walleye, Trout, and Steelhead. 

For the best Lake Erie fishing experience in Pennsylvania, we recommend booking a charter with a local guide. A knowledgeable captain will provide you with all the necessary equipment, as well as information about important local regulations. All you’ll really need to do then is just enjoy your trip!

Ice Fishing

Angler sitting on a box and holding a thumbs up over a hole in the ice.

With so many amazing spots to explore, fishing in Pennsylvania doesn’t stop during the winter months. In fact, it gets even “hotter” with its great ice fishing opportunities. You can choose a more remote spot, such as Yellow Creek Lake, Horseshoe Pond, and Misery Bay, or hit the ice on Presque Isle Bay.

While ice fishing is a fun activity suitable for the whole family, it’s important to always check the weather and the fishing conditions ahead of time. If possible, book a trip with a local guide for a safer and more productive winter adventure. 

Rules and Regulations

Infographic "Fishing in Pennsylvania: Rules and Regulations"

Both PA residents and visitors over the age of 16 should purchase a valid fishing license to fish in the state. Some areas have their own rules and regulations, so it’s important to check them in advance. Additionally, you might also want to check the seasonality of the fish species you’re hoping to catch. If you’re fishing with a licensed charter, your captain and the crew will make sure everyone’s respecting all the necessary rules and regulations, including seasonality and size limits. 

If you’re looking for more information on fishing licenses in the state, feel free to check our guide on Pennsylvania fishing licenses here

Fishing in Pennsylvania – Escape to Nature

Three anglers with fishing rods in their hands standing in water in Pennsylvania

With thousands of waterways, two federally designated wild and scenic Rivers, and distinct water trails, you truly feel special in the “Keystone State.” It offers a little bit of everything for freshwater lovers, including a large supply of Trout and healthy waterways filled with Bass and Walleye. All you have to do is pick where to start, and you’ll see how easy it is to fall in love with fishing in Pennsylvania. 

Have you ever been fishing in Pennsylvania? What’s your favorite spot? Any special experiences to share? Let us know in the comments below – we love to hear from you!

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