Near-record breaking cold with sub-zero wind-chill factors dominated Pennsylvania at the beginning of 2018, and 5-plus feet of snow blanketed Erie in late December.
With severe weather advisories issued in many counties through at least Jan. 6, ice-fishing pressure varied among fisheries across the state. Ice anglers are advised to exercise extreme caution when venturing onto frozen surfaces.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County) — Presque Isle Angler tackle shop reported Jan. 6 that ice anglers were fishing Misery Bay, Horseshoe Pond, and the Dobbins Landing area. Conditions were dicey a week earlier, given all the snowfall Erie received, but as of Jan. 6, the shop reported that anglers were finding spots with fishable ice. Dobbins Landing was yielding some nice-size perch, while Horseshoe Pond was giving up bluegills and sunfish. Swedish pimples tipped with grubs were the ticket. Small jigs and grubs, and small spoons also were productive. Largemouth bass and steelhead were hitting in parts of the bay.
The Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority announced vessel arrivals and movements scheduled to begin Jan. 3 and continue all winter in the inner harbor of the bay. Vessels will be berthed at Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair and Dobbins Landing. According to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, which released the port authority schedule, disruption of ice conditions will be limited to the eastern portion of the bay and east of Dobbins Landing – an area that anglers should avoid at all times – but all portions of the bay could be impacted, and extreme caution should be exercised when approaching any part of the bay.
Lake Arthur (Butler County) — Appalachian Trails tackle shop reported Jan. 6 that many anglers were out on the main body of the lake, whereas action until then had been limited to Muddy Creek arm, a popular early season destination. Numbers of largemouth bass up to 22 inches and northern pike were being iced on shiners, while crappies and bluegills were hitting waxworms, small fatheads, and maggots. The occasional channel catfish also was reported.
Harbor Acres Lake (Butler County) — Anglers were catching October-stocked trout on minnows in the early morning hours of early January.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) — Poff’s Place tackle shop reported Jan. 6 that ice anglers were catching a few nice walleyes up to
5½ pounds on small jigs and minnows, and some panfish, but pressure was light owing to frigid weather.
Shenango River Reservoir (Mercer County) — Bill’s Field and Stream reported Jan. 6 that ice anglers were catching nice crappies and bluegills.
Allegheny, Monongahela, Ohio rivers — All three rivers around Pittsburgh were frozen as of Jan. 4.
Twin Lakes (Westmoreland County) — Yellow perch, bluegills, and crappies were reported Jan. 4 on this Panfish Enhancement Program/Big Bass Program destination.
Yellow Creek Lake (Indiana County) — Before the freeze-up, anglers were catching crappies and other panfish at this 720-acre impoundment in late December.
Two Lick Reservoir (Indiana County) — The backwaters were yielding brown and rainbow trout on minnows in late December before the freeze-up.
Lyman Run Lake (Potter County) — Trout were hitting tiny jigs tipped with waxworms or mealworms. Fish also were hitting on tip-ups with live minnows, and on spoons.
Hills Creek Lake (Tioga County) — Don’s Tackle Shack reported Jan. 6 that anglers were catching nice yellow perch on waxworms and maggots, particularly in the morning and evening hours. Bluegills and crappies also were hitting with glow, silver, gold and “wonderbread” jigs effective. Bass and chain pickerel were reported on tip-ups baited with fathead minnows or shiners.
Hamilton Lake (Tioga County) — Yellow perch, bluegills, and crappies were hitting waxworms. Tip-ups baited with dough balls, or live minnows were catching trout, while tip-ups baited with live shiners or fatheads were the ticket for bass and pickerel.
Hammond Lake (Tioga County) — Reports were mixed as of Jan. 3, with some anglers catching crappies and yellow perch on waxworms and live minnows.
Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Trout and bluegills were hitting waxworms, maggots, and mousies, while chain pickerel were taking live shiners on tip-ups in recent weeks. Bass and numbers of small perch also were reported.
Walker, Faylor and Halfway Lakes (Union, Snyder counties) — Anglers were catching panfish on jigs tipped with waxworms and mealworms.
Rose Valley Lake (Lycoming County) — Yellow perch and chain pickerel were biting jigs tipped with mealworms or waxworms and live minnows under tip-ups.
Fishing Creek (Clinton County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were catching trout in deeper water on streamers (6-10), and nymphs, such as Princes (12-16), and Gold-bead Pheasant Tails (12-18). Trout occasionally were rising to midges (22-26).
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake (Centre County) — Numbers of yellow perch, crappies and bluegills were hitting jigs tipped with maggots and waxworms or tip-ups with live minnows.
Black Moshannon Lake (Centre County) — Anglers were catching crappies and yellow perch on waxworms, maggots and live minnows.
Spring Creek (Centre County) — TCO Fly Shop reported edge ice on this limestone stream Jan. 6, but there was some fishable water. Trout were hitting olive or black streamers (6-10), and nymphs, such as Olive Scuds (14-18) and Caddis Larvae (14-16); fish occasionally were rising to midges.
Holman Lake (Perry County) — Ice anglers were catching panfish and trout in early January. Anglers are reminded that the creel limit on trout is three fish during the extended season.
Susquehanna River (York County) — Before ice-up occurred, anglers were catching walleyes on jigs tipped with brightly-colored twister tails or minnows. Flathead and channel catfish were hitting crawlers and chicken livers.
Raystown Lake (Huntingdon County) — In December’s milder conditions, anglers were catching striped bass up to 16-plus pounds on shad, and perch up to 15 inches, also on shad.
Stoevers Dan (Lebanon County — Coble’s Bait Shop reported great ice fishing Jan. 6, with anglers catching brown and rainbow trout, as well as some panfish. Nice numbers of browns were hitting on minnows, and the other fish were taking mealworms and waxworms.
Memorial Lake (Lebanon County) — This Indiantown Gap impoundment was fishing well for panfish, including crappies, bluegills, yellow perch and bass.
Lions Lake (Lebanon County) — Anglers are reminded that ice fishing is not allowed on this impoundment.
Little Juniata River (Huntingdon County) — As of Jan. 6, TCO Fly Shop reported fish were in winter holding patterns and water was cold, low and clear, but ice had shut down angling. Previously, as conditions allowed, nymphs and streamers, including Blue-Winged Olive Sparkle Duns (18-20) and Gold-Bead Hare’s Ears (14-18) were the best bet. Midges (20-24) were hatching.
Lake Wallenpaupack (Pike County) — Wacky Worm tackle shop reported Jan. 6 that nice catches of perch, crappies and trout were being iced on jigs and minnows as well as on small spoons with waxworms or mealworms.
Henrys Lake (Pike County) — Ice anglers were catching perch and crappies as of Jan. 6 on this 310-acre Pocono Mountains impoundment.
Brady’s Lake (Monroe County) — Wacky Worm reported Jan. 6 that crappies and perch were being iced by anglers jigging minnows.
Tobyhanna Lake (Monroe County) — Nice numbers of chain pickerel up to 24 inches and trout were reported on tip-ups and minnows.
Beltzville Lake (Carbon County) — Some nice walleyes up to 24 inches were hitting weighted spoons through the ice as of Jan. 6. Chain pickerel also were reported.
Harvey’s Lake (Luzerne County) — Trout were hitting minnows through the ice on this 610-acre impoundment as of Jan. 6.
Harris Pond (Luzerne County) — Ice anglers were targeting fish with tip-ups and jigging rods in early January.
Marsh Creek (Chester County) — Gordon’s Sports Supply reported Jan. 6 that perch and crappies were being iced on small minnows.
Nockamixon Lake (Bucks County) — Channel catfish were hitting on medium shiners around 3-Mile Access in early January. Yellow perch also were reported through the ice.
Levittown Lake, Luke Luxembourg (Bucks County) — Trout were reported on green and orange pastebaits in early January.
Compiled by Deborah Weisberg