Wildly veering weather wreaked havoc with fisheries, putting them through freeze-thaw cycles through mid-January, when near-record cold gave way to air temperatures near 50. Anglers are advised to exercise extreme caution when venturing onto frozen surfaces and to practice safety measures, such as those that can be found at www.fishandboat.com
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County) —Poor Richard’s Bait & Tackle reported Jan. 19 that ice anglers were catching perch off Liberty Park, and crappies in the early morning and late evening hours in Misery Bay, where northern pike up to 35 inches also were reported. Horseshoe Pond was yielding the occasional pike, as well as perch, bluegills, and a few steelhead. Marina Lake was yielding bluegills, crappies and perch. A 27-inch walleye was caught off Cherry Street.
Erie tributaries — The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission put over 100 breeder steelhead in Sixteen Mile and the upper end of Four Mile creeks in early January, although Four Mile was frozen. Sixteen Mile had open water near the water treatment plant. Fresh steelhead were hitting at the mouth of Walnut Creek in early January just before the deep freeze.
Lake Pleasant (Erie County) — This small natural lake was yielding some nice-sized rainbow and brown trout as well as crappies and perch in mid-January.
Eaton Reservoir (Erie County) — Amid light fishing pressure, anglers were icing smallmouth bass, pike and crappies, as conditions allowed.
French Creek (Erie, Crawford, Venango, Mercer counties) — Freeze-thaw cycles and heavy rain caused flooding in low areas and ice jams on other sections through mid-January. When conditions allowed for open-water fishing, one angler reported a small walleye, a sucker, and hits by northern pike up to 24-plus inches on small shiners.
Allegheny River (Venango County) — The middle river was high and muddy with ice sheets along the shoreline as of Jan. 18. Ice blockage was reported below Foxburg. These conditions, plus bitter cold, put the kibosh on fishing in recent weeks. In late December, anglers were catching walleyes on jigs and minnows and bladebaits in pool 6, although many were sub-legal in size. Smallmouth bass up to 18 inches were reported around Christmastime.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) —A few ice anglers were fishing on the south end as of mid-January, and reporting crappies, perch, and bluegills. As conditions allowed, walleyes, including some limits, also were being iced, but the bite was slow. Some walleyes were larger than 20 inches.
Canadohta Lake (Crawford County) — Anglers were icing crappies on this natural lake in mid-January.
Conneaut Lake (Crawford County) — Bluegills and northern pike were being iced on the north end in recent weeks, with maggot-, mealworm- or minnow-tipped jigs effective. Anglers also were targeting northern pike on shiner-rigged tip-ups.
Sugar Lake (Crawford County) —Some ice anglers were catching northern pike in mid-January.
Sugar Creek (Crawford County) — Before Christmas, in open water, anglers were catching rainbow and brown trout on Prince Nymph (12) patterns, bright-orange salmon eggs, and pieces of crawler.
Lake Wilhelm (Mercer County) — Crappies were reported around the Three Posts, as conditions allowed.
Laurel Hill Lake (Somerset County) — Trout and a few bluegills were reported through the ice in recent weeks.
Somerset Lake, Quemahoning Reservoir (Somerset County) — Anglers are reminded that Somerset is closed in anticipation of dam construction next year, and Quemahoning is always closed to ice fishing. Quemahoning’s tailrace is open to fishing.
Canonsburg Lake (Washington County) — Trout were hitting in recent weeks at this popular destination.
Cross Creek Lake (Washington County) — Anglers were catching a few panfish on butterworms through the ice in recent weeks.
Brady’s Run Lake (Beaver County) — Brown and brook trout were being iced on jigs tipped with maggots and waxworms. Small panfish also were hitting.
Raccoon Lake (Beaver County) — Rainbow trout and some nice-sized panfish were reported on minnows in recent weeks.
Twin Lakes (Westmoreland County) — Trout, panfish, and bass were being iced on jigs tipped with live bait in recent weeks.
Mammoth Lake (Westmoreland County) — Trout were taking jigs and live bait in recent weeks.
Acme Dam (Fayette County) — Yellow perch and some nice-sized sunfish were hitting waxworms and maggots in recent weeks.
Dunlap Lake, Virgin Run Lake (Fayette County) — Nice numbers of trout were reported along with the occasional crappie and bluegill, with Virgin Run yielding slightly larger trout.
Wisecarver Reservoir (Greene County — Numbers of panfish were hitting for ice anglers in recent weeks.
Lake Wilma (Greene County) — Anglers are reminded that ice fishing is not permitted on this lake.
Yellow Creek Lake (Indiana County) — Ice anglers reported bluegills, crappies, and largemouth bass in recent weeks, with waxworms effective.
Blue Spruce Lake (Indiana County) — Ice anglers were catching trout, crappies, and yellow perch on minnows.
High Point Lake (Somerset County) — Chain pickerel, largemouth bass, some yellow perch and a few small sunfish were reported at this 330-acre mountaintop impoundment.
Cranberry Glade Lake (Somerset County) — Northern pike up to 29 inches and two 16-inch largemouth bass were reported through the ice in recent weeks.
Hills Creek Lake (Tioga County) — A variety of panfish, pickerel and bass were reported on green, glow, and silver jigs, with afternoon hours producing the best bite.
Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Trout and panfish were hitting waxworms and minnows through mid-January, while shiners were the ticket for pickerel and bass.
Cowanesque Lake (Tioga County) — Panfish were hitting jigs, minnows and waxworms through Jan. 17.
Rose Valley Lake (Lycoming County) — Yellow perch, sunfish, bluegills and pickerel were reported through Jan. 17.
Lake Chilisquaque (Lyoming County) — Yellow perch and walleyes were hitting near Goose Cove, with just before and just after daybreak ideal times to target them.
Faylor Lake (Lycoming County) — Crappies, including some slabs, were hitting jigs and minnows in recent weeks.
Fishing Creek (Clinton County) — With water in the 40s in mid-January and running a little high and off-color, trout were holding in deep pools and near undercut banks, rocks and other structure. Streamers (6-10), nymphs, such as Iron Lotus (14-18), Frenchies (14-16), Goldbead Pheasant Tails (12-18), and Princes (12-16) were effective.
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake (Centre County) — Anglers were icing panfish such as yellow perch on waxworm-tipped jigs or tip-ups with fathead minnows. The occasional channel catfish and bass also were reported.
Juniata River (Juniata County) — High water and ice jams shut down fishing in mid-January.
Memorial Lake State Park Lake (Lebanon County) — Live minnows were taking crappies and bluegills through the ice in recent weeks.
Raystown Lake (Huntingdon County) — Anglers were icing perch and crappies on fathead minnows on tip-ups through mid-January.
Gifford Pinchot Lake (York County) — Panfish were being iced at Gifford Pinchot Lake in mid-January.
Mauch Chunk Lake (Carbon County) — Ice anglers were catching bass up to 15 inches, perch up to 13 and 14 inches, and pickerel near Boat Launch B in through mid-January. Most of the bass and pickerel were hitting on tip-ups baited with minnows, while the perch were caught on jigs tipped with waxworms or minnows.
Lehigh River — This waterway and other area streams were iced over enough to shut down fishing as of mid-January.
Lake Wallenpaupack (Pike County) — Numbers of perch and pickerel were reported, for the most part on live bait, through mid-January.
Lake Greeley (Pike County) — Bluegills were reported in recent weeks.
Shohola Lake (Pike County) — Bass and pickerel were reported through the ice in recent weeks.
Lackawanna River (Lackawanna County) — As conditions allowed in mid-January, anglers were targeting brown trout on streamers.
Lake Towhee (Bucks County) — Panfish were being iced on jigs tipped with waxworms and minnows in recent weeks. Chain pickerel were hitting jigging spoons and minnows.
Nockamixon Lake (Berks County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were catching muskies on creek chubs in less than 12 feet of water and panfish.
Delaware River — Ice had the water locked up in recent weeks.
Marsh Creek Lake (Berks County) — Yellow perch in mixed sizes were hitting tip ups baited with small mealworms or fathead shiners rigged about a foot off the bottom in recent weeks.
Compiled by Deborah Weisberg