Report from the Dock
The torrid dry spell that started July 4th put the kibosh on most stream fishing for stocked trout across the state. By the time this issue went to press, most waters were very low and clear and most streams were too warm for trout to survive. Fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass has remained good on topwaters and soft plastics in many lakes across the state, and walleyes have been biting on trolled crawler harnesses at Pymatuning Lake, Canadohta Lake, Youghiogheny River Reservoir, Eaton Reservoir and Quemahoning Reservoir. Catfishing is heating up as it does every summer, with the bite especially strong in the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers – both channel cats and flatheads on frozen shrimp and chicken livers, flatheads on live bluegills – and Youghiogheny River Reservoir, Yellow Creek Lake, the Susquehanna River, Holman Lake and Pequea Creek.
By July 4th, Pennsylvania was experiencing hot, dry weather. Many of the reports below reflect catches made before the heat wave set in. Anglers are reminded to avoid most trout streams during extreme conditions as cold-water fish are already stressed.
Lake Erie — Numbers of smallmouth bass and freshwater drum were reported through June 29. A few walleyes were reported off the north and south piers after dark. Walleye catches were also reported east of Shade’s Beach at 35 to 40 feet during the day, and in 10 to 15 feet by anglers trolling the same area at night. Poor Richard’s Bait and Tackle reported shallow walleyes in 20 to 30 feet both east and west of Walnut Creek, with worm harnesses and Erie Dearies in chartreuse effective, and 40 feet down in 50 to 60 feet out from Walnut Creek, with purple, blue or green plugs productive. Limits were reported by some anglers, and fish were measuring up to 22 inches. Elk Creek Sports Center reported walleyes straight out of Elk in 36 to 45 feet, but no limits.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County) — With the smallmouth spawn over, fish were moving from the bay to the main lake, where anglers were doing well on swimbaits, grubs and Ned Rigs in late June. Largemouth bass up to 18 inches were hitting in early July, with plastic worms effective.
Eaton Reservoir (Erie County) — Largemouth and smallmouth bass and a few walleyes were hitting at the end of June.
French Creek (Erie, Venango, Crawford, Mercer counties) — Despite warm, low, clear conditions in mid-June, post-spawn bass were released on soft plastics, with some fish running 14 and 15 inches.
Pymatuning Lake (Crawford County) — Some walleyes were reported through the end of June by anglers trolling crawler harness and hot n tots, and crankbaits. Anglers using inline planer boards were a bit more successful. Perch were hitting on the south end and muskie releases were reported by anglers trolling. Catfish abound in this lake. One weighed in at 39 pounds. Crappies were not active but anglers were catching largemouth bass up to 4 pounds, with chatterbait fished over shallow weeds effective.
Canadohta Lake (Crawford County) — This deep natural lake was yielding walleyes on leeches, crawlers or medium shiners through the end of June, along with the occasional muskie and northern pike.
Lake Wilhelm (Mercer County) — Walleyes were inactive, but crappies were still reported at the end of June, with anglers doing well on a Ned Rigs and soft plastic grubs where baitfish were schooling. Largemouth bass, up to 13 inches, were in the same area through early July.
Shenango River Reservoir (Mercer County) — Hybrid striped bass and largemouth bass were schooling at the end of June. One angler reported catching the hybrid stripers on shad-pattern stick baits. Panfish had gone deeper. Crappies were suspended about eight feet below the surface and other fish were on the bottom. Soft plastic baby shad jigs, and spinners were effective.
Oil Creek (Venango County) — One angler caught smallmouth on tinted and flavored nightcrawlers in late June.
Sugar Creek (Venango County) — As conditions allowed in late June, one angler released five brown trout up to 14 inches and a rainbow that measured 18 inches.
Justus Lake (Venango County) — Some nice trout were released on crawlers by the dam through late June. Largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were reported on live creek bait, with four of the largemouths meeting the 15-inch minimum on this Big Bass Program fishery.
Allegheny River (Venango County) — Smallmouth bass were moving into their summer pattern by late June. Although water was low and clear, bass were biting soft jerkbaits, plastic grubs, crankbaits and other artificials. A couple of anglers had a 37-inch muskie hook-up on a 12-inch trout swimbait, plus other follows.
Lake Arthur (Butler County) — Largemouth bass were biting in recent weeks, with anglers finding them in weed beds during hot conditions.
Canonsburg Dam (Washington County) — Black crappies up to 12 inches and 8 ounces were reported in early July.
Youghiogheny River Reservoir (Somerset County) — Walleyes and channel catfish were reported through July 1.
Laurel Hull Lake (Somerset County) — Trout were hitting as conditions allowed in recent weeks.
Quemahoning Reservoir (Somerset County) Northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and a few walleyes were reported through July 1.
High Point Lake (Somerset County)Bluegills, largemouth bass, and yellow perch were reported at this lake near Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania, in recent weeks.
Loyalhanna Creek (Westmoreland County) — The Keystone Select Trout Waters stretch was yielding trout on artificial lures in recent weeks.
Conemaugh River Lake (Westmoreland County) — Crappies, yellow perch, and smallmouth and largemouth bass were reported on smaller minnows, with dawn and dusk the optimal times to catch fish.
Allegheny, Monongahela, Ohio rivers (Pittsburgh) — Catfish were biting in frozen shrimp and chicken livers in recent weeks. Bass were hitting on crankbaits and minnows, while the occasional muskie was reported on a large swim bait. One muskie caught near a tributary measured 48 inches. Channel catfish were taking chicken livers and shrimp.
North Park Lake (Allegheny County) — A 16-inch largemouth bass was released on a wacky rig on this small lake near Pittsburgh July 4.
Yellow Creek Lake (Indiana County) — Catfish and northern pike were hitting through late June, with waxworms and minnows productive.
Blue Spruce Lake (Indiana County) — Prior to the recent heat wave, there was a morning bite on trout.
Spring Creek (Centre County) — TCO Fly Shop reported good conditions July 5. Fish were rising to the occasional Cahill (14-16), and Tan Caddis (14-18) late in the evening. Water was clear and in the mid-60s and temperatures were better on the lower ring below Bellefonte. Blue-winged olives (20-24) were hatching along with caddis and fish were rising to them, more so on cloudy days. Nymphing small dark patterns was effective. Ants, Green Weenies, and Walt’s Worms (12-16) were recommended.
Lower Pine Creek (Lycoming County) — Smallmouth bass were hitting in some of the deeper pools and runs with topwater lures and poppers effective in the early morning and late evening hours. Jigs with artificial swim baits and jerkbaits in natural colors were productive during the day. Fly-anglers were catching bass on streamers.
Bald Eagle Creek (Centre County) — Average flow was reported with water south of the lake in the low 60s. Trout were taking nymphs in deeper runs and tail-outs. Streamers were effective.
Holman Lake (Perry County) — Panfish were reported during the day with fish being targeted deeper during hot humid conditions. Small crawlers on the bottom were catching bluegills and perch. Catfish were taking live baits and cutbaits at night.
Susquehanna River (York County) — Flathead catfish were hitting on live bluegills and channel catfish were taking chicken livers and stinkbaits in recent weeks.
Delaware River (Wayne County) — Boaters are advised that the Buckingham Access is expected to stay closed through July 17 for repaving. There will be no public access during that time.
Susquehanna River (Columbia, Luzerne counties) — Fluctuating conditions made for inconsistent fishing through the end of June. The better bass bites were on soft plastics and crankbaits in the deeper holes. Channel catfish were active.
Lake Nockamixon (Bucks County) — Chain pickerel up to 24 inches were reported through early July, with crawlers effective.
Lehigh Canal (Northampton County) — Largemouth bass and bluegills were hitting through the end of June.
Lehigh River — Largemouth bass were reported near City Park Island by boaters in recent weeks.
Minsi Lake (Northampton County) — Anglers are reminded that the lake is filled and yielding fish near new habitat structures.
Delaware River, Lehigh River — The Fish & Boat Commission advises the public that the Sandts Eddy access on the Delaware and the Route 33 access on the Lehigh are for fishing and boating purposes exclusively and all other uses, including tubing to or from these properties, are prohibited.
Pequea Creek (Lancaster, Chester counties) — Flathead catfish up to 16 pounds were reported on bluegills and hog suckers in early July.
Susquehanna River (Wyoming County) — Numbers of smallmouth bass and a hybrid striper were reported by anglers in early July.
— Compiled by Deborah Weisberg