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Pennsylvania Fishing Report – July 23, 2020

Report from the Dock

As this issue went to press, a scorching stretch of weather still gripped the state, with nearly two weeks of near 90-degree and even warmer daytime temperatures. Even worse, the nighttime lows in many places barely sink into the 60s, so there wasn’t much relief for the fish. Stocked trout were in distress in many waters where they survived, tightly clustered around cold-water sources. Of more concern than stocked fish – which are put into streams for anglers to catch – are wild-trout populations that are jeopardized by the extreme heat. Trout prefer water temperatures in the upper-50s to mid-60s and become increasingly stressed when water temperatures climb above 70°F. The stress of being caught by an angler when water temperatures are this warm makes it much more likely that the trout will die after being released.

Fishing pressure was light across much of the state in recent weeks as hot, humid weather prevailed. 

Anglers are advised that trout become stressed when water is low and warm and oxygen levels are poor. 


Lake Erie — As of July 17, walleyes were hitting in 45 feet, and in 60-feet-plus, with stickbaits on lead core or snap weights, and dipsy divers with worm harnesses or spoons effective. Lake trout were reported on plugs out of Northeast Marina. East of the marina at the Ws, anglers were catching smallmouth bass in 30 feet on drop shot rigs and jerkbaits.


Lake Pleasant (Erie County) — Panfish were hitting under bobbers with crawlers on this small natural lake in recent weeks.


Edinboro Lake (Erie County) — Anglers were catching largemouth bass through mid-July.


French Creek (Erie, Mercer, Venango, Crawford counties) — Smallmouth bass were biting in recent weeks, with soft plastic jerkbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits effective. 


Wolf Creek (Mercer County) — An angler caught a 15-inch smallmouth bass on a Rooster Tail in mid-July.


Allegheny River (Venango County) — Smallmouth bass up to 20 inches and the occasional walleye were hitting through July 12, although fishing pressure was down in the hot weather. Reaction baits were effective, although some action was coming on finesse baits, and surface lures. Conditions were low, clear and very warm. 


Oil Creek (Venango County) — Smallmouth bass were hitting through early July.


Sugar Creek (Venango County) — Two anglers caught several trout and a few smallmouth bass on nightcrawlers, waxworms and redworms in low flow during a day of fishing earlier in July, but the bite was slow.


Justus Lake (Venango County) — Trout were hitting on live minnows and crawlers in 30 feet of water near the dam. Anglers were catching largemouth bass, including a 24-incher, in deep water. Bluegills were reported on ants and jigs.


Conneaut Lake (Crawford County) — Northern pike, muskies, and bass were reported on this large natural lake in recent weeks, with topwater lures productive in the  early morning and late evening hours.


Canadohta Lake (Crawford County) — Rock bass and largemouth bass were hitting on this deep natural lake in recent weeks.


Geneva Swamp (Crawford County) — Bowfins were released on cutbaits and stickbaits in recent weeks.


Woodcock Creek Lake (Crawford County) — Walleyes, muskies and smallmouth bass were reported in recent weeks. A few small walleyes and muskies were hitting below the dam.


Lake Arthur (Butler County)  Largemouth bass up to 4 pounds, smallmouth bass up to 3 pounds, and some crappies, perch, and catfish were reported through July 17.


Allegheny River (Armstrong County) — A 22-inch walleye and a few smaller ones were released in mid-July.


Cross Creek Lake (Washington County) — Largemouth bass and brown bullheads were reported on crawlers as of July 17.


Monongahela River (Washington, Greene counties) — The early-morning smallmouth bass bite was effective on topwater lures in recent weeks. Flathead catfish also were reported. Channel catfish were active near the confluence of larger tributaries, such as Tenmile Creek, Dunkard Creek, Pigeon Creek, and the Cheat and Youghiogheny rivers.


Dutch Fork Creek, Dutch Fork Lake, Enlow Fork (Washington County) — Trout were reported in recent weeks.


North Park Lake (Allegheny County) — Largemouth bass were hitting on jigs through July 17.


Yellow Creek Lake (Indiana County) — Common carp were hitting on dough balls and sweet corn through July 15.


Quemahoning Reservoir (Somerset County) — Walleyes and northern pike were hitting through mid-July.


Cranberry Glade Lake (Somerset County) — Bullhead catfish were reported through mid-July.


Laurel Hill Lake (Somerset County) — Trout were reported in the channel in recent weeks.


Youghiogheny River Reservoir (Westmoreland County) — Walleyes and bluegills were reported through mid-July.


Kiskiminetas River (Westmoreland County) — Nice numbers of smallmouth bass were hitting in the early morning and late evening hours. A nighttime catfish bite also was reported. 


Conemaugh River (Cambria County) — Water levels were dropping in mid-July, prompting anglers to skip boating and target fish from shore. Bass and panfish were hitting minnows and jigs, and catfish were biting at night out of Livermore access. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission advises anglers to exercise caution when walking the shoreline at Conemaugh River Lake and Loyalhanna Reservoir. Large sediment deposits are crusted over but wet underneath, and the wet material is extremely difficult to get out of. 


Cowanesque Lake (Tioga County) — Largemouth bass were hitting near shore and in deeper water in early July. Smallmouth bass were reported on crayfish. 


Tioga River Spillway (Tioga County) — Hybrid striped bass were released on live minnows and white plastics in early July. Channel catfish were taking cut bait, chicken livers, and hotdog chunks. The Fish & Boat Commission reminds anglers to stay out of the marked exclusion area for safety reasons. 


West Branch Susquehanna River  A few bass and walleyes were reported in deeper pools and cold water influences such as tributary and spring seeps. Artificials were working, as were jigs tipped with crawlers. Catfish were hitting nightcrawlers and chicken livers in deeper pools.


Susquehanna River (Northumber–land, Snyder counties) — Smallmouth bass were released on spoons and minnows around Sunbury in early July. The Fish & Boat Commission reminds anglers that the exclusion zone for the Fabri Dam and PPL dam is 100 feet from the boil. As water levels allow, buoys are in place and boats inside this zone are being cited.


Walker, Faylor lakes (Snyder County) — Panfish were reported at both in early July, with small jigs and crawlers and minnows effective. Small artificials also were working. 


Raystown Lake (Huntingdon County) — Largemouth bass up to 18 inches were reported on spinnerbaits through mid-July.


Juniata River (Juniata County) — Smallmouth bass were active on live bait through July 15. Hellgrammites, shiners, and stonecats were the tickets when fished in areas with larger rocks or deeper pools. Water was warm and low by mid-July.


Holman Lake (Perry County) — Largemouth bass up to 17-plus inches were released on stickbaits on this Little Buffalo State Park impoundment in mid-July. Panfish were reported in deeper water because surface temperatures were so warm.


Juniata River (Perry County) — Channel and flathead catfish were reported on cut bait and live bait at night in recent weeks.


Susquehanna River — Nice numbers of smallmouth bass were reported on live baits and artificials, but sizes have been running small in early July. 


North Branch of Susquehanna River — Bass were biting on tubes, topwater lures, and crankbaits in the early morning hours of early July.


Walnutport Canal (Northampton County) — Largemouth bass were reported through mid-July.


Lake Ontelaunee (Berks County) — Bluegills were biting on crawlers through July 17.


Owl Creek Reservoir (Schuylkill County) — Largemouth bass were hitting through mid-July.


Delaware River — Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle reported light pressure because of hot, humid conditions July 18, but anglers were catching catfish and carp as well as bass.


Schuylkill River — Brinkman’s reported numbers of catfish were being caught as of July 18.


New Jersey saltwater report — Sea bass season ended in mid-July with nice catches reported. Brinkman’s reported July 18 that fluke, or summer flounder, were starting to kick, with fish in double-digit weights being caught. Ling cod, a summer favorite, also were being caught, and, off-shore, the tuna bite was very good.


— Compiled by Deborah Weisberg

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