Report from the Dock
At this issue’s deadline, short-term ice fishing prospects were hard to determine. A few days of sub-zero temps brought on by the so-called “bomb cyclone” quick-froze many lakes and generated reports of perhaps safe ice and fishing on a few, like Hills Creek and Hamilton. But with unseasonably warm weather expected as this issue went to press, it seems very likely little ice fishing actually occurred. Fishing pressure has been extremely light in recent weeks, however walleyes were caught at Pymatuning Lake, the Allegheny River, Tionesta Lake and the Susquehanna River. Trout were caught at fall-stocked lakes such as Dunlap, North Park, Rowena, Duman, Canansburg and Winola. Before the frigid weather, steelhead were hitting on single eggs and black mini-jigs tipped with maggots on Erie tributaries. A 17-pound steelhead and two 16-pounders reportedly were landed on Elk Creek.
Anglers anticipating ice-fishing season are urged to ensure they understand safe practices while venturing onto frozen surfaces. For more, visit www.fishandboat.com.
Boaters are reminded that from Nov. 1 through April 30, personal flotation devices (life jackets) must be worn at all times while on board any canoe, kayak, or boat less than 16 feet in length.
Lake Erie — A walleye night bite off the piers was reported in mid-December with fish up to 8 pounds caught. An angler released a lake trout in early December by vertically jigging with SteelShad baits, and found fish congregating around ledges and boulders in 15 to 20 feet of water. Other anglers were catching lake trout on white tubes and white hair jigs inside the North East Marina.
Presque Isle Bay — Perch were hit or miss in mid-December.
Lake Erie tributaries — The east side “mile” streams had nice numbers of steelhead, which were hitting on single eggs and black mini-jigs tipped with maggots as of mid-December. A 17.25-pound steelhead and a couple of 16-pounders were reportedly landed on Elk Creek.
French Creek (Erie, Crawford, Venango, Lawrence counties) — Smallmouth bass were hitting for an angler wade-fishing in early December. In late November, another angler caught a 22.5-inch walleye and a 20-inch brown trout.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) — Walleyes were coming on blade baits in the open water of mid-December, with some limits reported. A lot of sub-legal fish also were reported. At the same time, a few crappies were hitting, mostly on soft plastics. Crappies and bluegills were reported off the Jamestown docks.
Beaver River (Lawrence County) — Smallmouth bass were biting stick baits with chartreuse-colored bellies through mid-December.
Lake Arthur (Butler County) — Numbers of yellow perch were hitting, mostly on minnows, near boat launches.
Tionesta Lake (Forest County) — Muskies, walleyes, and northern pike were reported in the outflow near the wall and campground side through mid-December. The lake is a muskie fishery that some anglers target by trolling the shoreline until water freezes.
Allegheny River (Forest County) — Anglers were catching walleyes and northern pike in the Tionesta pool as conditions allowed in recent weeks. Boaters were having success, as were anglers on shore near the boat ramp and the point of the island.
North Park Lake (Allegheny County) — This popular, county-owned lake in McCandless Township received some nice-size brown trout this fall.
Wilmore Reservoir (Cambria County) — Large crappies were hitting on jigs and minnows through mid-December.
Lake Rowena, Duman Lake — Fall-stocked trout were hitting through mid-December.
Dunlap Lake (Fayette County) — Bluegills and recently stocked trout were hitting near the boat launch and the pipes at this small impoundment through mid-December.
Youghiogheny River — Trout were reported from Connellsville to Ohiopyle on this Monongahela River tributary through mid-December. Some of the deeper holes were yielding muskies.
Youghiogheny Reservoir (Fayette, Somerset counties) — Channel catfish and smallmouths were hitting through mid-December. The tailrace was producing trout on live and artificial baits.
Monongahela River — Muskie releases were reported near the mouths of tributaries through mid-December. Walleyes, saugers, and channel catfish were being caught below the locks.
Lake Wilma (Greene County) — Anglers were catching panfish on this 19-acre lake in recent weeks.
Canonsburg Lake (Washington County) — Trout were hitting on scented artificials fished on the bottom, and on live minnows about 3 feet under floats.
Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Anglers can look forward to catching recently stocked trout on this 67-acre impoundment.
West Branch of the Susquehanna River — Anglers caught muskies during higher-flow conditions in mid-December. The sections running through Clearfield and Curwensville were providing for nice catches of trout, with spinners and small spoons effective.
Hills Creek Lake, Hamilton Lake (Tioga County) — Tackle Shack reported Dec. 22 that a couple of ice anglers were catching bluegills and perch days before the area was expected to get snow and dangerously cold temperatures. Anglers are advised to exercise extreme caution when ice fishing.
Susquehanna River — B & B Lures Tackle Shop reports that anglers were releasing some nice smallmouths as of Dec. 19, with a number of fish coming on Z-Man Jackhammers, a new bladebait.
Little Juniata River (Huntingdon County) — TCO Outdoors reported Dec. 21 that the river was in good shape, although precipitation in the forecast could elevate flow. Water was, at best, in the low 40s with good color, and streamers and nymphs were producing fish. Blue-winged olives (20-24) and midge hatches (20-26) were providing top-water action, sporadically, on milder days. Although the trout spawn was over, anglers were urged to tread carefully to avoid disturbing eggs and developing fish.
Susquehanna River — Some nice-size walleyes and smallmouth bass were reported in early December on jigs and jerkbaits worked slowly.
Lake Winola (Wyoming County) — On the milder days of December, trout up to 18 inches were hitting on pastebaits and live baits trolled slowly.
Lehigh Canal (Northampton County) — Anglers were targeting bass in mid-December.
Saucon Creek (Northampton County) — Fly-anglers were targeting trout in Saucon Park and upstream in December.
Delaware, Schuylkill rivers — Sportmaster Bait and Tackle reported Dec 22 that a few catfish were hitting, but the bigger flatheads weren’t active. A few 20-pound catfish were being caught. Some carp also were biting.
Pennypack Creek (Bucks, Montgomery counties) — Sportmaster was getting a few late December reports about trout, as conditions allowed.
New Jersey saltwater — Sportmaster reported Dec. 22 that striper action continued with fish hitting in the surf. They were following “peanut” bunkers and sand eels. Fewer tautog were being caught off the jetties as fish were moving deeper.
Maryland freshwater — Smallmouth bass and striped bass were hitting through Dec. 19 on Liberty Reservoir in Sykesville.
— Compiled by Deborah Weisberg