The polar vortex at the end of January locked up rivers and hastened ice formation on lakes in much of Pennsylvania, only to be followed by unseasonably mild weather. Anglers are urged to exercise extreme caution when venturing onto frozen surfaces. For ice-fishing safety tips, visit www.fishandboat.com.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County) — As of Feb. 1, perch were being iced in Presque Isle Bay, Misery Bay, Horseshoe Pond, and, to a lesser degree, off Chestnut at the end of January. FishErie.com reported some of the shallower water (about 5 feet) and near break lines were yielding fish. Walleyes also were being iced. Misery Bay was yielding crappies, and northern pike were hitting in Horseshoe Pond.
Lake Erie tributaries — Conditions cycled from frozen to thawed to frozen again through mid-to-late January.
Eaton Reservoir (Erie County) — Walleyes and crappies were reported at the end of January.
Lake Pleasant (Erie County) — This small, natural lake was yielding trout, large crappies in eight to 15 feet, and bluegills in slightly deeper water for ice anglers in late January.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) — Gateway Bait in Andover, Ohio, reported Jan. 31 that anglers were catching walleyes and perch off the Ohio campground and by the marina. Before lakes were fully frozen in late January, anglers were catching bluegills and a few perch around the Jamestown docks, off the Ohio campground and off Westford. One angler limited out on walleyes up to 23 inches and released two others, 26 and 27 inches. Tuttle Point had reopened as of Jan. 31.
Conneaut Lake (Crawford County) — Gateway Bait reported that anglers were icing numbers of northern pike and large bluegills on this large glacial lake in late January.
Canadohta Lake (Crawford County) — Timberland Bait reported heavy ice-fishing pressure in late January. Crappies were suspended over brush piles.
Lake Wilhelm (Mercer County) — Ice anglers were catching crappies on jigs and minnows and other presentations in 15 to 20 feet toward the dam as of late January. Numbers of bluegills and perch were hitting on jigs tipped with maggots and wax worms in six to seven feet off Bachop Road boat launch toward the stumps.
Allegheny River (Venango County) — Prior to a freeze-up, anglers in mid-January were catching nice-size walleyes, mostly on jigs and minnows.
North Park Lake (Allegheny County) — Ice-anglers were targeting trout on this popular county-owned impoundment in late January.
Youghiogheny River Reservoir (Somerset County) — The tailrace of this fishery was yielding some rainbow and brown trout in the morning hours and at dusk at the end of January.
Cranberry Glade Lake (Somerset County) — Northern pike were reported in late January.
Hamilton Lake (Tioga County) — Ice anglers were making nice catches of trout and panfish on waxworms, minnows, and shiners in late January.
Hills Creek Lake (Tioga County) — Yellow perch and bluegills were being iced on soft plastics and wax worms, and bass were biting minnows and shiners through the end of January. A few chain pickerel also were reported.
Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Ice anglers were catching panfish and trout on waxworms, minnows, shiners and soft plastics at the end of January.
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake (Centre County) — Panfish were biting on gold 3 mm tungsten tear drops with spikes, as well as on minnows and shiners.
Spring Creek (Centre County) — Good conditions were reported in late January on this limestone stream, and anglers were catching trout on olive or black streamers (4-8) and nymphs, such as Squirmy Wormies (12), Walt’s Worms (12-16), and Olive Scuds (14-16).
Fishing Creek (Clinton County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were catching trout on small streamers, such as sculpins and sparkle minnows (4-8), and nymphs, including Flashback Pheasant Tails (14-18), and black or brown Stoneflies (8-12), fished on the bottom.
Stovers Dam (Lebanon County) — Cobles Bait and Tackle reported Feb. 2 that ice fishermen were catching trout, bass, bluegills, the occasional crappie and other panfish.
Memorial Lake (Lebanon County) — Coble’s reported Feb. 3 that anglers were catching bass and chain pickerel on tip-ups, and panfish by jigging live bait.
Middlecreek Wildlife Management Area Lake (Lebanon, Lancaster counties) Bass were being iced as of Feb. 3 on this 400-acre lake. Crappies also were reported but not as many or as many slabs as in previous years, according to Coble’s Bait.
Quittapahilla Creek (Lebanon County) — Nice trout were reported on live bait and powerbait as conditions allowed through Feb. 3.
Yellow Breeches Creek (Cumberland County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were catching trout on PowerBait in mid-January.
Holman Lake (Perry County) — Perch, trout and bluegills were reported hitting through the ice on this Little Buffalo State Park impoundment through late January. Small ice jigs with minnows or waxworms were productive.
Stevens Lake (Wyoming County) — Ice anglers were catching largemouth bass on minnows by targeting deeper water through the end of January.
Lake Carey (Wyoming County) — The bite was slower here than at Stevens, but anglers were catching some nice-size yellow perch on waxworms fished early and late in the day.
Lake Wallenpaupack (Pike County) — Hunters Gallery reported Feb. 3 that anglers were catching large stripers, including one, in a tournament, that measured 38 inches, muskies up to 38 and 40 inches, walleyes, and numbers of crappies, nice-size perch, and bluegills. A couple of anglers reportedly went through the ice around Eppley Island, but made it to safety.
Prompton Dam, Belmont Lake (Wayne County) — Hunters Gallery reported nice numbers of perch up to 13 inches and panfish were being iced on jigs and waxworms, as of Feb. 3.
Upper Woods Pond (Wayne County) — Anglers jigging waxworms were icing nice numbers of panfish and trout through Feb. 3.
Lake Shohola, Pecks Pond, Promised Land Lake (Pike County) — Ice fishermen were catching bass on Shohola as well as numbers of panfish, which were hitting on all three lakes.
Susquehanna, Delaware rivers — Until these waterways got locked up with ice at the end of January, anglers were catching walleyes.
Lake Ontelaunee (Berks County)
The Peter’s Creek area was yielding numbers of bass and panfish, including nice crappies and yellow perch, on jigs and tip-ups.
Tusacarora Creek (Berks County)
Coble’s reported that really nice trout up to 20 inches were being landed on powerbait, mealworms, redworms, and minnows, as conditions allowed.
Leaser Lake (Lehigh County) — Ice fishing pressure was high at the end of January and anglers reported catching muskies on jigging rods with small shiners. Anglers are reminded that this is a catch-and-release only/no harvest fishery except for trout.
Locust lake (Schuylkill County) — Nice numbers of trout were being iced near the beach area at the end of January, with waxworm-tipped jigs the ticket.
Tuscarora Lake (Schuylkill County) — Catches were hit or miss for ice fishermen at the end of January, although a nice number of trout were reported along the beach and near the boat cove. Perch and crappies were occasionally reported near the breast of the dam. Chain pickerel were hitting on large shiners at the shallow end of the lake near the mouth of Locust Creek.
Compiled by Deborah Weisberg