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Fishing in Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Best Locations and Fish Species

Introduction to Fishing in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and even a border with the Great Lakes. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to catch your first fish, Pennsylvania offers a range of opportunities that will satisfy any angler’s appetite.

In this article, we will explore the best fish to catch in Pennsylvania and the prime locations to reel them in. From walleye to trout to bass, Pennsylvania’s waterways are teeming with a variety of fish that will provide an unforgettable fishing experience.

1. Abundance of Lakes, Rivers, and Great Lakes Border

Pennsylvania is blessed with an impressive natural landscape that includes over 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, more than 2,500 lakes, and a border with the Great Lakes.

It’s no wonder that the state is a haven for fishing enthusiasts. The rivers of Pennsylvania, such as the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River, offer a diverse range of fish species.

From smallmouth bass to catfish to trout, these rivers provide an opportunity for anglers of all skill levels to catch their desired fish. For those looking to cast their lines in a lake, Pennsylvania offers numerous options.

Lake Wallenpaupack, located in the Pocono Mountains, is a popular spot for fishing. With its abundance of largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch, anglers are bound to have a thrilling fishing experience.

If you’re up for a challenge, head to Lake Erie, which borders Pennsylvania to the northwest. Known for its fantastic walleye fishing, Lake Erie attracts anglers from all over the country.

The lake’s shallow waters and abundance of baitfish make it an ideal spot for reeling in walleye. 2.

Purpose of the Article and Fish Selection

The purpose of this article is to provide readers with a comprehensive guide to fishing in Pennsylvania. We aim to educate anglers on the best fish to catch in the state and the prime locations to find them.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, this article will equip you with the knowledge needed to have a successful and enjoyable fishing experience. When it comes to selecting the best fish to catch in Pennsylvania, there are several factors to consider.

The availability of the fish, their size, and the challenge they offer all play a role in determining the best selections. Additionally, we will focus on fish that are popular among anglers for their fighting ability and taste.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the world of fishing in Pennsylvania and discover the best fish to catch in the state’s bountiful waters.


1. Locations and Season for

Walleye Fishing

Walleye, also known as yellow pike or pickerel, is a highly sought-after fish in Pennsylvania. With their sharp teeth, excellent eyesight, and elusive nature, walleye provide both a challenge and a thrill for anglers.

To increase your chances of catching walleye, it’s crucial to know the prime locations and the best season for fishing. The Delaware River and the Susquehanna River are two hotspots for walleye fishing in Pennsylvania.

Both rivers offer vast stretches of water where walleye can be found, particularly in deeper pools and undercuts. In addition to rivers, lakes also offer excellent walleye fishing opportunities.

Lake Wallenpaupack, mentioned earlier, is known for its walleye population. Anglers often flock to this lake during the spring and fall, when walleye are more active and feeding.

For those willing to venture to the shores of Lake Erie, the rewards can be bountiful. The prime season for walleye fishing in Lake Erie is from April to June, when the fish move closer to shore for spawning.

Keep in mind that the lake’s waters can be challenging, so it’s essential to be well-prepared and familiar with local regulations and safety precautions. 2.

Tips for Catching


Catching walleye requires employing various strategies and techniques. Here are some tips to increase your chances of success:

– Choose the right bait:

Walleye are known for being finicky eaters, so it’s essential to select the right bait.

Experienced anglers recommend using live bait or lures that mimic the fish’s natural prey, such as minnows, leeches, or nightcrawlers. – Time your fishing trips:

Walleye are most active during dawn and dusk hours, making these the best times to target them.

Early morning or late afternoon fishing expeditions are likely to yield the most results. – Pay attention to water conditions: Factors such as water temperature, clarity, and current play a crucial role in walleye behavior.

Understanding these factors will help you choose the right fishing spot and adjust your techniques accordingly. – Keep your approach stealthy:

Walleye are known for their excellent eyesight, so it’s essential to maintain a stealthy approach.

Avoid excessive noise and use light fishing line to minimize visibility and increase your chances of success.


Pennsylvania offers a wealth of fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. With its abundance of rivers, lakes, and a border with the Great Lakes, the state is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts.

Whether you’re after walleye, trout, bass, or any other fish species that call Pennsylvania home, the state’s waterways have something for everyone. By understanding the prime locations, seasonality, and employing the right techniques, anglers can increase their chances of having a successful fishing trip.

Whether you’re exploring the rivers of Pennsylvania or venturing out to Lake Erie, the thrill of catching your desired fish awaits. So grab your fishing gear, familiarize yourself with local regulations, and embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania.

Happy fishing!

Flathead Catfish

1. Rarity and Large Size of

Flathead Catfish

When it comes to the fascinating world of fishing, few fish can compare to the flathead catfish.

Known for its rarity and large size, the flathead catfish provides a thrilling challenge for anglers in Pennsylvania. One of the reasons why the flathead catfish is so highly regarded is its scarcity.

Unlike other species, flathead catfish are not commonly found in every body of water. However, Pennsylvania is fortunate to be home to some prime spots where anglers can seek out these elusive giants.

The flathead catfish’s size is equally impressive. They can grow to enormous lengths, with some specimens reaching up to 50 pounds or more.

For anglers seeking a trophy catch, few fish can rival the flathead catfish in terms of size and distinction. 2.

Fishing Techniques and Bait for

Flathead Catfish

To successfully target flathead catfish, it’s important to understand their preferred habitat and employ the right fishing techniques. In Pennsylvania, one prime location for flathead catfish is the Susquehanna River, particularly in its lower third.

This section of the river is known for its deep pools and rocky structures, which provide an ideal environment for flathead catfish to thrive. Evening fishing is particularly productive when targeting flathead catfish.

These creatures are primarily nocturnal, and they tend to be more active during the twilight hours. As the sun sets and darkness falls, flathead catfish emerge to feed, presenting an excellent opportunity for anglers to hook into one of these remarkable fish.

When it comes to bait selection, live bait is often the preferred choice for flathead catfish. Large shiners, live bluegills, or even small carp make for effective bait options.

The best technique is to hook the live bait through the back, allowing it to swim freely and attract the attention of the flathead catfish. Given the flathead catfish’s large size and strength, it’s crucial to use heavy-duty gear and strong fishing lines.

Be prepared for a challenging fight, as these massive fish have the power to put up a significant struggle.

Rainbow Trout

1. Stocking and Presence of

Rainbow Trout in Pennsylvania Waters

Pennsylvania is renowned for its thriving population of rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for trout fishing enthusiasts.

The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife ensures a consistent presence of rainbow trout by regularly stocking various waters, ensuring an enjoyable fishing experience for anglers. The Delaware River, with its cool and clear waters, is one of the prime locations for rainbow trout fishing in Pennsylvania.

The river is frequently stocked with rainbow trout, attracting anglers from near and far. In addition to the Delaware River, other notable fisheries include the Youghiogheny River and the streams that flow into the Allegheny Reservoir.

For those looking for a unique trout fishing experience, Lake Erie is a gem worth exploring. The lake is home to a vibrant population of steelhead trout, a migratory form of rainbow trout that offers anglers a thrilling challenge.

From fall to spring, Lake Erie becomes a playground for dedicated trout fishermen, as these powerful fish migrate to the lake’s tributaries for spawning. 2.

Fishing Preferences and Bait for

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout are known for their preference for cool waters, making early mornings and evenings the best times to target them. During these hours, when temperatures are lower, rainbow trout are more active and more likely to take the bait.

When it comes to bait selection, live bait remains a reliable option for enticing rainbow trout. Worms, particularly nightcrawlers, are a classic choice that rarely disappoints.

For a unique twist, experiment with artificial baits that mimic the appearance and movement of insects, such as small spinnerbaits or soft plastic worms. Another effective bait that has stood the test of time is corn.

Rainbow trout are known to be attracted to the scent and bright color of corn kernels. Simply thread a few kernels onto your hook, adjusting the size of the hook and bait accordingly.

It’s important to note that corn is not legal in all waters, so be sure to familiarize yourself with local regulations before using this bait option. When it comes to fishing techniques, casting near structures such as rocks, fallen trees, or submerged vegetation is a smart strategy.

Rainbow trout often seek shelter and food in these areas, making them prime spots for angling success. It’s also beneficial to adapt your fishing technique based on the water conditions.

In faster-moving waters, employ a drift fishing technique by allowing your bait to naturally flow with the current. In calmer waters, a slow and steady retrieval can be more effective.


Pennsylvania offers a wealth of opportunities for anglers, whether they’re seeking the elusive flathead catfish or the vibrant rainbow trout. With its diverse waterways and regular stocking programs, the state allows fishing enthusiasts to pursue their passion and create unforgettable memories.

By understanding the habitats and behaviors of these fish, anglers can employ the right techniques and bait to increase their chances of success. From the lower third of the Susquehanna River for flathead catfish to the cool waters of the Delaware River for rainbow trout, Pennsylvania’s fishing scene beckons with excitement and adventure.

So gather your gear, check the regulations, and immerse yourself in the rich fishing culture of Pennsylvania. The waters await your casting prowess, promising the potential for unforgettable fishing experiences and the thrill of reeling in your desired catch.



Carp as an Accessible Fish with Varying Difficulty Levels

When it comes to accessible fishing opportunities, carp is a species that should not be overlooked.

Carp can be found in many of Pennsylvania’s waterways, offering a chance for anglers of all skill levels to reel in these hard-fighting fish. One of the reasons why carp are highly accessible is their abundance in various water bodies throughout the state.

From rivers to lakes to reservoirs, carp can be found in ample numbers, enticing anglers with their tenacity and fighting spirit.

Carp also provide the opportunity for anglers to challenge themselves at different difficulty levels. While catching small or average-sized carp may relatively easier, targeting trophy-sized specimens can be a true test of skill and patience.

These giants of the water can grow to massive sizes, weighing up to 40 pounds or more, offering anglers a thrilling battle. 2.

Fishing Locations and Bait for


Pennsylvania is home to several prime fishing locations where anglers can target carp. The Monongahela River and the Susquehanna River are two notable rivers that provide ample opportunities to catch carp.

Look for slower stretches of the river, such as deep pools or backwaters, where carp are known to congregate. For lake fishing, Lake Marburg and Raystown Lake are popular choices to seek out carp.

These lakes offer expansive waters where anglers can explore various spots and find success.

Carp can often be found in shallower areas near structures, such as submerged trees or weed beds, so keep an eye out for these key locations.

When it comes to bait selection, carp have a reputation for being opportunistic feeders, making it easier to entice them. Anglers commonly use corn as bait for carp, which can be threaded onto a hook or used in conjunction with a method feeder or a hair rig.

Packaged carp baits, such as boilies or pellets, can also be effective in attracting carp. Experiment with different bait options to see what works best in your chosen fishing spot.

Largemouth Bass

1. Popular and Widespread Presence of

Largemouth Bass in Pennsylvania

Largemouth bass are undoubtedly one of the most popular fish species in Pennsylvania.

With their aggressive strikes and fighting ability, largemouth bass offer anglers an exhilarating fishing experience. Pennsylvania is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and streams that harbor largemouth bass populations.

Shawnee Lake, Lake Wilhelm, and Lake Erie are widely recognized as prime locations for largemouth bass fishing. Additionally, French Creek and the Allegheny River provide diverse habitats that cater to largemouth bass populations.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, targeting largemouth bass in Pennsylvania is a rewarding pursuit. The state’s waters offer ample opportunities to catch these prized fish, making for memorable fishing trips and satisfying catches.

2. Habitat Preferences and Bait for

Largemouth Bass

Understanding the habitat preferences of largemouth bass is crucial for angling success.

Largemouth bass are known to seek shelter and ambush their prey near vegetation, fallen trees, and other structures. These areas provide cover and allow bass to hide before launching a surprise attack on passing prey.

When it comes to bait selection, largemouth bass respond well to a variety of options. Plastic worms, particularly in natural colors like green or black, are a popular choice among anglers targeting largemouth bass.

The lifelike action of these worms can entice bass into striking. Another effective option for targeting largemouth bass is using live bait, such as minnows or shiners.

Hook the bait through the lips or back to ensure it remains active and attracts the attention of nearby bass. In addition to live bait and plastic worms, lures can also be highly effective when targeting largemouth bass.

Topwater lures, such as poppers or buzzbaits, can create surface commotion and entice aggressive strikes. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jigs are also reliable options, allowing anglers to experiment with different retrieval techniques and presentations.


Pennsylvania offers a wealth of fishing opportunities, from targeting carp in various waterways to chasing after the highly popular largemouth bass. Both carp and largemouth bass provide anglers with exciting challenges and memorable fishing experiences.

Whether you prefer targeting carp for their accessibility and varying difficulty levels or love the thrill of reeling in largemouth bass, Pennsylvania’s waters have something to offer. Be sure to explore the prime fishing locations mentioned, try different bait options, and experiment with various techniques to increase your chances of success.

Remember to respect local regulations and practice responsible fishing practices to preserve the natural beauty and sustainability of Pennsylvania’s fisheries. So grab your fishing gear, venture out to your chosen spot, and immerse yourself in the joy of angling in the stunning waterways of Pennsylvania.

Adherence to Fishing Regulations

1. Importance of Following State and Local Laws While Fishing

When it comes to fishing, it’s not just about the thrill of catching a fish or enjoying the beauty of nature.

It’s also important to understand and adhere to fishing regulations that are in place to protect fish populations, maintain ecological balance, and ensure sustainability for future generations. Following state and local fishing laws and regulations is crucial for several reasons.

First and foremost, it helps preserve the fish population. Fishing regulations, such as bag limits and size limits, are designed to ensure that fish populations are not overexploited or harmed.

By adhering to these regulations, anglers can help maintain healthy fish populations and protect the overall ecosystem. Secondly, fishing regulations help maintain fair and ethical fishing practices.

They create a level playing field for all anglers, preventing any unfair advantage or exploitation. By following these regulations, all anglers have an equal opportunity to enjoy the sport and catch fish.

Lastly, fishing laws and regulations protect the habitats and environments where fish live. Rules related to fishing seasons, restricted areas, and catch-and-release practices help safeguard sensitive ecosystems and ensure the long-term health of fish habitats.

These regulations contribute to maintaining the overall balance of aquatic ecosystems and the preservation of biodiversity. 2.

Checking and Understanding Fishing Regulations

Before heading out on a fishing excursion, it’s crucial to check and understand the fishing regulations that apply to the specific location and species you plan to target. Here are some key aspects to consider:


Fishing Licenses: Most states require anglers to obtain a fishing license before they can legally fish. These licenses help fund conservation efforts and support wildlife management programs.

Make sure to obtain the appropriate fishing license for your age, residency, and the type of fishing you plan to engage in. Additionally, be aware of any additional permits or stamps that may be required for specific waters or species, such as a trout stamp or a special permit for certain bodies of water.

b. Time of Year Restrictions: Fishing regulations often include specific timeframes during which certain species may or may not be targeted.

For example, there may be closed seasons to protect fish during their spawning periods. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these time of year restrictions to avoid unintentionally fishing during closed seasons.

c. Size and Bag Limits: Size and bag limits refer to the minimum and maximum sizes and quantities of fish that can be harvested per angler.

These regulations aim to ensure that fish populations are not overexploited and that the fish have a chance to reproduce and replenish their numbers. Make sure to know the size and bag limits for the specific species you are targeting, as well as any special regulations that may apply to certain bodies of water.

d. Catch-and-Release Guidelines: Catch-and-release practices are vital for conservation and the long-term sustainability of fish populations.

Knowing how to properly handle fish and release them safely can greatly increase their chances of survival after being caught. Familiarize yourself with proper catch-and-release techniques, such as reducing handling time, using barbless hooks, and wetting hands before handling fish, to minimize stress and injury to the fish.

e. Restricted Areas: Some areas, such as protected marine reserves or designated wildlife refuges, may prohibit fishing or have specific regulations in place.

It is important to familiarize yourself with any restricted areas or zones where fishing is not allowed or is subject to special regulations. By taking the time to read and understand fishing regulations, anglers can ensure compliance and contribute to responsible fishing practices.

They can protect fish populations, preserve habitats, and demonstrate their commitment to the sustainability of our natural resources.


Fishing regulations exist for good reason to protect fish populations, ensure ethical practices, and maintain the long-term health of our aquatic ecosystems. Adhering to these regulations is not just a legal obligation but also a responsibility that all anglers should embrace.

By following state and local fishing laws, obtaining fishing licenses, and familiarizing themselves with specific regulations, anglers can contribute to the preservation of fish populations and habitats. Additionally, understanding fishing regulations enhances the overall fishing experience.

It helps anglers make informed decisions, ensures fair competition, and fosters a sense of stewardship towards the environment. So, before you cast your line, take the time to check and comprehend the fishing regulations that apply to your location and target species.

Respect the rules, practice responsible fishing, and enjoy the sport while safeguarding our precious aquatic resources for generations to come. In conclusion, adhering to fishing regulations is of utmost importance for anglers.

By following state and local laws, anglers contribute to the preservation of fish populations, maintain fair fishing practices, and protect the habitats where fish thrive. Checking and understanding fishing regulations, obtaining the necessary licenses, and practicing responsible catch-and-release techniques all contribute to sustainable fishing practices.

Let us fish responsibly, respecting the regulations in place, and cherish the opportunity to enjoy our beloved sport while safeguarding our natural resources for future generations.

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