The following reports reflect open-water angling. Frigid weather had just moved into the state as the reports were being compiled and most lakes had only skim ice. In anticipation of hard-water angling, anglers are advised to exercise extreme caution when venturing onto frozen surfaces.
For additional information, visit www.fishandboat.com This same site also includes the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s winter trout-stocking schedule.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County) — A slow but steady perch bite was reported as conditions allowed through mid-December. Some limits were reported, but sizes were mixed. Snowfall shut down fishing as of Dec. 13.
Lake Erie Tributaries — Angling pressure was very low, as was flow in the streams in mid-December, but steelhead were being taken on single eggs and minnows. Elk Creek Sports reported numbers of steelhead in the streams as of Dec. 12. While the lower end of Elk was locked up in ice, the upper reaches were fishable, although impending frigid temperatures were expected to change that.
French Creek (Erie, Crawford, Venango, Mercer counties) — Walleyes up to 25 inches were reported as conditions allowed last month, with some anglers doing well jigging floating jigheads tipped with medium-sized shiners, or chubs.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County) — Some nice bluegills and a few crappies were reported off the docks at the Jamestown Marina until mid-December, when frigid temperatures set in and skim ice began to form. Until then, anglers were catching walleyes on blade baits. One angler released a 47-inch muskie. Some perch were reported early in December.
Shenango Lake (Mercer County) — White bass and crappies were reported on soft plastic shad and minnow patterns. White bass were reported in the outflow of Shenango Dam. The outflow also yields northern pike, with one angler catching a 38-incher this year.
Allegheny River (Venango County) — Prior to the snow and frigid cold of mid-December, anglers were catching nice numbers of smallmouth bass up to 19 inches on hair jigs, tubes, and slow-rolled swimbaits and spinnerbaits. A good walleye bite also was reported as conditions allowed. Sizes were mixed, with one angler catching 16 walleyes, including five legal-size fish up to 28 inches, on shiners, and another angler limiting out on tubes and jerkbaits.
Lake Arthur (Butler County) — A few anglers began ice-fishing in the Muddy Creek arm of the lake Dec. 18, and reported catches of bass, crappies, bluegills and a few nice perch.
Blue Spruce Lake (Indiana County) — Nice catches of trout were reported on wax worms, maggots and bead-headed nymphs on this 12-acre lake in recent weeks.
Little Mahoning Creek (Indiana County) — Anglers were reporting nice catches of trout until temperatures turned frigid in mid-December. Anglers are reminded that the gates at the Mahoning Creek Dam Sportsmen’s Access and the Milton Loop are closed to vehicular traffic in anticipation of high water retention levels during the winter months.
Youghiogheny River (Fayette County) — The tailrace was yielding trout on pieces of nightcrawlers as conditions allowed.
Cheat River (Fayette County) — Walleyes were hitting on medium jigs and smaller diving lures as conditions allowed. White bass were hitting in the Lake Lynn area.
Canonsburg Dam, Dutch Fork Lake (Washington County) — These two popular trout fisheries were yielding nice catches as conditions allowed in recent weeks, with anglers doing well on past baits.
Ohio River — Live bait drifted slowly around structure was productive for some anglers as conditions allowed. On one of the milder days mid-month, anglers reported legal-size bass and walleyes up to 22 inches.
Monongahela River (Allegheny, Greene, Washington counties) —Walleyes, smallmouth bass, and hybrid striped bass were reported as conditions allowed. Most anglers were doing well with live bait fished on the bottom. Jerkbaits, medium-size jigs, and smaller diving lures also were productive.
Deer Lakes (Allegheny County) — Trout and panfish were reported as conditions allowed through mid-December, with minnows working for trout and panfish hitting on jigs tipped with live bait.
Beaver River (Beaver County) — Walleyes were hitting as conditions allowed, with jerkbaits and soft plastic swimbaits productive.
Raccoon Lake (Beaver County) — Trout were hitting near the dam as conditions allowed, with maggots and pastebaits productive.
Quemahoning Reservoir (Somerset County) — Northern pike were hitting around the Green Bridge area as conditions allowed. The lake is drawn down about 8 feet.
Laurel Hill Creek (Somerset County) — The Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section was yielding trout as conditions allowed, although fishing pressure was light.
Beechwood Lake (Tioga County) — Thin ice was covering cove areas and the backside of the lake as of Dec. 14.
Hamilton Lake (Tioga County) — Trout were hitting mealworms, waxworms, and pastebaits as conditions allowed, with many fish holding in the upper end of the lake by the boat launch.
Tioga Lake (Tioga County) —Yellow perch were biting live minnows as conditions allowed.
Fishing Creek (Lycoming County) — The bite was slow through mid-December, but, as conditions allowed, anglers were catching trout on nymphs, such as Gold Bead Pheasant Tail (12-18), and olive or green caddis larvae patterns (12-18). Olive or black streamers (6-10) were effective in deep pools, along streambanks, and around structure.
West Branch Susquehanna River — Muskies and bass were biting below the Williamsport dam as conditions allowed. White and olive streamers and rusty brown crayfish patterns were productive for bass, while 8- to 12-inch suckers and white and yellow streamers were effective for muskies. Walleyes also were reported.
Spring Creek (Centre County) — Trout were hitting nymphs, such as bead-head Pheasant Tail (14-18) and Caddis Larvae (18-22) through mid-December. Small streamers (6-10) were effective on the lower reaches.
Foster Joseph Sayers Lake (Centre County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were catching yellow perch on crawlers on the bottom near deep pools until mid-December. Crappies also were reported on live minnows.
Codorus Creek (York County) — Up until mid-December, as conditions allowed, anglers were catching trout in the Trophy Trout section.
Susquehanna River (York, Cumberland counties) — As conditions allowed, walleye fishing was productive on jigs with minnows or bright-colored twister tails. Channel and flathead catfish were hitting crawlers and chicken livers. The York Haven hydro-dam and Harrisburg Dock Street Dam were productive spots.
Lake Marburg (York County) — As of Dec. 18, this lake on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border had skim ice.
Pohopoco, Aquashicola, Buckwa creeks (Carbon County) — As conditions allowed, anglers were releasing trout amid light fishing pressure until mid-December.
Lehigh River — Trout were hitting around Parryville and the East Penn Township boat launch as conditions allowed.
Beltzville Lake (Carbon County) — Low water forced closure of the boat launch ramps in early December, but anglers fishing from kayaks and from shore reported nice catches of bass, catfish, and striped bass, with live bait, stickbaits, and chicken livers.
Lake Wallenpaupack (Pike County) — Nice catches of chain pickerel were reported from shore, with live bait and bright-colored jigs. Boaters were doing well on bass in early December.
Susquehanna River — Nice releases of smallmouth bass were reported out of the Union and Wapwallopen pools prior to the midmonth downturn in temperatures, with soft plastics and hard-lipped crankbaits productive.
Lily Lake (Luzerne County) — Panfish and largemouth bass were hitting live baits as conditions allowed in early December.
Nescopeck Creek (Luzerne County) — The Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section was a hot spot in early December, with Caddis- and Scud-pattern nymphs the tickets.
Susquehanna River (Wyoming County) — Anglers had limited success on walleyes in early December.
Levittown Lake (Bucks County) — Bluegills and crappies were hitting waxworms through mid-December.
Marsh Creek Lake (Chester County) — Bass, perch and chain pickerel are biting live minnows until mid-December.
Delaware River, Lehigh River (Northampton County) — Walleyes up to 21 inches were reported below the confluence of these two rivers up until mid-December. One angler found 4-inch silver swimbaits effective.
Saucon Creek (Northampton County) — Brown trout were reported on Wooly Buggers through mid-December, as conditions allowed. A small tan-colored Trico fly pattern was working for some anglers.
Delaware River, Schuylkill River (Philadelphia, Montgomery counties) — Catfish were hitting chicken livers, french fries and other go-to baits, as conditions allowed. Panfish, carp, and crappies were taking artificials, with carp also biting homemade dough baits. The deeper pools of the non-tidal Schuylkill were producing bass.
FDR Park Lake, Concourse Lake (Philadelphia County) — Bass were hitting as conditions allowed.
Report compiled by Deborah Weisberg