Archive for category Fishery of the Month

Muddy Creek

This month our featured fishery could be looked at as part of Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. However we believe that Muddy Creek, the tail waters of the Lake Arthur Dam, deserve to be classified as its own fishery. The tail waters stretch from the Lake Arthur Dam until it runs into Slippery Rock Creek. It can be difficult to fish, but if you can deal with hiking and working to get through brush you can find some really nice areas to fish.

Some of the species that you will find in Muddy Creek include: walleye, crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike, and muskellunge. Near the tail waters you will find that there are gizzard shad. These are often the target of the trophy muskellunge. Just because this in not a large fishery don’t assume that the fish are not going to be big. You may not catch a bunch of fish, but you will catch quality fish. Walleye over 20 inches are common and 40 inch muskellunge are common as well.

Time of year should determine how you fish and the size of lures that you use. In the winter the best rig to use is a single hook a small split shot and a medium fathead minnow. This will catch every species swimming in the creek, especially the muskellunge and northern pike. Once the water begins to warm up in the spring larger lures. Spinnerbaits, stick baits, buzzbaits and frogs are all good options. For bass brings you jigs and trailers and you will not be disappointed.

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Raccoon Creek State Park

If you are looking for a small quiet peaceful family destination with quality fishing Raccoon Creek State Park may be the place for you. There is no shortage of outdoor opportunities for every season of the year. Raccoon Creek Lake is 101 acres and is open to electric power motors, row boats, canoes, and kayaks only. If you have a gas powered motor on the boat the motor must be trimmed to a point where the prop is out of the water at all times. There is a boat rental that is equipped with canoes, kayaks, and rowboats. There are also, 48 slips for boat mooring

The 101 acre lake is filled with bluegill, sunfish, bullhead catfish, yellow perch, walleye, crappie, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and muskellunge. Brook Trout and Rainbow trout are stocked in the lake and feeder streams annually. See the PA Fish & Boat Commission website for stocking information. There is also a 12 acre upper lake that is catch and release all year long.

Zoom Horny Toad

Zoom Horny Toad

When fishing the lake you must realize that the water is on the clear side. The fish can be spooky because the water is clear. Focus on the weeds which grow throughout the lake. Some of the best lures include frogs and flukes. Live bait is always a good option for the trout and panfish species. Don’t let the size of this lake fool you. There are quite a number of big fish swimming around this lake. As usual big fish eat big baits and sense trout are stocked in the lake, big trout swimbaits are a great option for the trophy bass or muskellunge.

There are many other activities you can participate in. First, there is a 500 foot ADA accessible sand beach for swimming. If you like mountain biking there are 17 miles for trails designated to this sport. Perhaps you would enjoy hiking the 44 miles worth of trails. There are also 16 miles of equestrian horseback riding trails. Pioneer and Sioux backpacking areas have 5 Adirondack shelters and tent areas. These areas are only open to backpackers and can be reserved through the park office or online. Some winter activities include ice fishing, ice skating, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.

If your family enjoys to camp there are 172 modern campsites that are open from the second Friday of April until mid October. These sites are for tents and campers. They also include a playground, 5 central washhouses with hot showers, and a dump station. There is also a Sioux rustic campground. If you prefer there are 10 modern cabins. These include a living area, dining/kitchen, bathroom with shower, and 2 or 3 bedrooms. For all of the comforts of home reserve the lakeside lodge. Group cabins are also available. The 3 cabins hold 30, 80, and 130 people and are intended for church and school groups. Group tent camping is also available. To make a group camping reservation click here. For more information about reservations and the state park visit PA DCNR Webiste.

 

 

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Lake Wilhelm

Located in M.K. Goodard State Park, Lake Wilhelm offers a great opportunity for the serious angler or family outing. Lake Wilhelm is 1680 surface acres of water. The majority of the lake (1440 acres) has a horsepower limit of 20. The remaining 240 acres that is managed by the PA Game Commission is electric power or non-power water craft only. This area is marked on the water, but if you cross until I-79 bridge heading northwest you will come to the electric only end of the lake in a few hundred yards. There are 5 main boat launches. Launch 1, 2, 3, 4 and the marina. The 241 slip marina has the nicest launch with 4 lanes and the most parking. Boat rental is available at the marina from May 1st through labor day. There is also a handicap pier at the marina.

Wilhelm Marina

Wilhelm Marina

Another nice feature of the lake is that launch 1, 2, 3, and the marina have pavilions for public use. They may also be rented and reserved. For the family there is a bicycle trail that runs 12 miles around the lake. In the winter it is acceptable to ride snowmobiles or cross country ski on the trail as well. There are also a total of 14 miles of hiking trails along the lake. Ice skating, ice boating, and ice fishing are also permited. There is a one acre hill near the dam designated for sled riding as well. M.K. Goddard State Park has 1550 acres of land that is opened to hunting during the Pennsylvania Game Commissions seasons. There truly is something for everyone here.

There are many species of fish to target. Recently, the walleye population has improved and many catches of 20″ and over have been reported. The lake also has an excellent pan fish population. Crappie, perch, bluegill, and sun fish are caught regularly. Although the size of these fish is generally small, I can promise you the numbers will keep you and especially kids entertained for hours. Some other species include multiple species of catfish, crap, and Muskellunge. Many local clubs have targeted the lake for bass tournaments. The population has shrunk in numbers and size, but the lake still offers some great largemouth bass fishing.

BuzzbaitSome of my favorite techniques for bass fishing include throwing buzzbaits, senkos, Carolina rigged lizards, and 10″ worms. Some key areas to focus on are the numerous roadbeds in the lake, offshore brush piles, but don’t over look the laydowns on the bank. Some of the best bass and pan fish fishing is located in the standing timber in the electric only section of the lake. It takes time and a calm day to be able to fish this timber, but it is well worth the time. For walleye trolling worm harness & medium range crankbaits on the roadbeds are the most successful baits. Muskellunge seem to be most active early in the morning and late in the event around the main lake points. The points at Lake Wilhelm are more settle than most lakes in the area but don’t overlook these area. Although I have never done it myself, I have seen bow fisherman have great success for carp as well.

If you looking for a place to stay near the lake you have two options. First, there is Camp Wilhelm Campground. Campsite prices range from $25 to $35 per night and there are also multiple cabin rentals. The second option is Goddard Park VactionLand Campground. This campground has daily, weekly, or seasonal rates for camp sites and cabins. Visit website for more information.

 

 

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Salmon Creek

Located in the Allegheny Nation Forest is a trout stream called Salmon Creek. The creek begins at the outflow of the Beaver Meadows Lake and weaves in and out of the hills throughout Forest County. As the stream flows towards its junction with Tionesta Creek there are several tributaries coming into Salmon Creek. The tranquility and peaceful setting makes this a great setting for hiking and trout fishing.

The tributary of Tionesta Creek is well stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission several times per year. The stockings typically begins several miles below the outflow of the Beaver Meadows Lake and continues all the way to Tionesta Creek. Typically brook and brown trout will be stocked in the stream. However, the stockings vary from year to year.

Joe FlySalmon Creek is not a large creek and doesn’t require the ability to make long casts. However, most of the creek is surrounded by heavy timber and low branches which will require short accurate casting. Spinning tackle is the most common style utilized, but skilled fly fishermen will have success as well. Most of your favorite lures or live bait will work. My favorite tactic is the threaded minnow rig. If I don’t take live bait then I opt for a Joe’s Flies inline spinner. When rigging the inline spinner I will put a small split shot about six inches above the knot.

There are several options for lodging during your trip to Salmon Creek. Kelletville Campground located on the shore of Tionesta Creek is a great option, but can be crowded during the opening weekend of trout and holiday weekends. You can also camp in the Allegheny National Forest as long as you follow the rules of the nation forest. If you are willing to make a small drive in the morning there are several options in the town of Tionesta. The Mid-Town Hotel and Eagle Rock Motel are just two options.

 

 

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Allegheny Reservoir

Located in the Allegheny National Forest is one of the largest lakes in Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Reservoir spans through Warren and McKean Counties in Pennsylvania and Cattaraugus County in New York. This reservoir is part of the Army Corps of Engineers. At normal summer pool the lake is 24 miles long and covers over 12,000 acres.

The Kinzua Dam was initially built for flood control of the Allegheny River in the 1960’s.  It is estimated that the dam has prevented over 1 billion dollars worth of damage. However, since the dam was constructed many other uses have been utilized. The hydroelectric power plant located below the dam may be the greatest of its uses. Check out the Big Bend Access Vistors Center to see more information about the power plant and how it works. There are many campgrounds, water sports, fishing opportunities, and other outdoor activities possible around the reservoir. Not to mention it has some of the most beautiful scenery in the state.

Now let’s talk fishing! The Allegheny Resevoir is a very deep body of water with steep sloping banks. The water is also very clear as long as the weather has been consistent with no rain. Remember this is a river system and the water level fluctuates daily. These conditions stated there is a little something for everyone on this body of water.

Let’s start by talking about toothy criters. This body of water is know for producing giant Musky and Northern Pike. Not to mention that you can catch large numbers of both species. Like always trolling is an option and a lot of guys use this method. Just remember that the water is clear. My experience is that you don’t have to work that hard to find the Northern Pike. If you want fast results I would head up into some of the no wake bays and go to the back of the bays. Almost every bay has a small stream coming into the bay and the northern pike will move up into those areas to feed. Try some firetiger jerkbaits, firetiger topwater lures, or jitterbugs. My experience is that brighter lures attract pike and triger more stikes. However, if the sun is high try black. It puts out a great silouette. Most of the bigger pike and musky will be on the main body of the lake near the cliff faces. The best approach to fishing these areas is using a vertical style. My favorite is to use large red/white daredevil spoons and cast them parallel to the shoreline right against it. You will find that the spoon will be sinking and just stop on the fall before the lure hits the bottom. When that happens hold on because you got exactly what you are looking for.

There is also a decent walleye population. Coventional walleye tackle will be necessary. Light line and flourocarbon is a must. Trolling is probably the most effective way to fish for walleye there. However, I have had great success throwing plugs such as Rapala Shad Raps, Hot n Tots, and jerkbaits in the morning. Remember the water is clear so you will want to you natural colored lures. Some other methods that work well include jigging minnows, trolling worm harnesses, and using blade baits on the cliff faces. My favorite end of the lake for walleye tends to be towards Red Bridge.

There are plenty of panfish in the lake as well. Perch and rock bass dominate the panfish population, but you will also find crappie and bluegill as well. Shallow rock shorelines tend to hold good numbers of rock bass. Try throwing nightcrawlers on a small jig head. You will find the perch almost everywhere that you catch a walleye. Check 10-25 feet of water for you best chance. Unfortunately, you may not find the size of perch desired for keeping. This body of water is like every other body of water that I have ever fished in that when you catch one crappie sit there and work the area because you may get a bunch of them in a short period of time.

Now let’s talk bass fishing. Smallmouth are the dominate species, but there are largemouth around the lake. There are a lot bass in the lake, but it can be difficult to locate them and it can be even more difficult to find good sized fish. To me the reason for this is because the lake is very clear and there are large numbers of preditor fish in the lake. My recommendations for catching bass are as follows. First, trust your electronics for locating flats or shoals as well as bait fish. Throughout the lake there is only so much bank that doesn’t drop straight down. Finding feeding flats will greatly improve your odds. Also, you will want to head to the back of the no wake bays. The reason for this is that most of them are feed by some sort of stream or runoff area. Because of this the bass as well as Northen Pike seem to really stack up back in these areas. One of my favorite things to throw is a firetiger size 9 original floating rapala. Other natural colors work as well, but it just seems that I get more strikes on firetiger. Some other things you will want to try are tubes, drop shot, grubs, poppers, and spooks. Crankbaits can be a good option as well.

The largemouth are a little more difficult to find. In fact I only have 1 area on the lake that I consistently have caught largemouth and usually I only get a couple of them to bite. Usually, I am able to get these fish on soft jerkbaits or spinnerbaits. Like I said, the numbers just don’t seem to be in this body of water so I would spend my time looking for walleye and smallmouth.

There is plenty of camping opportunities around the Allegheny Reservoir. Red Bridge Campground, Dew Drop Campground, and Kiasutha Campground are on the Pennsylvania side of the lake. There are several areas set up for primative camping where there is no running water and no bathhouses. Some of my best memories of family camping trips were when my parents took my sisters and I primetive camping. It was on of those times in life that there were no rules and you could just have fun.

Scattered throughout the lake is hiking trials and overlooks. You will find some of the best scenery in the state at these overlooks. All watersports are legal here. There is a beach by Wolf Run Marina. Wolf Run Marina is the only Marina on the water on the Pennsylvania side of the lake.

When thinking about a weekend get away with the family you should really consider taking a trip to the Allegheny Reservoir. Make it a mid May trip when everything is in bloom and you will the some of the best senerio you could ask for. Not to mention the best fishing.

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Presque Isle Bay – Lake Erie

One of the best fisheries in Pennsylvania is located in Erie County. Presque Isle State Park on Lake Erie is home to some of the best fishing I have ever experienced. Everyone knows how good Lake Erie can be, but no one thinks about how fishing the Presque Isle Bay. There are many species of fish and certain times of year some species are more abundant than other times. The Erie area is thriving right now so there is plenty to do inside and outside the state park. It truly has something for everyone.

Let’s start by talking about all of the species of fish that can be found in Presque Isle Bay. The most abundant species in the bay depends on the time of year in which you are there. The most consistent species you can find is largemouth bass. Fisherman can experience some of the best largemouth fishing in the state from the time the ice comes off the bay until the bay freezes over. From mid April until early July you can find a huge population of smallmouth bass that move into the bay to spawn. Panfish such as perch, crapie, bluegill, rock bass, white bass, and sunfish. During the cold water temperature time of the year you can find steelhead and trout that have migrated in from the main lake. There is a healthy population of northern pike. Some other species that can be found include: muskie, freshwater drum, carp, catfish, and alligator gar. Whatever your target species there are ample oppurtunies at Presque Isle State Park.

As many species as there are in the bay there are many more ways to catch fish depending on the species. In the spring and fall months fishing aggressive tends to be the best when fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures are my favorite lures. During the water summer months I tend to switch gears and pull out more of my heavy punching gear because of the abundance of weeds. Heavy weights and heavy line are a must to get fish out of the mat weeds. No matter what time of year that I there I expect to boat 50 bass a day. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens more often than not. Some of my favorite soft plastics include berkley chigger craws and tubes of various colors. Creature baits such as brush hogs are also very effective.

Early in the year steelhead move into the bay. You can effectively catch these fish on your typical lures for them. Spoons, blade baits, and jerkbaits are some of the common lures used. For muskie and northern pike you should start with white spinnerbaits and swimbaits. Everytime I fish this lake I catch a couple of these guys early in the morning while I am fishing aggressively for bass. Try fishing Misery Bay for these toothy guys. Try looking that the beginning of the penninsula for carp and panfish. However, panfish can be found throughout the bay. If you are looking to find an alligator gar you should look in the lagoons and horseshoe bay.

There are ample opportunities to fish from boats and from shore. There are e public boat launchs in Presque Isle State Park. There is the Vista Boat launch which is more for small water crafts and jet skies. Niagara Boat Launch and the Lagoons Boat Launch and handle small to medium sized boats. The largest boat launch is the West Pier Launch. It will handle whatever boat you choose to launch. There is a marina attached to the west pier launch with plenty of slips to accommodate. There is also a boat launch on the city side of the by on Chestnut Street.

Presque Isle State Park offers many more activities that just fishing. There is a paved bicycle trail that can be jogged, biked, or walked on that goes the entire way around the penninsula. At the beginning of the park there is a shop that you can rent bicycles. On Graveyard Point there is a boat rental where you can rent kayaks, canoes, or multiple types of boats. There are plenty of picnic shelters that can be rented or used on a first come first served basis. Scuba diving is permit is certain areas of the bay, but you must be a registered diver and check in with the park before doing so. Water skiing is also permitted as this is an unlimited horsepower body of water. Except for the no wake and lagoons (electric only) area.

My favorite time of year to be at Presque Isle State Park is May. At this time the trees are turning green and the flowers are blooming. Let’s not forget that the smallmouth bass are in the bay spawning or getting ready to spawn. The largemouth bass fishing is unbelievable as well.

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Chapman State Park

Chapman Lake

Warren County Pennsylvania is home to some of the nicest trout fisheries on this side of the state. Some of my best trout fishing memories came when I was fish in the Chapman State Park. In the state park is Chapman Lake which is located on the West Branch of Tionesta Creek. There are also several native trout streams that connect to these bodies of water in the area. The 805 acre Chapman State Park is between state game lands 29 and the Allegheny Nation Forest. This state park is very peaceful, has abundant wildlife, and is simply a joy to visit.

Let’s talk about Chapman Lake. It is a 68 acre lake that the West Branch of Tionesta flow into and out. The water tends to be stained in the majority of the lake, but near the entrance of the creek the water can be very clear depending on the recent rainfall. The structure within the lake includes the main creek channel, laydowns along the bank, and weedbeds. You can also find some cattails along the shoreline. You are allowed boats on the lake, but they are restricted to electric motor or row boats. The target species of fish in the lake are Brook & Brown Trout. Chapman Lake gets stocked with these fish every year and has enough depth to keep the previous years stock alive. Fisherman may also catch largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, yellow perch and suckers. The lake is also stocked with trout in the winter months for the ice fisherman. See the DCNR rules for the seasons and creel limits.

Brown Trout

If you are looking to catch fish other than bluegill and trout then this is not the body of water for you. You might get lucky and catch a bass or perch, but this is mainly a trout lake. If you are on a boat your best tactic is to troll with your electric motor. Roster tails, joe flyies, spoons, tread minnows, and streamer flyies seem to work best. When fishing from shore it seems like livebait or powerbait works best for trout. The lakes best colors of powerbait are pink and purple. Nightcrawlers, magots, milworms, waxworms, and minnows are popular livebait options. Fly fisherman can have great success during the month of my when the mayflyies are hatching. Minnow streamers are also good options.

Fishing the West Branch of Tionesta Creek can be difficult because the creek isn’t very large. However, it is well stocked with trout during the spring months. There are several nice holes that will hold groups of fish. Pay close attention to the laydowns and undercut banks. These seems to be the best places to get fish. I have 2 main lures that I take with me. First, I like to throw joe flyies with a small split shot about it for casting accuracy. The other one is a silver or gold niti. Both can be very effective when the fishing is good. Other times I prefer to fish with milworms on a split shot rig. Powerbait and livebait are also good options. If you are a skilled fly fisherman you will be able to fish this stream. If not I would leave the fly rod at home.

Chapman State Park has it’s own campground as well. There are 82 campsites and 3 cottages available to rent for the night or for the week. Also, they offer rustic group camping that is great for youth groups. The campground has modern bathhouse facilities that include sinks, showers, and tiolets. To reserve a campsite visit the DCNR website.

There are many other activities you can take part in while at Chapman State Park. There are 12.2 miles of hiking trails. Although most of them do not permit bicycles there are certain roads and paths that you can use them on. On Chapman Lake there is a swim at your own risk beach. During the hunting season Chapman State Park has over 400 acres of huntable land. You just have to follow the PA Game Commission season and regulations. In the winter months you will find people ice skating, snowmobiling, and taking part in the sled riding on the acre sloped hill. This is a great park for the entire family. For more information about the park please visit the DCNR website.

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Chautauqua Lake

chautauqua-smallmouth-4Southwestern New York is home to one of the best fisheries that I have ever been to. Chautauqua Lake has one of the best largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, rock bass, and crappie populations that I have ever seen. Not to mention it is known for its large musky. This lake has something to offer every skill level, age group, and style of angler. Add to that the beautiful scenry and crystal clear water and you have the perfect get away.

Let’s start with some technical data. Chautauqua Lake is is approximately 17 miles long and 2 miles wide. The route 86 bridge seperates the upper and lower basin of the lake. In the upper basin you will generally find yourself in slightly deeper water and the lower basin. The maximum depth of the lake is 78 feet. There are 41 miles of shoreline and 13,000 acres of surface area. These numbers my sound quite large, but since there is an unlimited horsepower rating you can cover the lake in a hurry. The water clearity on the lake is very clear, but if an algea bloom happens you are not going to have any visability.

tank-from-the-dock1There are many types of structure to fish at Chautauqua Lake. The most abundant feature is the massive weedbeds. Weeds cover most of the shorelines throughout the lake and extends to the center of the lake in some places. Next, there is an impressive amount of boat docks that hold multiple species of fish all year round. Throughout the lake you will find small patches of lilly pads. These areas are usually quite shallow, but can hold decent amounts of bass and are often overlooked. Being the flipper that I am I found a shoreline in the creek that has a good number of laydowns. Although most of them are shallow, they can still be productive for largemouth bass. The most sought after spots on the lake are the rock piles that are scattered throughout. These will be very productive for all species. The second most common type of structure are the thousands of boat docks throughout the lake. Other structures include brushpiles and cribs.

Beaver style baits have become very popular among bass fishermen.

Chautauqua Heights that is on the Northeast side of the lake near Dewittville. They offer camp site for the entire year to just one night. The sites include tent sites, electric sites, and sites for RV’s. Chautuaqua Heights also offers multiple levels of cabin rental, from rustic to luxury. Some of the other features include well maintained bathhouse, basketball court, mini golf course, horseshoe pits, jungle gym, swimming pool, and game room. There is also a camp store. Another campground is called Camp Chautauqua. It is located on the Northwest side of the lake near Mayville. There facilities are very similar to Chautauqua Heights. Another area you can stay are the Irwin Bay cabins which are also near Mayville.

To my knowledged there are 5 public boat launchs on Chautauqua Lake. The most used boat launch is in Long Point State Park. There is a beautiful marina and boat launch that is well maintained with plenty of room for boaters to park there vehicles and boats. Another launch is located in the town of Mayville. This is a much smaller launch but typically is not as busy. It is perfect if you are staying in the Mayville area. In the middle of the lake on the West side is Pendergaust Point. This is a very nice boat launch that is maintained by the state. There is also a boat launch in Bemus Point and one where the creek enters the lake in the South. There are multiple marinas throughout the lake that have there own private boat launchs as well.

There are plenty of things to do near Chautauqua for the entire family. The famous city of Bemus Point is a festive town that always has something going on. From festivals to classic cars shows it leaves something for everyone. You can find some great restuarants around the entire lake as well. The Erie wine trail makes its way through Chautuaqua as well. Add those to all the activities on the water and in the campground, and you have a great vacation destination.

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Crooked Creek Lake

Nice Crooked Creek Lake Largemouth Bass

Do you want to go fishing on a lake that doesn’t get a ton of fishing pressure? In Pennsylvania it isn’t easy to find a lake that doesn’t get a lot of pressure, but I have found one that is a short drive from Pittsburgh and is located just South of Kittaning. Crooked Creek Lake is an Army Corp. or Engineer Lake, and is the perfect lake to spend a day or weekend. This small 350 acre unlimited horsepower lake runs over 5 miles in length in one of the most relaxing settings an outdoorsmen can dream about.

If you enjoy fishing a lake with a lot of weeds then this is not the lake for you. Weeds are difficult to find in the lake. There is however a ton of lake downs and bushes throughout the lake. It is not unusual to find debris build up at certain points of the lake when the area experiences heavy rains or snow melt off. Depth of the lake varies greatly from end to end. When you come out of the boat launch and head toward the dam (left) you will find deeper water ranging from steep banks and 30-foot depths to shelved banks that drop to that depth at a slightly slower rate. You can often find brush piles and fish habitats throughout this end of the lake. Some lay downs will be locate at this end of the lake and will be loaded with bass and crappie. If you head up the creek from the boat launch (to the right) you will find an abundant amount of lay downs, bushes, and debris jambs. This is a much shallow end of the lake and should be navigated very carefully. The water in the creek is usually muddy because the bottom is comprised most of slit run off from the creek. The dam end of the lake is usually clear or slightly stained in part because of the rocky bottom.

There are several species of fish that are abundant in Crooked Creek Lake. Let’s start by talking about my favorite fish, the largemouth bass. I swear that this lake was built for fishermen like myself who love to flip and pitch heavy cover. Needless to say, that I usually come out of the launch and head to the right towards the creek. This is one body of water that you do not need a gas motor to get to a good spot. Usually, I don’t even fire my gas motor until it is time to go home for the day. There is plenty of cover to flip and pitch all day long by heading up the creek.

Beaver style baits have become very popular among bass fishermen.

Some of my favorite flipping lures for the lake are tubes, jigs, beaver baits, and stick worms. Some other lures you should make sure you have with you include: spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, and soft jerkbaits. I have found that sooner or later everyday you are on the water at Crooked Creek you are going to come across schooling fish feeding. You can catch a lot of nice sized bass in a hurry with the more aggressive lures once you see the baitfish busting on the surface.

While fishing for bass on Crooked Creek Lake, I have been able to catch a lot of good-sized crappie. There are plenty of areas to fish for crappie, but the larger schools of these fish tend to be in the 8-15 foot depth range. While fishing the main body of the lake I watch a couple of boats fishing slip bobber minnow rigs for crappie catch so many crappie that I changed my target species for the day. After the day was over I talked to them about their day as they took pictures of a stringer of 12” crappies. The group of guys told me that there was no reason to keep crappie under the 12” size because they are so abundant.

Some other features of this park include a swimming area, campground, picnic areas, spillway, hiking trails, and a horse park. There is a $4 per vehicle charge for use of the park. This includes the use of one or multiple features of the park in the same day. There are 6 pavilions for picnicking and can be reserved through the office. There is plenty of wildlife throughout the park and can be enjoyed while hiking the trails or just sitting in the fields. Campground information and reservations can be made by visiting the Army Corp or Engineer website. If you are looking for a great family location to relax and enjoy the outdoors, remember Crooked Creek Lake is right down the road.

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Oneida Lake – New York

When traveling with the Bassmaster Weekend Series last year I came upon a couple fisheries that are truly amazing. Today I am going to focus on Oneida Lake in New York. Even though we are a Pittsburgh based website and try to keep the lakes local to Western Pennsylvania, I felt that I had to tell people about this lake. I will be the first to tell you that I am not an expert or even pretend to know a lot about this body of water. However, this is one fishery that you don’t have to know in order to have a great day of fishing. Through the article I will touch on the most abundant species, camping, fishing techniques, and geographic features.

First, I feel that it is important to know what kind of lake you are going to be fishing before you get there. Oneida lake is twenty-two miles in length from East to West and is anywhere from one to five miles wide North to South. The surface are of the lake is 50,000 acres. This makes it the biggest lake in New York State. Oneida Lake is located just North of Syracuse and was formed by glaciers during the ice age. Because it is a natural lake the water is clear to slightly stained most of the time. However, you could hit it during the algae bloom and see why it was nicknamed the green lake.

The first thing I noticed about the lake was the pure size of the lake. I had been on some large bodies of water, but next to the great lakes it was the biggest. For its size this body of water is relatively shallow. I fished the lake for 4 days and the deepest water I located was 30 feet. What you have to watch for is the islands and shoals that are thrown throughout the lake. These shoals are not always marked on makes and could be completely submerged if the water level is high. It is my recommendation to get a map or rely heavily on your gps unit while travel on Oneida Lake. Another thing that I notice was that because the lake runs east to West the waves can build very fast and can be very dangerous. High winds don’t necessarily have to seem high at this lake. 15 mph winds will cause three to five foot waves. You add in shoals that are all around and you can have a recipe for disaster.

Located at the South Western corner of the lake is Oneida Shores State Park. They have over fifty campsites which most of which have electric and water hook-ups. The bathrooms and shower house are very well kept. There is also a sand beach in the State Park. Launching your boat is free if you are camping in the campground, but there is a small launching fee if you are just using the launch for the day.

Oneida Lake may be one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries by sheer numbers that I have ever came across. There are many local bass tournaments held at Oneida Lake, but there are a surprising amount of professional tournaments held there ever year. Circuits such as the Bassmaster Elites, Bassmaster Weekend Series, Anglers Choice, and the BFL are just a couple of the many professional bass circuits to come to Oneida Lake every year. This species of smallmouth is somewhat shorter but very heavy. I was very surprised that a sixteen inch smallmouth bass was anywhere from 2.25 pounds to 2.75lbs. What I discovered was that when you found one of these guys there was a pack of them there. Once you turn on that school it was absolutely unbelievable. Prior to my trip to Oneida Lake I had probably only broke a spinnerbait about two times in my life. During my 4 days there I broke 8 spinnerbaits. Most of which were because of how vicious the hits are and how strong the fish are.

For anyone that heads up there in search of smallmouth bass I have a few suggestions as to what depth, structure, and lures to use. Knowing that smallmouth bass are predator fish the depth can vary throughout the course of the day. Also, the time of year will play a part in deciding what depth to fish at. As a rule of thumb, shallow points, points on the islands, or tops of shoals should be fished early in the morning or late at evening. The fish in these areas are aggressive can will hit topwater baits or other moving baits. My recommendation is to throw poppers with a rear red feathered hook or to throw a double willow spinnerbait. You may need to cover water until you find them but when you do watch out. The rest of the morning and the middle of the day I would focus on the eight to twenty foot depth range. I realize that this my seem pretty vague but typically eight to nine foot of water is a weed line that extend to the surface and when you back your boat off twenty-five or thirty yards (a minimum in clear water) you will more than likely be sitting in fourteen to sixteen feet of water. Several techniques seem to really work well in this depth range. I would start by covering water with spinnerbaits. Natural shad colors seem to work best and silver blades seem to be better than gold. Other moving baits that I would try are jerkbaits (hard and soft), lipless crankbaits, and in-line spinners. Yes, I said in-line spinners. These work surprising well up there and got bites when the bite would seem to have died. Dragging tubes and beavers were also effective. Drop shoting a wacky hooked 4” green pumpkin senko is also effective. The smallmouth bass in this lake are not hard to find but when you launch at Oneida Shores, drop your trolling motor and go to the right. There are a lot of tournaments that release a lot of fish there and it is well stocked. Just stay in the 8 to 10 foot range.

There is also a decent amount of largemouth bass in Oneida Lake. The largemouth bass tend to win bass tournaments but they are harder to find. I feel that the reason that they are harder to find is that most of the shoreline is covered in mat weeds and it looks very similar. Plus, the population of largemouth isn’t as high as smallmouth. Unlike the smallmouth I would stay fishing in the mat weeds. I would start by working frogs and buzzbaits overtop of the mat. Once I found an area that I felt would hold fish I would punch the weeds with a minimum of ¾ ounce weight with your soft plastic of choice. Personally, when I flip mat weeds I am using a one-ounce weight with a beaver or tube. I find the sender profile help get it through the mat. Other options are heavy jigs. Something that I noticed was when I can across a log that was in the weeds I typically got bit there. Big Bay and the channel have been known to produce big bags of largemouth bass. If you want to go off the beaten path check out 3 Mile Bay. I had some success there.

Walleye and perch are also abundant. I was able to catch multiple walleye while dropping my senko. I think if I had targeted walleye a little more we could have had a nice bag of walleye at the end of the day. Even more so than normal you are going to need light line because the water is so clear. May is supposed to be the best month for walleye fishing at Oneida Lake.

I found myself catching an unbelievable amount of Pickerel during my time at Oneida Lake. The pickerel were not always big, but they were a lot of fun. White buzzbaits in the shallow water over the weeds really seemed to get them going. Each day I was there I would say that I caught at least ten pickerel. If you like catching these guys this is the lake for you. I know I truly have a blast a throwing topwater and spinnerbaits for them. The first day of my tournament I managed to only land 3 bass, but caught about 30 pickerel. Not something I am proud of because I feel that I am a quality bass fishermen, but that just shows you how many pickerel are in the lake.

If you are heading up I recommend throwing a few other lures. For all of the mentioned species I would try some swimbaits. It is a misconception that northern fish won’t attack these big lures. Give them a try and you might be surprised. Another lure I would try are jigging spoons. I feel that the smallies would eat a lure falling down and hoping across the bottom just was well as a lure being cranked passed them. Don’t be afraid to experiment as well. Burning a spinnerbait over twenty feet of water sounds crazy, but it works and works very well.

The next time you are looking at taking a fishing trip, I highly recommend visiting Oneida Lake. It is close to wine country and offers something for everyone. Not to mention that fishing is some of the best that I have ever experienced. If you have any questions about the lake or information that you would like to share with me or everyone else feel free to add a comment at the bottom of the article or shot me an email.

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