Posts Tagged camping

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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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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