Posts Tagged Northern Pike

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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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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Stormy Shenago Lake

Some friends, my dad and I spent the weekend camping and fishing at Shenago Lake. The campground was not crowded at all. Which was due to the forecast of rough weather that was going to hit that area. With the recent rains the water had risen, but not an excessive amount. My estimate was that the water was nearly 1 foot high when we arrived, and rose another foot while we where there. The water clearity varied greatly. On the main lake there was 4 feet of clearity, but in the feeder creeks you were lucky to see 6″ in the muddy water.

Friday evening we started fishing around 8:00 pm and fished until 9:30. We wanted to see if the striper were active, and if we could get a topwater bite. The night was pretty successful with the 3 of us catching over 10 bass. Most of which were on top water. None of the fish were big, but topwater is fun no matter what the size of the fish is. Tony, one of my best friends, even managed to hook up with a nice walleye on a spinnerbait.

Saturday Dad and I headed out on the water and fished from 7-12 in the morning. It was probably the single best morning I have ever had at Shenago. We managed to boat 26 bass and a catfish. We caught fish on buzzbaits, spooks, multiple crankbaits, tubes, beavers, and brush hogs. Colors were wide ranged, but the ones that seemed to work best were transparent/natural colors. The depth of water we caught fish varied greatly. We caught them flipping the shallows, topwater shallow, and deep and shallow cranking. It seemed like the fish were all over the board, but when you found 1 you found multiple fish. We headed in for lunch and ended up sitting out a pretty severe storm until 3. At that point we wanted to get on the water. The three of us started fishing again. I tied a crankbait on and never put it down for the next 2 hours. I caught 2 pike, catfish, multiple bass, and a couple crappie. Then the next severe storm came through so we called it a day.

We woke up Sunday to bad weather and high winds. That being said we thought it best not to head out on the water. For the amount of time we were able to fish we were pretty successful, which makes me anxious to get back out there.

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Afternoon at Lake Arthur

Lipless crankbait deep in the mouth of a largemouth bass.

After fishing for the first time all year on Saturday I couldn’t wait to get back on the water. Well I didn’t have to wait too long. Sunday afternoon my friend Mike and I went out to Lake Arthur from 12:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon. Going into the day I had it in my mind set that I was going to fish a couple coves toward the 528 end of the lake. Being addicted to bass fishing is great, but I knew the muskie and northern pike get active in Shannon’s Cove in the early spring and can be a blast to catch. Since we only had 4 hours to fish we end up spending most of our time there. I managed to get a couple short bass on Lipless Crankbaits and another on a suspending jerkbait. If it wasn’t for the KBBC tournament coming up I would share in greater deal how and what exact lures I was catching them on. I am sure everyone understands the value of that information. The water temperature and water color with-in that cove alone was very different. If you were over 4 feet deep the water was pretty clear. You could see 3 to 4 feet of depth. If you got into the 2 foot of water or less you lost all but 6 inches of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 58 degrees depending on the side of the cove, depth of the water and cover you were by. I have never seen that big of a difference in one cove before. Then again I am not sure I have ever fished in the middle of March in 70 degree weather in Western Pennsylvania.

I have always tried to throw lipless crankbaits in the spring and failed for the most part. I always thought I was using the wrong one, had the wrong color, or just didn’t know how to retrieve them. The truth is that it is a little of all of those categories. Over the next couple of weeks I plan on doing a lot of experimentation with them because of the moderate success that I had this weekend. If anyone has any input or advice they would like to share lets use the message board. See my post on the message board for what I learned this weekend.

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End of the Slump?

Well it turns out that there are fish in Lake Arthur even though I have been struggle to get hits let alone catching fish.  Last night in the 7th wednesday night tournament of the year my dad and I managed 3 keepers that weighed 5.85 lbs.  We finished 6th place and were more than pleased.  We boated 15-20 bass and I managed to catch a northern pike that was around 26″ and a striper that was probably near 12lbs. 

The unusual water temperatures have been moving fish were they normally wouldn’t be located.  The surface temperature last night after all of the rain was 73 degree.  That is way lower than the normal temperature of 83-85 degrees for this time of year.  Normally, a deeper off shore pattern is best this time of year, but because of the water temperature and all of the rain we have been having the fish are scattered at a variety of depths. 

Last night we went back to basics a bit.  We ran to our first spot and fish for almost 2 hours before firing our big motor.  Covering a bunch of water we managed to get fish at multiple depths on a variety of lures.  I wish I could pass on a solid pattern, but the lake just hasn’t given me one to this point.

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Cheap Buzzbait No Problem

“Modifying a $1.00 Wal Mart Buzzbait” This video is awesome for guys that are having trouble finding the cash to buy the $5 buzzbaits.  It proves that with simple modifications that the $1 buzzbait that you get from walmart can be just as effective.  Buzzbaits can be very successful when fishing for bass, northern pike, and muskie.  It is one of the most exciting ways to fish because of the explosive strikes.

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