Winter months can still offer good fishing...

Winter months can still offer good fishing...

So, in the hope that this winter season provides some spells of moderate weather, I offer up some angling options for the next three months.



WALLEYES — LOWER ALLEGHENY RIVER: In all but the most severe winters there’s open-water walleye fishing within the 72 miles of the lower Allegheny River. This section features eight lock and dam systems. Walleyes begin collecting in the stretches a half-mile or so below these dams in late fall.

While some areas of the river will likely have ice cover, hardy anglers that locate access areas close to the dam tailrace areas can often access these fish. A good example is the area below Lock and Dam 7 in Kittanning, where a boat ramp within the town’s riverside park is found nearby.

The action isn’t limited to boat fishing. Shore anglers also score, and sometimes have access to areas below the dams that are restricted to boats.

Other Options

Kinzua Dam Northern Pike: If there’s safe ice, a trip to this massive Allegheny River reservoir might turn up some big northerns.

Monongahela River Sauger: If January is relatively mild, tailraces below Mon River locks and dams should be kicking out sauger.

Tip: Most boat launches are not plowed this time of year. Carry along a snow shovel and bucket of rock salt to keep a clear path for your rig.



TROUT — SPRING CREEK: Centre County’s Spring Creek is one of the state’s many storied high-quality trout streams. As a spring-fed limestone stream Spring Creek provides a more stable environment than a freestone stream, in terms of both flow and water temperature. This means that even in the dead of winter Spring Creek will likely be ice free, a great place to spend an afternoon when those unseasonably mild days push the mercury above the freezing mark.

Most of Spring Creek — 16.5 miles —is managed as All-Tackle, Catch and Release, meaning you can use fly or spinning gear; both natural and artificials are permitted. Save for some hatchery escapees, the fish are all wild, mostly browns.

Central Pennsylvania is a trout fishing hotbed, so you’ll likely see other anglers, particularly along the easy-to-access spots. The ‘canyon’ section, four-miles of Spring Creek that runs between Benner Springs and Bellefonte, provides a place for secluded fishing for anglers willing to walk. You can park at the Fish and Boat Commission’s property at the Bellefonte or Benner Springs hatcheries and walk in from there.

Other Options

Hammond Lake Crappies: There should be safe ice on this Northcentral PA lake, which holds some fine crappies.

Tip: Spring Creek’s wild browns often prefer tiny subsurface flies in the winter, such as size 20 Copper Johns.



CRAPPIES — PYMATUNING: Pymatuning continues to be one of the top crappie lakes in the state, though special regulations now apply to this species, with a minimum length limit of nine inches, and a daily creel limit of 20 in place. This is in response to angler concerns over diminishing numbers of quality-sized crappies.

Expect to find the first crappie action in the north end of this massive, 16,000-acre lake. This portion warms first. Crappies move into shallow, dark-bottomed bays, often hovering near remaining lily pad stalks. Key areas include Stewart’s Bay, and the many extensive bays near the Wilson and Padanarum access areas. 

Pymatuning is a border lake, shared with Ohio. Licensed Pennsylvania anglers can legally fish Ohio waters, but need an Ohio license to fish from any Ohio shoreline.

Other Options

Tulpehocken Creek Trout: The Delayed Harvest, Artificial Lures Only section below Blue Marsh Dam offers great wintertime trout action.

Neshannock Creek Trout: The same can be said for this Lawrence County stream, which is also on the state’s Select Trout Waters program, where extra quality-sized trout are stocked.  

Tip: Use a faster presentation like a Road Runner to locate these crappies. Then slow down and target the productive water with a fathead minnow under a float.

Source: By JEFF KNAPP,

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