The state of Pennsylvania offers great opportunities for fishing. Pennsylvania has thousands of lakes and ponds, 85,000 miles of rivers, and streams. Additionally there are 101 state parks and 20 state forest that are open for fishing.
Laws & Regulations
Educate yourself on Pennsylvania’s fishing laws and regulations to ensure you stay legal and avoid costly fines.
Where to Fish in Pennsylvania
Best Fishing Lakes in Pennsylvania
- Lake Erie – The state records for Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, and Palomino Trout were all caught on Lake Erie.
- Hammond Lake – The state record crappie was caught on Hammond Lake in 2000. Anglers can also enjoy catching largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, walleye, perch, catfish, bullheads, carp, and bluegills.
- Lake Wallenpaupack – Lake Wallenpaupack is a 5,700-acre lake that is a popular spot for catching largemouth, smallmouth, striped bass, walleye, and brown trout.
- Beltzville Lake – The state record bullhead catfish was caught on Beltzville. It’s a 950-acre reservoir that offers a variety of species.
Best River Fishing in Pennsylvania
- Allegheny River – The Allegheny River has produced the state records for both sucker and walleye.
- Delaware River – The state records for American Shad, Striped Bass, and White Perch were caught on the Delaware River.
- Walnut Creek – The state records for Brown Trout and Steelhead were caught on Walnut Creek.
Fish Species in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a wide variety fish species for anglers to enjoy. Below you will find the common game fish that anglers typically see when fishing in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has 4 types of bass including: largemouth, smallmouth, striped, and white bass.
Largemouth bass are the most targeted species for freshwater anglers. They can be found in every state other than Alaska. They are the largest species of bass.
Learn more about largemouth bass
Smallmouth bass are the most aggressive bass which makes fishing for them a ton fun. They have a ton of fight which makes up for their smaller sizes. Even though they are smaller than largemouth they still can get pretty big.
Learn more about smallmouth bass
Striped bass started out as saltwater fish but were added to freshwater where they survived and adapted. They are a schooling fish, so if you catch one it is very likely there are more around.
- Silver-white to pale green color
- Dark back, with white sides and belly
- narrow dark stripes through the length of their sides
- White bass look like shorter versions of striped bass.
Learn more about white bass
Pennsylvania has 2 types of catfish including: channel and flathead catfish.
Channel catfish have a slender scaleless body with a forked tail. They have an olive green to light grey color body with small black spots along their body.
Channel catfish can grow up to 52 inches long and 60lbs. The average size you will see is 1-3ft long and 1-15lbs.
Learn more about channel catfish
Flathead catfish have a flathead and a smooth scaleless body. They have a pale yellow to light brown colored body with a cream belly.
Flathead catfish can grow up to 3-ft long and weight 123lb. The average size you will see is 10-15lbs.
Learn more about flathead catfish
Pennsylvania has both black and white crappie.
Black crappie have white bodies with a dark green and black back. Throughout their bodies they have black and brown spots.
World Record: 5 lb 7 oz – 19.25 inches long
White crappie have a white to silver body with a dark green back. They have blotches that make vertical bars across their sides.
World Record: 5 lb 3 oz – 21 inches long
Pennsylvania has 4 types of panfish including: bluegill, rock bass, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish.
- Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth
- Sides are dark bluish-green in color with vertical bars throughout their body
- They have a large dark spot at the rear of the soft dorsal fin
- Their belly is deep orange to rust color
- Adults can grow to 16 in. but usually reach 6-11 in.
Learn more about bluegill
- Dark green or brown color with brassy yellow flecks
- 4-5 wide dark saddles over the back and down the sides
- Often called “redeye” or “goggleye” due to its large, deep red eyes
- Has 5 or 6 spines in their anal fin
- Adults can grow to 17 inches but fish exceeding 12 inches are rare
Learn more about rock bass
- Molted blue, orange, yellow, and olive green coloring
- Wavy blue lines on cheeks
- Orange belly
- Black earflaps with red or orange boarder
- 10 spines on the front of dorsal fin with a rounded back
Learn more about pumpkinseed
Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
- Small sunfish with large mouth
- Females have a pale red and yellow body with dark blotches along their lateral lines
- Males have an olive to bronze colored body with a yellow belly and blue streaks on their cheek , back, and upper side.
Learn more about redbreast sunfish
Pennsylvania only has common carp.
- Babels in each corner of their mouth
- Olive-brown to reddish-brown with a yellow belly
- Large and thick scales
Learn more about common carp
Pennsylvania has 4 types of perch including: Walleye, Sauger, Yellow Perch, and White Perch.
Walleye (Sander canadensis)
- Olive back that gradients down to gold side
- 5 dark bars along sides
- White tip on tail
Learn more about walleye
Sauger (Sander canadensis)
- Bronze to olive color
- Dark blotches on side with white belly
- No white on tail
Learn more about sauger
- Yellow to gold coloring
- White belly
- Green to yellow eyes
- 6-8 dark bands along their sides
- Dorsal fin with 12-14 spines and a second dorsal fin with 12-13 soft rays plus 2-3 spines
- Silver to greenish body
- White Belly
- Faint lines down their sides
- Lower jaw protrudes beyond upper
- 3 spines on anal fin
- 7 – 10 inches long
Pennsylvania has 3 pike including: Northern Pike, Muskellunge, Chain Pickerel.
- Long torpedo shaped body
- Grey to green body with light-colored spots
- Yellowish-white belly
- Scales cover their entire cheek and the upper half of their gill covers
- Greenish to golden brown coloring on their backs and upper sides
- Long thin body with a flat head and mouth filled with sharp teeth
- 6 to 9 pores on the lower jaw
Learn more about muskie
- Dark green to yellowish green coloring
- Dark chain-like markings over body
- Large dorsal and anal fins positioned close to the tail
- Common to have dark bar under eye that extends straight down
- Hard bony scaled flap covering gills
Pennsylvania has 5 trout including: Rainbow, Brook, Brown, Lake Troutand, and Steelhead.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
- Distinct red pink stripe down their side
- Black spots throughout body
- Square, broad tail
Learn more about rainbow trout
Brook Trout (Salmo trutta)
- Worm like markings along back & head
- White edges along fins
- Found in eastern North America, Europe, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia
Learn more about brook trout
Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
- Silver & golden brown
- Orange to red spots with silver rings around them
- Found throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Western Asia
Learn more about brown trout
- Dark green to brown or greyish color
- Darker on top half of body
- White to yellow spots throughout body
- Steelhead are rainbow trout that migrate to the ocean
- Larger and less colorful than rainbow trout
- Silver and streamlined body with rounded head
- Black dots and red to pink stripe down their sides
Pennsylvania Fishing Records
Find Pennsylvania’s fishing records for over 30 species and how to qualify & submit your catch for the record fish program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common fish in Pennsylvania?
The most common fish in Pennsylvania are bass, catfish, crappie, and various panfish.
Are there wild trout in Pennsylvania?
Brook Trout are native to Pennsylvania. Stocked trout including Brown, Rainbow, and Lake Trout have also been introduced throughout the state.
Is there snakehead in Pennsylvania?
Snakeheads have been found in Pennsylvania. They are illegal to possess, sell, or release within the state. If you catch a snakehead you should call the Fish and Boat Commission and not release it.
What is the biggest fish caught in Pennsylvania?
The largest fish ever caught in Pennsylvania was a flathead catfish weighing 56 lbs 3 oz on the Schuylkill River in 2020.