Pennsylvania is home to rivers, lakes, and mountains, making it an exciting location for a fishing trip if you’re planning a destination holiday with lots of fishing action. However, the PA fishing seasons can vary greatly depending on when you go, so you must carefully consider the season before planning your fishing trip.

During the depths of winter, you can take advantage of ice fishing in Pennsylvania, but you’ll need to be prepared! If you’ve been searching for information on the Pennsylvania fishing season or the PA Walleye and Bass fishing seasons, keep reading! 

In the following Pennsylvania fishing seasons guide, we’ll cover:

Be sure to check out this article, The Ultimate Guide: Discovering the Best State for Bass Fishing Bliss, to learn about the best states to catch monster Bass!

Even with expert advice or a few secret local tips, finding the best spots to fish and knowing when to go fishing in Pennsylvania can be a real challenge. However, thanks to the premium Fishing Forecasting App, Fishbox App, you’ll be able to find the best spots to fish in Pennsylvania and know when it’s worth going and when you’re better off staying at home!

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Expert Opinion on Pennsylvania Fishing Seasons

Pierce Latta

16 years fishing experience

“While most anglers vastly underestimate the fishery here, Pennsylvania serves as one of the best states in the Northeast for fishing. Loaded with all different kinds of bodies of water from tiny creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and even one of the Great Lakes, Pennsylvania boasts an amazing and very diverse fishery for all anglers whether local or not. While it may have a colder climate than a lot of other places across the country, the state has some remarkable fishing, especially for cold-water species like various kinds of Trout, Musky, Walleye and more. Due to Pennsylvania’s biodiversity and colder climate, anglers have a great deal of latitude in their choice of how they want to pursue their target species. The article mentions some of these tactics like trolling, ice fishing, fly fishing (a personal favorite of mine) and more. This is a huge benefit of the state because anglers don’t get bored quite as easily. There are always new approaches in targeting a fish which keeps many on their toes and coming back for more action. As I was reading up on Pennsylvania’s fishery and the species they have to offer both in this article and from other external sources, I noticed a common theme. That theme is this: there is always something to fish for in Pennsylvania at any given point in the year. Not only can you just fish for these species, but you have the potential for a great day of highly successful fishing at any given point in the year. Take for example fishing in a usually slower month like January. Here in North Carolina, the bite for just about everything is dead and if there is a bite for something it is pretty trash. However, January in Pennsylvania means good fishing for a variety of Trout species like Rainbows, Brooks and Browns. Additionally, January in Pennsylvania also means a good Perch, Smallmouth and Pike fishery. The best part is, statistically speaking, January is one of if not the worst, months to fish in Pennsylvania. That means the other months are generally only better even though January still offers a very good fishery for locals and visitors. While the fishing is good just about year-round in Pennsylvania, there are still some rules and regulations that need to be followed to ensure the safety of both you and fish stocks for future generations. Now I know the article briefly talks about these regulations and some of y’all reading this will roll your eyes, but these regulations are not simply suggestions. They are rules. I know I for one want my kids to enjoy the same healthy, teeming waters that I did when I was a kid. As a result, I follow the rules and regulations because they are set by someone who has a significantly better grip on the fishery than I ever will. This being said, respect the water and don’t give game wardens or marine police a hard time. They are just doing their job and carrying out what has been deemed necessary for the survival of the health of water. So going forward, enjoy the water, but also respect the water as well. Tight lines!”

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Understanding PA Fishing Seasons

Regardless of where you go fishing, including in PA, different seasons present different fishing opportunities. There are going to be peak fishing seasons for certain species, so understanding your target species and when they’re at their most active is essential to ensure a successful fishing trip.

If you’re looking for the peak fishing season in Pennsylvania, it has to be summer. While you can catch fish all-year-round in PA, summer fishing in the state of Pennsylvania will give you the greatest amount of options.

Below, we’ll do a brief highlight of each month and the fishing opportunities it presents in PA:

  • January – Depending on where in PA you’re fishing, some waters may still be frozen, and it’s a great time to try ice fishing for Trout, Bass, or Panfish.
  • February – Ice fishing is still present for species such as Walleye, Pike, and Perch in the ice fishing hot spots.
  • March – While many lakes are closed for catch and keep in March, you can still hone your trout fishing skills by taking advantage of catch and release.
  • April – With the Trout season open, it’s time to hit the water and catch some large Lake, Brook, Rainbow, or Brown Trout in April. 
  • May – Fishing charters start to really fire up in May, with target species such as Bass and Walleye, and even Trout.
  • June – The Musky season is in full swing, and it’s a great time to attempt and land a trophy size fish across PA.
  • July – The Trout are starting to drop off the bite, but you’ll still find plenty of action for Pike, Walleye, Bass, and Muskies. 
  • August – The Muskies, Bass, and Walleye are still firing on all cylinders during August, and you’ll most likely bag out in just a few hours on the water.
  • September – The water temperature is starting to drop, and it’s time to start chasing big Trout in deep lake waters and fast-flowing rivers.
  • October – Steelhead fishing in Lake Erie is now in full swing, so if you’re chasing Steelhead, October is the month to plan your Pennsylvania fishing trip.
  • November – While increased rainfall will make fishing difficult, larger lakes such as Lake Erie may still offer Steelhead and Trout if you persevere.
  • December – It’s time to check which waters have been stocked with new fish and start being selective about where you fish. While it’s getting cooler, there’s still plenty of action to be had fishing across the waters of PA.

When Does the Fishing Season Start in PA?

Obviously, there are a variety of factors that will influence when the fishing season in PA starts and ends, such as changing regulations, spawning, weather conditions, water temperature, and fish behavior.

Your target species, such as Walleye, Catfish, Muskies, Bass, Trout, and Pike, will ultimately be the deciding factor on when and where you go fishing in Pennsylvania. However, planning a fishing trip to PA in the summer will give you the most options when it comes to where you fish, what species you target, and the greatest opportunity to catch fish.

During summer in Pennsylvania, the weather and water are at their warmest, and the days are at their longest. This gives you more time on the water during peak fishing times.

The biggest bodies of water in Pennsylvania, including Lake Erie, Susquehanna River, Allegheny River, Youghiogheny River, and Delaware River, are all at their peak during the warm summer months. 

While fish species such as Trout can be caught in Pennsylvania all year round, their peak season is during the spring and fall runs as they move between spawning grounds. If you want to try and land yourself a trophy-size Musky, then fall would be better than summer in PA.

We’ll cover the species and month breakdown in more detail below.

It’s important to remember that fish can be caught at different times and during different seasons. Experimenting with different techniques, baits, tackle, and times is critical to improving your chances of landing a fish. However, if you want to enhance your chances of having a successful fishing trip in Pennsylvania, then the Fishbox App will be perfect!

The app for fishing will point you to local fishing spots, secret locations, and other hidden fishing spots where anglers have been successful. It will use 8 different factors and 41 sub-factors to determine the best time to hit the water.

Take the Fishbox App Quiz today to create your personalized fishing map!

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Detailed PA Fishing Seasons Calendar

Below, we have prepared a detailed PA fishing season calendar, highlighting the best seasons to go fishing in PA, depending on your target species. 

We’ve also highlighted the optimal times to go fishing if you’re targeting a specific species, such as Walleye, Trout, or Bass.

SpeciesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Rainbow Trout/SteelheadGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGreat
Brown TroutGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGood
Brook TroutGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGood
Lake TroutPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGoodPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatPoor
WalleyePoorPoorGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodPoor
Smallmouth BassGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGoodPoorPoorGoodGoodGoodGood
Striped BassPoorPoorGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGood
Yellow PerchGoodGoodGoodGoodGoodPoorPoorGreatGreatGreatGoodGood
MuskellungePoorPoorGoodGoodGoodGreatGreatGreatGoodGreatGoodGood
Northern PikeGoodGoodGreatGreatGoodGoodPoorPoorGreatGoodGreatGood

It’s important to note that these months and times are a guide only. However, you’ll have the best chance of success if you’re hitting the water in Pennsylvania during the peak fishing months.

PA Fishing Regulations and Guidelines

Before you plan your fishing trip to PA, below are some key fishing dates to consider, thanks to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission:

  • Trout and Salmon – Regular Season – From 8 am on the 1st Saturday in April through to Midnight on Labor Day. 
  • Trout and Salmon – Extended Season All stocked waters, plus lakes and ponds, from January 1st to February 18th, and from 12:01 am the day after Labor Day through to December 31st.
  • Muskellunge, Pike, and Pickerel – Open all year round.
  • Walleye, SaugerFrom January 1st to March 14th, and the first Saturday in May through to December 31st
  • Bass, including Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Open all year round. However, there is a NO HARVEST period from 12:01 am on the second Saturday in April through to the second Saturday in June, where all Bass must be returned, and anglers are also prohibited from casting in Bass spawning beds.
  • Fish-For-Free Days – Sunday, May 26th, and Thursday, July 4th, are free fishing days for both residents and non-residents.

Read also: Discover the Best Lures for Bass Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide

You can find a complete and detailed breakdown of all Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations here. There are also separate fishing rules and regulations if you’re planning on fishing in State Parks and Forests in Pennsylvania.

The state of Pennsylvania has a strong focus on not only providing fantastic fishing opportunities to resident and non-resident anglers for all fish species, including Trout but also ensuring that future generations of anglers will be able to enjoy the natural resources of the state for years to come.

The following are guidelines anglers in PA can adopt in order to ensure they’re fishing responsibly and following best fishing practices:

  • Safety First – Remember to be safe around water and be aware of other anglers fishing around you.
  • Safeguarding Waterways – Take only the fish you need, follow all fishing regulations, and if you have reached your bag limit, release fish in the best possible condition to ensure their survival.
  • Respect the Community and Your Catch – Be considerate of other anglers, share the water, and respect your catch.
  • Preserve Wildlife and Habitat – Look after the area you’re fishing in. Remember not to damage the local flora or fauna, and remove any rubbish, line, or waste from the area after you’re done.

Below are 5 of the hottest and most popular fishing spots in Pennsylvania and the fish species that you can expect to catch while you’re on the water. 

  1. Presque Isle Bay, Erie – Presque Isle Bay is the oldest harbor on the Great Lakes, and it’s Pennsylvania’s only seashore. If you’re looking for Panfish, Walleye, Bass, Muskies, Pike, Crappies, Steelhead, and many other fish species, this is the place to do it.
  2. Neshannock Creek, Lawrence County – Neshannock means ‘a place of two streams,’ and this beautiful location receives both fall and spring trout stockings. It’s an excellent place for targeting Trout on the fly.
  3. Slippery Rock Creek, Portersville – This catch-and-release trout fishing location is the only one open all year round, so if you love fly fishing for Trout, you can find some action here 365 days a year.
  4. Cedar Run, Cedar Run – Packed with deep pools and lots of big Trout, this beautiful stretch of water is sure to produce some exciting fishing action. 
  5. The Susquehanna River, Wilkes-Barre – Arguably one of the best fishing hot spots in Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River is well-known for Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, and Catfish fishing.

Tips for a Successful Fishing Season in PA

Below, we’ll cover some general tips for having a successful fishing season in PA. If you live in PA, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to fish throughout the year. However, if you’re planning a fishing vacation to PA, you need to use the season calendar above to choose the best time based on your target species.

  1. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission typically keeps a list on its website of the different fish available at popular fishing locations. However, the primary target species in PA are Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Lake Trout, Walleye, Crappie, Catfish, Musky, Bluegill, Northern Pike, and Perch. 
  2. A good rod and reel setup for most species in Pennsylvania is a 6’6 light spinning rod and reel or a 6’6 medium spinning rod and reel. If you’re chasing Trout, Bass, Bluegill, or Panfish, go with the light, and if you’re targeting Catfish, Walleye, or Pike, the medium will be better.
  3. Depending on your target species, bait, jigs, and lures will perform well. Nightcrawlers make an excellent universal bait for most species. 
  4. If you’re only chasing Trout, then check out this list from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission about when and where they are stocking Trout across PA.

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Pennsylvania Fishing Seasons: Your Comprehensive Guide – Conclusion

There’s no denying that Pennsylvania offers some excellent fishing opportunities for a variety of both delicious and sporty fish. If you’re planning a destination fishing trip to PA, please be sure to check the calendar above for your target species ideal fishing months.

Before you hit the water, be sure to check with the local fishing regulations in order to ensure that you have the correct license and that your target fish species is in season. While some waters offer year-round fishing, others have closed seasons to allow fish the best opportunity during spawning.

Read also: California Fishing Seasons: Your Complete Guide

If you’re planning just one fishing trip this year, Pennsylvania is a great state to visit, and packed full of exciting fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages.

Taking advantage of the Fishbox App will allow you to track weather conditions accurately, and it works by combining predictive fish behavior with weather, lunar, and tidal conditions to deliver optimal fishing opportunities in PA.

The fishing app was developed in collaboration with accurate weather data and expert fish behavioral analysis. These advanced forecasts will significantly increase your catch rate while reducing your time on the water. Take your fishing to the next level thanks to the expert advice from the Fishbox App team.

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