The 12 Best Bass Fishing Lakes and Rivers in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a paradise for bass fishing enthusiasts of all levels and offers a wealth of picturesque lakes and rivers that provide prime angling opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned angler …

Pennsylvania is a paradise for bass fishing enthusiasts of all levels and offers a wealth of picturesque lakes and rivers that provide prime angling opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice looking to experience the thrill of reeling in bass, the Keystone State has it all. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at the twelve best bass fishing lakes and rivers I have found in Pennsylvania. In most cases, I have had excellent first-hand experience fishing at these locations and will try to highlight their unique features, abundant Pennsylvania fish populations, and the techniques that have shown success. 

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers a diverse array of bass fishing opportunities that cater to all types of anglers. From expansive reservoirs and serene bass lakes to winding rivers and hidden ponds, the state’s waterways provide a variety of habitats for bass to thrive. 

Monster bass in Pennsylvania typically ranges in size from 1 to 5 pounds, with occasional catches exceeding 6 or 7 pounds. The best times of year for catching big bass fishing in the state are spring and early summer when bass are actively feeding and spawning, and in the fall when they prepare for winter. 

Successful bass fishing techniques include using plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures, with my personal favorite being jigs and topwater lures. No matter what your experience level, try to use a variety of techniques such as flipping, pitching, and working the shoreline cover to entice strikes from these elusive and hard-fighting big fish. 

In addition to bass, you can also expect to find Northern pike, yellow perch, rainbow trout, and other game species in many lakes and rivers around the state of PA. Grab your favorite fly rod and hit up some of the best bass fishing lakes around to catch your next trophy!

1. Lake Erie

Lake Erie Pennsylvania Smallmouth Bass fishing
Lake Erie’s waters are ideal for smallmouth bass, offering abundant opportunities to catch trophy-sized fish year-round.

Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes and offers some of the best big bass fishing in Pennsylvania. The clear, deep waters of the lake provide an ideal habitat for smallmouth, and this is absolutely my favorite place in Pennsylvania to haul in bass and other fish. 

You can expect to find plenty of smallmouth bass ranging from 3 to 6 pounds, with some exceeding 7 pounds and being aggressive and spunky. Most bass anglers I have talked to prefer fishing for smallmouth from boats, particularly near rocky structures, reefs, and drop-offs. 

Effective techniques include using drop-shot rigs, tube baits, jerkbaits, and crayfish imitations, with the last option being absolutely amazing during the fall months as bass are fattening up for the cold winter months. 

Spring and early summer are prime seasons for big bass fishing as they migrate closer to shore for spawning. However, smallmouth bass specifically can be caught throughout the year, with fall offering another peak fishing period. 

Notable historic catches from Erie include trophy-sized smallmouth weighing over 8 pounds and the current state record smallmouth that was just under 10 pounds. For largemouth bass, you can potentially find trophy game fish up to 12 pounds in size.

2. Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Wallenpaupack is home to abundant smallmouth and largemouth bass, making it a must-visit destination for anglers.

While it has a strange name, Lake Wallenpaupack is a 5,700-acre man-made lake nestled in the Pocono Mountains that should absolutely be on your list for the best bass fishing. The lake offers excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing. 

Smallmouth bass in the 2 to 4-pound range are extremely common, while Largemouth bass can reach up to 5 pounds quite easily. I try to target these fish near shallow weed beds, fallen trees, and submerged structures, while smallmouth bass are usually found near rocky shorelines and drop-offs. 

It’s normally easier to fish from boats, although shore fishing is also popular and can be very effective for both experienced and new fishermen. Effective techniques for large and smallmouth bass include using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, jigs, and topwater lures, but smallmouth bass respond well to crayfish imitations, jerkbaits, and tube baits. 

Spring and early summer are great seasons to hit the lake for some of the best bass fishing since the bass move into shallower water to feed and spawn. Fall can also offer excellent fishing opportunities before the water temperatures get too cold.

3. Susquehanna River

Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania caption By Nicholas A. Tonelli CC BY 2.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpc
The Susquehanna River offers excellent bass fishing opportunities, making it ideal for anglers of all skill levels.

The Susquehanna River is a major waterway in Pennsylvania, known for its exceptional smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing. The diverse sections of this river offer a range of the best bass fishing opportunities for anglers of all experience levels. 

Smallmouth bass in the 2 to 5-pound range are very common in this river, with trophy-sized game fish exceeding 6 pounds possible. I try to target smallmouth near rocky outcrops, submerged logs, and deep river pools and do prefer fishing from boats slowly drifting along the river while casting. 

Effective techniques in the river include using jigs, crankbaits, soft plastic baits, and topwater lures with crankbaits giving me the best results so far. Spring and early summer are prime seasons to target bass on the river as they become more active and move into gently flowing water to spawn. Fall can also provide some of the best bass fishing in this river, especially as the bass feed heavily in preparation for winter. 

4. Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Raystown Lake is famous for its trophy-sized smallmouth bass, attracting both boat anglers and shore fishermen.

Raystown Lake is a massive 8,300-acre reservoir located amidst the picturesque Allegheny Mountains. The lake is extremely well known for its trophy-sized smallmouth bass that can be caught ranging from 3 to 6 pounds, with some exceeding that weight by a considerable amount. 

Smallmouth bass are commonly found near rocky points, submerged structures, and sandy drop-offs towards deeper water areas. Most anglers I have talked to prefer fishing from boats to access the lake’s deeper waters, but you will see a lot of shore fishermen as well that have no trouble hauling in a variety of fish species. 

Effective fishing techniques include using drop-shot rigs, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and crayfish imitations. Spring and early summer are peak seasons for some of the best bass fishing, as they migrate towards shallow water to spawn.

5. Lake Nockamixon

Lake Nockamixon Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Nockamixon is a top fishing destination known for excellent bass fishing, including the chance to catch monster-sized largemouth.

Lake Nockamixon is an absolutely gorgeous 1,450-acre lake located in Bucks County. It provides excellent large and smallmouth bass fishing opportunities and is my number-one destination specifically for monster larges. 

You can expect to catch larges in the 4 to 5-pound range, with pretty regular monster-sized game fish being caught as well. The lake features a variety of habitats, including submerged vegetation, rocky shorelines, and fallen trees that attract largemouth, crappie, and other species. 

Effective techniques include using plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures such as frogs and buzzbaits from a boat, but you can get some decent bites from the shore in the early spring and fall months. 

Spring and early summer are productive seasons for a variety of bass as they move into shallower water for spawning. Fall can also provide excellent fishing as the bass will start to feed voraciously.

6. Lake Arthur

Lake Arthur Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Arthur offers breathtaking scenery and excellent bass fishing opportunities with diverse structures and habitats.

Lake Arthur is a 3,225-acre lake situated within Moraine State Park. In addition to being a beautiful spot for photographs, the lake also offers superb bass fishing opportunities. 

You can target a variety of bass ranging from 2 to 5 pounds, with occasional larger fish being hauled in too. I have yet to find any monster-sized bass here, but the majority of fish will give you a good fight on the line, which makes it extremely exciting!

The lake’s diverse structure, including submerged vegetation, rocky points, and fallen trees, provides ideal habitats for a variety of different bass. Most anglers prefer fishing from boats or a kayak in the main body of the lake, allowing them easy access to cover more water and locate productive spots, but don’t be afraid to toss a line in from the shore or a pier. 

Effective techniques for bass in this lake include using spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastic worms, jigs, and topwater lures. Spring and early summer are prime seasons for bass fishing as they move into shallower water for spawning.

7. Lake Harmony

Lake Harmony Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Harmony provides great bass fishing with cool water year-round and abundant vegetation and structures for feeding and spawning.

Lake Harmony is a small but extremely beautiful 125-acre glacial lake located in Carbon County. It offers excellent bass fishing opportunities and has cool water year-round. 

You can expect to catch bass in the 2 to 5-pound range, with 6-7 pounders being pretty common too. I haven’t seen anything larger than 6 pounds myself, but I have seen others catch them. 

The lake features a huge amount of submerged vegetation, fallen trees, and rocky structures that attract bass in groups for feeding and spawning. Most anglers I have talked to prefer fishing from boats because it gives you the best lake coverage opportunities. 

Effective fishing techniques include using plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures. Since the water here is quite a bit cooler than some other bass lakes in the state of Pennsylvania, the midsummer months are the best times for catching bass as they move into shallower water for spawning.

8. Lake Marburg

Lake Marburg Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Marburg boasts an abundant population of largemouth bass, offering excellent fishing opportunities for anglers of all levels.

Lake Marburg is a 1,275-acre lake located in Codorus State Park that provides excellent largemouth bass fishing opportunities for beginners as well as professionals. Most anglers will catch bass in the 2 to 5-pound range, and they seem very willing to strike, which is great for beginners. 

The lake offers a few different habitats, including submerged vegetation and rocky areas, which are great for bass to hide in. Effective techniques include using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, jigs, and topwater lures.

9. Delaware River

Delaware River Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
The Delaware River is a popular fishing destination for smallmouth and largemouth bass, attracting anglers with boats or shore fishing.

The Delaware River flows through multiple counties in Pennsylvania, providing exceptional fishing opportunities for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass in the 1 to 4-pound range are common in this river, while larges in the 4 to 6-pound range are usually seen. 

You can find smallmouth bass near rocky areas of the river, submerged structures, and deep pools, while larges often reside near thick vegetation, fallen trees, and backwaters. Most anglers you see will be fishing the river from boats, although you can definitely haul in a variety of fish species from the shore. 

Some of the best fishing techniques for catching smallmouth bass in the river include using jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures, while larges will respond well to plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, and frogs

Spring, early summer, and mid-fall are the best seasons for bass fishing in this river, as these fish species move into shallower water for spawning largemouths, to be feeding. 

10. Lake Wilhelm

Lake Wilhelm Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Wilhelm offers excellent bass fishing opportunities along with options for hiking, camping, and photography amidst diverse habitats.

Lake Wilhelm is a 1,740-acre reservoir situated within Maurice K. Goddard State Park can also be great for hiking, camping, and photography. The lake offers some excellent bass fishing opportunities and may even be some of the best in Pennsylvania. 

Anglers can expect to have decent catch rates for largemouth bass in the 4 to 6-pound range, with occasional monster fish being found. The lake features a diverse range of habitats, including fallen trees, rocky points, extremely thick vegetation, and other spots which attract bass. 

Most bass will be caught from boats, although shore fishing is also possible if you have the patience for it. Effective techniques include using spinnerbaits, plastic worms, jigs, and topwater lures

11. Lake Galena

Lake galena Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Galena is known for its abundant largemouth bass population and excellent fishing conditions.

Lake Galena is a 365-acre lake located in Peace Valley Park that offers quality largemouth bass fishing. You can expect to catch largemouth ranging from 2 to 5 pounds quite easily, with occasional monster individuals being found too. 

The lake features submerged vegetation and rocky structures that attract large numbers of bass. Effective techniques for largemouth bass action in this area include using plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures in various colors and sizes. 

Spring and early summer are very good seasons to hit the lake, but the fall season can also provide excellent fishing opportunities as the bass start to fatten up for winter.

12. Lake Ontelaunee

Lake Ontelaunee Bass Fishing Pennsylvania
Lake Ontelaunee offers exceptional largemouth bass fishing and abundant opportunities for anglers to explore new techniques.

Lake Ontelaunee is a huge 1,082-acre lake located in Berks County that is very known for its largemouth bass fishing. Anglers can expect to catch largemouth in the 5-pound range, with monster-sized bass being caught pretty regularly too. 

The lake has a large amount of submerged vegetation, fallen trees, and rocky areas, which attract bass to feed in large numbers. These bass will strike at a number of different lures and baits, including using plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and topwater lures

Spring, early summer, and mid fall are productive seasons for largemouth in this area, and this healthy population of bass seems very eager to strike, making them great for beginners or anglers that want to learn or experiment with new techniques.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.