The 10 Best Crappie Fishing Lakes in Pennsylvania: Local Expert’s Guide

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Pennsylvania’s scenic landscapes are not only a haven for outdoor enthusiasts but also a hidden gem for avid crappie anglers seeking the thrill of crappie fishing in amazing lakes. With its diverse array of smaller lakes and waterways, the Keystone State offers an abundance of opportunities to reel in these prized fish from its turbid waters of many lakes.

From the cool water temperatures of the Pocono Mountains to the sprawling reservoirs nestled among rolling hills, each of these many lakes promises not only excellent black crappie and white crappie fishing but also breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice looking to embark on a crappie-catching adventure in the state’s clear water, this guide will unveil the top ten crappie lakes in Pennsylvania.

Crappie Fishing Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lakes host both black crappie fish and white crappie fish, with sizes ranging from the average 8 to 12 inches to impressive crappie trophies pushing beyond 15 inches. The fishing techniques for capturing these elusive fish are as varied as the lakes themselves, from trolling and casting to the art of fly fishing in the state’s clearer waters with varying water temperatures.

As the seasons change, so do the crappie fishing tactics at the lakes, with spring and early summer until early June providing fertile ground for shallow-water spawning and winter offering the opportunity for ice fishing in select lakes. Before embarking on this adventure, crappie anglers should be aware of the state’s crappie fishing regulations, ensuring the sustainability of crappie fish populations in all lakes and waterways.

1. Lake Wallenpaupack

Lake Wallenpaupack Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania

Lake Wallenpaupack is nestled in the Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is known to anglers for its absolutely stunning beauty. This lake covers over 5,700 acres and has a wide range of sport fish species making it one of the best lakes for you to visit for crappies. Public boat launch ramps, marinas, and various shoreline access points offer easy entry to this crappie fishing lake.

Crappies averaging 7 to 9 inches are common in this lake, but larger crappie exceeding 13 inches can be found too, especially during the spawning season when larger female crappie become more active. Shore fishing is possible at the lake, especially around public access points and parks, and is one of my personal favorite methods of crappie fishing at Wallenpaupack Lake.

Crappie fishing, trolling, and jigging near submerged structures of the lake, such as fallen trees, weed edges, and underwater brush, will get you the best results from the black and white crappie fish here. Some of the crappie fishing baits I focus on using at this lake are minnows, jigs, small crankbaits, and soft plastics. These baits and lures are great choices for crappie fishing at Lake Wallenpaupack, but they can also get you some other fish species, including bass, walleye, and sunfish.

2. Pymatuning Lake

Pymatuning Reservoir Lake Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania

Located in Northwestern Pennsylvania near the Ohio border and extremely well known to anglers for its black crappie and white crappie fish populations, Pymatuning Lake or Reservoir spans over 17,000 acres and offers prime crappie fishing opportunities. Multiple public boat launch ramps, crappie fishing piers, and ample shoreline access points around the lake are available so you can choose your favorite crappie fishing spot easily.

Crappies at the lake typically range from 10 to 13 inches in size, but many crappie anglers have landed some 15 and 16-inch trophy-sized crappie fish. Shore crappie fishing is excellent at this lake, with designated piers and accessible crappie fishing spots, but you can also find some great clusters of crappie towards the middle of the lake in the deeper areas from a boat.

Drifting or slow trolling near aquatic vegetation, brush piles, and sunken trees will give you the highest chance of getting a larger black and white crappie bite at this lake. Most lake anglers will recommend using live minnows, small jigs, and plastic baits of various types here since they are effective for catching crappies, bluegill, bass, and perch.

3. Lake Arthur

Lake Arthur Pennsylvania Walleye Fishing

Situated in Moraine State Park in Western Pennsylvania, Lake Arthur covers approximately 3,225 acres and makes a perfect family-friendly crappie fishing destination for anyone who loves the outdoors in general, especially crappie fishing anglers. Boat ramps and shoreline crappie fishing access points are available throughout the park, giving you 42 miles of shoreline at this lake to pick your perfect crappie fishing spot.

Crappies at this lake typically measure around 9 to 12 inches, but some 14-inch black crappie fish have been caught as well. There are ample opportunities for shore crappie fishing at the lake too, particularly around the marina and crappie fishing docks. But heading out on a boat will get you over some deeper areas which is great for midsummer crappie fishing days.

Casting or drifting near submerged structures and underwater humps is the best method to use at this lake for crappie, whether you are boating or shoreline crappie fishing. Minnows are what many anglers here at this lake, and small jigs are an effective second option for crappie fish here.

4. Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake Smallmouth Bass Fishing Pennsylvania

Found in South-Central Pennsylvania, Raystown Lake is the state’s largest lake that is entirely self-contained within the state borders and covers over 8,000 acres. Multiple boat ramps and shoreline access points are scattered around the 118 miles of shoreline at this lake and have decent water clarity.

Crappies at this lake typically range from 9 to 13 inches, but 10 inches is the most common. Shore crappie fishing is possible, particularly near coves and inlets, but taking a small boat out will be your best option for reaching deeper water of the lake, which can be up to 200 feet maximum depth.

Casting your bait or lure near submerged trees, brush piles, weed edges, and submerged rock structures at this lake will give you the highest chance of landing a few black crappie fish or white crappie fish. Minnows, jigs, and soft plastic worms or wigglers are the most reliable baits for catching crappies here.

5. Presque Isle Bay

Situated in Erie, Northwestern Pennsylvania, Presque Isle Bay is a part of Lake Erie and offers more than 3,000 acres of water surface averaging about 20 feet deep. Public boat launches and marinas provide access to the bay, as well as allowing access to the larger connected Lake Erie.

Crappies often measure 10 to 13 inches in size here, but much larger black crappie fish up to 15 inches can also be caught somewhat regularly. While shore access is limited, there are designated crappie fishing piers available if you don’t want to head out on a boat or can’t find a local boat commission.

Trolling and vertical jigging near structures, submerged vegetation, heavy cover, weed beds, and aquatic vegetation are great options for crappies at this lake, especially around the bay’s many northern edge ponds and lagoons.  Live minnows, small jigs, small crankbaits, and soft plastic tube baits are my go-to for crappie fishing here, and most crappie anglers you ask in this area will probably agree.

6. Nockamixon Lake

Lake Nockamixon Pennsylvania Walleye Fishing

Located in Bucks County, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Nockamixon Lake covers right around 1,450 acres and has a healthy population of crappies. Boat ramps and shoreline access points are available at the lake within the surrounding Nockamixon State Park, giving you some very scenic options for setting up a great crappie fishing spot.

Crappies in this lake are typically around 11 to 12 inches, giving you some great chances of catching a few good-size keepers. Shore crappie fishing is popular for many crappie anglers, especially around the marina area of the lake, where shallower water and a variety of different fish seem to gather throughout the year.

Direct casting or drifting near submerged structures such as submerged cover, underwater points and drop-offs will get plenty of the best crappie bites you’ve had in a while. Minnows and small jigs are the most effective baits for black crappie and white crappie fishing here, and I usually stick to small jigs since they can pull in crappie, smallmouth bass, and various other sought-after species of fish without having to switch out.

7. Lake Marburg

Lake Marburg Bass Fishing Pennsylvania

Lake Marburg is one of the state’s smaller lakes located in Codorus State Park, South-Central Pennsylvania, covering approximately 1,275 acres. There are boat ramps and shoreline access points for crappie anglers located at various spots around the lake’s 26-mile shoreline.

Most anglers can expect to catch crappies in the 9 to 12-inch range here, with some larger black crappie fish hitting 14 and 15 inches, giving you a good chance at catching some trophy-sized fish. Shoreline access for easy crappie fishing is available, particularly near the northeastern area of the waterway, where boat traffic is low.

Fishing around submerged timber, brush piles, submerged vegetation, and rocky structures will help you find groups of crappie and many other sought-after species. Minnows and other live bait and small vertical jigging are what I see used the most here, but I have had excellent results with spinnerbaits in the northeast area of the crappie lake.

8. Sayers Lake

Found in Bald Eagle State Park in Central Pennsylvania, Sayers Lake, also known as Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, spans approximately 1,730 acres and has plentiful groups of crappies around the lake. There are boat launches along the northern shore of the lake and shoreline crappie fishing access areas around the entire 23-mile shoreline of the lake, offering plenty of crappie fishing spots for anglers.

The crappie population at this trophy fishery often has fish that range from 9 to 12 inches in size, but a few larger crappie can be caught somewhat regularly. Shoreline access for crappie fishing is plentiful, including crappie fishing docks, giving anglers quite a few different options for setting up.

Casting near submerged timber, aquatic plants, docks, weed beds, and underwater structures is my preferred method at this lake since a variety of different fish can be found gathering in those areas. Live bait like minnows and artificial small jigs are effective for white crappie and black crappie fishing, but anglers can also hook a few perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and muskie.

9. Marsh Creek Lake

Located in Chester County, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Marsh Creek Lake covers around 535 acres of clear water for a variety of different fish species to call the lake home. Boat ramps and shoreline access points provide entry to the lake, not to mention it’s one of my preferred spots for ice fishing for crappies in the state.

Crappies typically range from 8 to 11 inches in size here, making it easy for you to get a fish that is large enough to keep for eating if that is your goal. Shore access is available at several spots around the entire lake, especially around the dam area in the south of the lake, but boat ramps are easy to access as well.

Casting around submerged heavy cover, underwater humps, weed edges, and rocky structures will get the quickest and best results with black crappie and white crappie. Live bait, smaller fish jigs, and soft plastics are used by almost everyone here, and soft plastic worms and tubes are my preferred method here since they work for a variety of different fish species and get quick strikes when specifically crappie fishing.

10. Yellow Creek Lake

Yellow Creek Lake is one of many lakes that are small and cozy situated in Indiana County, Western Pennsylvania, covering approximately 720 acres of beautiful blue water for crappie fishing. There are a few boat launches and a handful of shoreline access points around the lake, which crappie anglers flock towards, but the easiest access points for crappie fishing are located in the northwest area near McFeaters Cove. Anglers can find some shallow water and steady water temperature spots for more crappie fish to be found in the stained water clarity at this spot.

Crappies typically measure around 9 inches in size here, but some trophy 16-inch black crappie were caught in the deeper water, along with some small 4-inch crappies that were quickly tossed back into the shallow bays. While limited in their access points around the lake, shore crappie fishing is possible along the shoreline in some areas of the lake.

Casting near submerged brush piles, sunken trees, and underwater structures are my preferred locations in this crappie lake, especially when boat traffic is low. Live bait and finesse jigs are the most recommended bait and lures to use here, but I highly recommend using curly tail grubs since they are effective for black crappie and white crappie as well as several other species.

Pennsylvania Crappie Fishing: Bag Limit, Size Limit, and Other Rules

Pennsylvania’s crappie fishing regulations reflect the state’s commitment to preserving the crappie population for other local anglers across its many lakes. Many anglers voluntarily practice catch-and-release at the lakes, even when not mandated by regulations, in order to help preserve these fish for future generations to enjoy.

The state of Pennsylvania imposes bag limits and size restrictions to ensure the health and sustainability of crappie populations at its lakes. Typically, anglers are allowed to catch up to 20 crappies per day statewide with no set season. However, it’s essential to check the specific regulations for the waterbody you plan to fish since bag limits can vary by location, especially in restricted waterways or certain national parks.

In addition to crappie fishing bag limits at the lakes, there are often size limits in place to protect smaller than trophy-sized fish. Commonly, a size limit of around 9 inches is enforced, requiring you to release any crappies that do not meet this threshold.

Some waters may have seasonal restrictions in place for crappie fishing, too, especially during the spawning periods. These restrictions are designed to safeguard black and white crappie populations during their vulnerable phases and may include temporary closures or more stringent regulations.

Most lakes allow you to fish from the shore or a boat, with a few having boat commission options if you want to rent one for the day or weekend. In my opinion, the best time to visit the state is in early June when crappies and other fish are extremely active and willing to strike.

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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.
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