Best Catfish Fishing Lakes & Rivers in Pennsylvania

  • Updated August 10th, 2023

Pennsylvania, with its diverse array of lakes and rivers, offers catfish anglers a wealth of opportunities to reel in impressive catches. From the mighty rivers to serene lakes, the Keystone State boasts a variety of catfish species and fishing experiences. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the best catfish fishing lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania, showcasing the prime spots for catfishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to embark on a catfishing adventure, this guide has you covered.

Best Catfish Fishing Lakes & Rivers in Pennsylvania

Catfish Fishing in Pennsylvania: An Overview

Pennsylvania’s diverse waterways offer an abundance of catfish species, including channel catfish, flathead catfish, and blue catfish. Whether you’re fishing from the banks of a river or casting from a boat on a lake, Pennsylvania’s waters provide an exciting and rewarding catfishing experience. The state’s varying landscapes ensure that catfish enthusiasts of all skill levels can find their ideal fishing destination.


Best Catfish Fishing Rivers In Pennsylvania

Susquehanna River

The Susquehanna River, one of Pennsylvania’s iconic waterways, offers excellent opportunities for catfish anglers. Known for its channel and flathead catfish populations, the Susquehanna provides diverse fishing experiences. The areas around Harrisburg, York, and Williamsport are particularly productive for catfishing. The river’s currents, rocky structures, and deep holes create ideal habitats for catfish. The Susquehanna River is a prime spot for both bank and boat anglers.

Ohio River

The Ohio River, which forms Pennsylvania’s western border, is another top destination for catfish enthusiasts. This river hosts a variety of catfish species, including channel, flathead, and blue catfish. The Ohio River’s vastness and depth offer ample room for anglers to explore different fishing techniques. Areas around Pittsburgh and Beaver are known for their productive catfishing opportunities, making the Ohio River a must-visit destination for catfish anglers.

Delaware River

The Delaware River, flowing through eastern Pennsylvania, is a diverse catfishing destination. Channel catfish and flathead catfish are commonly found in the river’s waters. The areas around Philadelphia and Trenton are popular spots for catfishing. The Delaware River’s mix of urban and rural surroundings adds an interesting dynamic to your fishing experience. Whether you’re targeting catfish from the riverbanks or a boat, the Delaware River offers an exciting adventure.


Best Catfishing Lakes in Pennsylvania

Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, is a picturesque catfishing destination. This lake is home to channel catfish and flathead catfish. The lake’s diverse underwater structures, including submerged timber and rocky areas, create ideal catfish habitats. Raystown Lake offers both bank and boat fishing opportunities, allowing anglers to explore its serene waters and potentially reel in trophy-sized catfish.

Blue Marsh Lake

Blue Marsh Lake, located near Reading, is known for its channel catfish and flathead catfish populations. This lake’s diverse shoreline and submerged structures make it a versatile catfishing spot. Bank fishing is popular here, with ample access points for anglers. Blue Marsh Lake’s calm waters and scenic surroundings provide a serene backdrop for your catfishing endeavors.

Pymatuning Lake

Pymatuning Lake, situated in the northwestern part of the state, is a haven for catfish anglers. This lake hosts channel catfish and flathead catfish, offering opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. The lake’s extensive shoreline and abundant cover provide an ideal environment for catfish to thrive. Pymatuning Lake is a family-friendly destination, perfect for introducing young anglers to the joys of catfishing.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, offers a unique catfishing experience for anglers seeking larger waters. While channel catfish and flathead catfish are present, Lake Erie is known for its impressive blue catfish population. The Presque Isle Bay area, near Erie, is a productive spot for catfishing. The lake’s size and depth require a different approach, often involving boats and specialized techniques.

Beltzville Lake

Beltzville Lake, located in the Pocono Mountains, is a scenic and productive catfishing destination. Channel catfish and flathead catfish inhabit the lake’s waters, offering diverse opportunities for anglers. The lake’s coves, points, and submerged structures provide excellent fishing spots. Beltzville Lake is a great place for bank fishing and offers a tranquil setting for a day of catfishing.

Shenango River Lake

Shenango River Lake, nestled in the western part of the state, is a popular catfishing location. This lake is home to channel catfish, flathead catfish, and blue catfish. The lake’s varying depths and underwater structures create a diverse catfish habitat. Shenango River Lake is a favorite among boat anglers, who can explore the lake’s different areas for optimal catfishing opportunities.


Hidden Catfishing Spots in Pennsylvania: Small Rivers and Streams

Juniata River

The Juniata River, a tributary of the Susquehanna, is a hidden gem for catfish anglers seeking a quieter fishing experience. Channel and flathead catfish are abundant in the Juniata’s waters. The river’s smaller size allows for intimate catfishing adventures, often involving kayak or canoe fishing. The Juniata River’s scenic beauty and diverse habitats make it a favorite among local anglers.

Youghiogheny River

The Youghiogheny River, flowing through southwestern Pennsylvania, offers an escape to nature for catfish enthusiasts. This river is home to channel catfish and flathead catfish. The Youghiogheny’s fast currents and rocky areas provide exciting challenges for anglers. Bank fishing is popular, and the river’s remote stretches offer a sense of adventure as you pursue catfish in its pristine waters.

Schuylkill River

The Schuylkill River, near Philadelphia, provides urban catfishing opportunities for city-dwelling anglers. Channel catfish and flathead catfish inhabit the river’s waters. The Schuylkill’s accessibility and proximity to the city make it a convenient option for those looking to escape the urban hustle for a relaxing catfishing experience. The river’s diverse habitats and historic surroundings add a unique charm to your fishing journey.

Conemaugh River

The Conemaugh River, flowing through western Pennsylvania, offers a serene and picturesque catfishing experience. Channel and flathead catfish can be found in its waters. The river’s calm currents and rocky structures create an environment where catfish thrive. The Conemaugh River’s beauty and peaceful atmosphere make it a great place to connect with nature while pursuing your catfishing passions.

Lehigh River

The Lehigh River, winding through the Pocono Mountains, provides a pristine catfishing environment. Channel and flathead catfish inhabit the river’s waters, with opportunities for bank and boat fishing. The river’s clear waters and scenic surroundings add to the allure of catfishing in this natural setting. Exploring the Lehigh River allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of Pennsylvania’s landscapes.

West Branch Susquehanna River

The West Branch Susquehanna River offers a tranquil catfishing experience in north-central Pennsylvania. This river hosts channel and flathead catfish, creating a diverse fishing environment. The river’s meandering currents and hidden pockets make it an exciting destination for catfish anglers. The West Branch Susquehanna River offers a sense of seclusion and serenity as you pursue catfish in its pristine waters.


Tactics and Techniques for Successful Catfishing

Pennsylvania’s catfish require different approaches based on species, habitat, and waterbody size. Common techniques include:

  • Bottom Fishing: Using bait on the lake or river bottom to attract catfish.
  • Float Fishing: Suspending bait at a certain depth using a float to entice catfish.
  • Drift Fishing: Allowing your bait to move with the current, covering a larger area.
  • Night Fishing: Many catfish species are more active at night, making nighttime fishing productive.
  • Cut Bait and Live Bait: Using fresh or live bait like shad, bluegill, or chicken liver.


Essential Catfishing Gear and Tackle

When catfishing in Pennsylvania, ensure you have the right gear:

  • Fishing Rods and Reels: Choose sturdy rods and reels capable of handling catfish’s strength.
  • Fishing Line: Opt for heavy-duty line that can withstand the fight of catfish.
  • Hooks: Circle hooks are preferred for catfishing, promoting catch-and-release.
  • Weights and Sinkers: Use appropriate weights to keep your bait near the bottom.
  • Bait: Select fresh or live bait like shad, bluegill, or chicken liver.
  • Fishing License: Always have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license before heading out.


Final Thoughts:

Pennsylvania’s lakes and rivers offer a rich tapestry of catfishing experiences that cater to anglers of all levels. Whether you’re drawn to the tranquility of a serene lake or the challenges of a fast-flowing river, the Keystone State’s waters are brimming with opportunities to catch catfish. As you plan your catfishing journey, remember to respect the environment, follow fishing regulations, and savor every moment spent on the water.