Ice may not be your favorite topping on area highways, but for some winter sports enthusiasts, it's ecstasy. Take ice fishermen for instance. When the region's lakes and ponds freeze with a solid five inches of ice from shore to shore, there's a boat load of cold water pan fish to be caught. Here's where:
DEEP CREEK LAKE
Green Lane, PA 18054
Close to home, Deep Creek Lake on Green Lane Park in upper Montgomery County draws local ice fisherman for it's bounty in trout, crappies, bluegill and bass. It's easily accessible from Route 29 and there's plenty of parking. Park Director Mark Shope makes the decision on when to allow fishing. He wants to see 5 inches of ice to declare it, safe. At 7 inches he'll open a rink, near the fishing ground for skating. The best bet is to call ahead for information on ice conditions or check out: http://www2.montcopa.org/parks/cwp/view.asp?A=1516&Q=26377
MARSH CREEK LAKE
Park Rd. off route 100, 2 miles west of Eagle, PA.
Some of the top ice fishing spots can be found at Pennsylvania State Parks. In nearby Chester County when temperatures remain constantly in the freezing range, Marsh Creek Lake, a pristine 535 acre waterway is brimming with fish, ready to jump in the pan. You'll find largemouth bass, muskelunge and walleye along with an assortment of smaller panfish. One warning here, the ice is not monitored and park management recommends making sure that the ice is at least 4 inches thick. That means carrying an auger to check the thickness as well as drill that fishing hole, and always fish with a buddy.
FRENCH CREEK STATE PARK
Park Rd. Off PA 345 north of route 23
Elverson, PA 19520
Hopewell Lake in nearby Berks county is one of the region's more picturesque sites. Right now it's among the top spots for ice fishing. By late January the ice here reached a thickness of 11 inches and fishermen reported catching panfish and bass on wax worms and minnows. But park management here too, does not monitor the ice, so it's important to test the thickness before venturing too far from shore. You can check the French Creek Winter report for occasional ice and snow condition notices before going at: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/winter/winterb.aspx?park=6406
Park View Drive, off PA 563, 5 miles east of Quakertown.
Quakertown, PA 18960
Covering 1,450 acres, Lake Nockamixon has become the most popular water sport activity center in Bucks County. A variety of panfish and bass are sticking to ice fishing gear, and by late January the lake had accumulated a 7 inch thick plate of ice. There's plenty of parking here, but park management does not monitor the ice and warns ice fishermen to use caution, carry safety equipment and fish in pairs.
Hawley, PA off Route 6
If you're looking for an overnight destination to rack up a lot of ice fishing time near lodging and restaurants in a rustic setting, head for Lake Wallenpaupack. The massive manmade 5,700 acre lake runs 13 miles from end to end and occupies sections of both Pike and Wayne counties in the upper reaches of the Pocono Mountains. The altitude and latitude provides some of Pennsylvania's coldest temperatures and that makes for good ice depths. Ice fishermen here snag bass, trout and perch along with a variety of panfish. At it's deepest point, the "Pack" plunges to 60 feet. The region is rich in motels, inns, B&B's, even cabins for overnight lodging and a range of restaurants from fast food to fine dining. For more on ice fishing opportunities here, check out:
Some important tips:
- Always carry safety equipment including rope and a life cushion that can be thrown.
- Wear a life jacket, especially on deep lakes and ponds.
- Drill several test holes to make sure the ice thickness is safe.
- Always fish with a partner.
- Dress in layers.
And of course, cook fish shortly after catching.
Reported by Jay Lloyd
for more features.