|Reminder: The PFBC does not monitor ice thickness. Ice thickness and conditions can vary greatly across the lake. Use caution as you head out onto the ice. A life jacket and a set of ice awls can be extremely important if you fall though the ice. Remember SAFETY FIRST: http://fishandboat.com/safety.htm
Ice fishing at Kaercher Creek Dam in Berks County has produced some bass and bluegills; however, the last two weeks were slow.
For some great winter trout ice-fishing opportunities, try Antietam Lake. Antietam Lake is stocked seasonally with trout by the PFBC. Remember to always let someone know where you are going ice fishing and how long you plan to be out. Good Luck and Happy Fishing!
Anglers at Struble Reservoir continue to catch perch, sunfish as well as a few walleye through the ice. The best spots are straight out and slightly left off the boat ramp and 75 to 150 yards out. The best bait seems to be fathead minnow for the perch, large shiners for the walleye and mealworms for the sunfish. Try fishing baits about a foot off the bottom under a tip up, or jigged about a foot off the bottom on a jigging rod. You will usually find anglers working the lake, so if you are new to ice fishing, just ask one for help and they are usually eager to do so.
Anglers are catching panfish through the ice at Coatesville Reservoir. Try small fathead minnows fished just off the bottom on tip-ups about 100 yards from the center of the dam.
If you have been itching to get out of the house, you should consider ice fishing. Just when we gave up on having any measurable ice, this last record breaking frigid weather snap has started freezing up the local lakes once again. If the cold weather holds, make sure to check the ice conditions onsite before going out. If not, some of the lakes in the Northern areas of the state may still be fishable. The time to get some super deals on ice gear is in the spring, you will not believe some of the discounts that are available at the end of the ice fishing season. Of course once you have snagged your deals on ice fishing gear, you will have to store it for the next season. Anglers here in Chester County are having luck on Marsh Creek & Struble and Coatesville Reservoir. Anglers are not permitted to ice fish on Chambers Lake. One of the most productive ways to fish is through the ice. Ice that appears to be thick enough to safely walk on in one spot can be dangerously thin just a few feet away. Ice anglers need some very warm clothes. There are usually no trees or structure to shelter you from the wind while ice fishing so you will have to dress for the cold. A float coat will help to keep you warm while fishing and it will keep you afloat if you fall through the ice. You should also have a set of ice awls for this same reason. Ice awls are jabbed into the ice and allow you to pull yourself out of the water.
With safety gear covered, here are some of the common items you will need to fish on the ice. A sled can be helpful for taking your gear out on to the ice. Bring a camp chair or bucket along as well. A bucket with a cushion top is great for storing gear and gives you a place to recover after chopping holes into 12-inch thick ice. You can use ice shanties or a shelter on Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Lakes (Struble Reservoir in Chester County) but it must be removed at the end of your fishing day. Shelters can be purchased rather inexpensively and range from a simple material lean-to type to a rather heavy structure with skids on the bottom that slide across the ice. You can also build your own, and there are many plans available online. You will need a tool to break holes in the ice. An ice bar works well and the advantage of the bar is that swinging it will warm you up. They are also inexpensive. A hand auger is faster and easier than a bar, or you can even purchase a gas-powered auger. Keep the auger blades sharp! In Pennsylvania, your ice-fishing hole can be no wider than 10 inches measured at the widest point. You will need something to remove ice pieces from the holes. An ice scoop, skimmer, or a small dip net will work for this.
Let us talk about tackle. In Pennsylvania, each person fishing can use up to five devices. Each device can hold only one line. Remember that your lines and tip ups must be under your immediate control while fishing in the Commonwealth and individuals 16 and over must have a valid Pennsylvania Fishing License. You can use standard fishing rods but you will find that they are awkward to use because of the length. Short Ice fishing/jigging rods are better suited to the job and are very inexpensive. You can also use ice fishing tip ups. These are a horizontal X shaped device that sits flat over your hole, with a vertical bar mounted in the center of the X. The top of the bar has a flag on it that you bend down and set, which then releases when a fish pulls line from a reel mounted at the bottom of the bar releasing line and triggering the flag.
For bait, try mealworms, small fatheads, shiners and jigs. For the jigs, simply tie them on to your ice fishing rod, then lower them to the bottom, take up about a foot of line, lift, and drop your rod tip a few inches to a foot. Try this with different motions and vary the amount that you jig the rod tip and change colors if you do not have any action or bites. For live bait, put your mealworm, fathead or shiner on a hook and lower it to the bottom. Then either pull your line up about a foot or set your tip up so that your bait is suspended about one foot from the bottom of the lake and wait for a strike.
Remember safety first! Follow the rules, have some fun, catch some fish and do not forget your thermos! For ice safety, go to http://www.fishandboat.com/safety.htm.
For those of you looking for some fishing opportunities other than through the ice, the White Clay Creek DHALO Section is now open. The DHALO section is from Good Hope Road, downstream 1.7 miles to the confluence with the mouth of the White Clay Creek. The White Clay Flyfishers stocked the section with over 500 beautiful brown trout, most in the 10 to 14 inch size. Numerous large trout in the deep holes were spotted at each bridge crossing and there is virtually no fishing pressure. Remember that this is a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Section so make sure you follow the law, and don't forget that fishing license if you’re 16 or older.
The Shikar Safari Club is accepting applications for a yearly scholarship of $5000 from both graduate and undergraduates studying the fields of Wildlife & Range Management and Law Enforcement. For more information go to
The White Clay Fly-Tying club will meet at 6PM on Thursday, January 29th at the London Tract Meeting House in the White Clay Creek Preserve, located at the intersection of Sharpless & London Tract roads, Landenberg PA 19350, next to White Clay State Park Office. With the cold weather upon us, many of us are looking for a place to go or some activity to hold us over until we can wet a line again and this is the perfect thing. Fly tying materials are provided for those who do not yet have their own. Several flies are usually demonstrated and club members are happy to show you how it's done, as well as spin a few stories about the last huge one that got away. Club mailing address is P.O. Box 762, Landenberg, PA 19350 for more information. Parking for club is behind the White Clay State Park Office.
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival will be on Saturday February 28st at 6:30 PM at the Lancaster County Convention Center. You can get more information on the website at http://flyfilmfest.com/IF4/
Fly-fishing instruction will be offered at the Fly Fishing Federation Learning Center at the Fly Fishing Show in the Lancaster County Convention Center on Saturday, February 28 from 9 AM to 6 PM & Sunday, March 1 from 9 AM until 4:30 PM. Basic fly casting, fly tying, and knot tying will be offered during the show. For more information, you can go to the website http://www.flyfishingshow.com/Lancaster.html
Ice fishing has been good at Leaser Lake the last couple of weeks. Anglers caught muskies up to 30” on medium size shiners from tip ups and jigging. The pickerel are biting as well. As a reminder, all fish, except trout, must be immediately returned to the water on Leaser Lake at this time.
Minsi Lake has been giving up a few bass and bluegills on smaller minnows. Bluegills and some perch primarily on mealworms, mousies, and butterworms jigged near the bottom of the lake. Pickerel have been biting as well on larger shiners.
Ice fishing is in full swing throughout most of the county. Tuscarora Lake has been good for trout, perch, bluegill, and pickerel. Live minnows have worked for pickerel and have picked up the occasional trout or perch. Wax worms and small jigs are working well for panfish and trout. A few new trees have fallen into the lake and have been producing good numbers of fish including walleye and crappies. Locust Lake has seen moderate ice fishing pressure but has proven to be a good spot for winter trout fishing. Good numbers of trout have been taken as well as a few perch and pickerel. The PFBC Access Area near Auburn Dam has seen a few ice anglers traveling back to the cove near Auburn Boat Club. This area is very good for bluegill fishing and also produces perch and crappies. Anglers should be very cautious and note the ice can be very inconsistent and the channel is still open water.