Located at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, the city of Pittsburgh offers a wide range of fishing options. You can catch bass, walleye and a variety of game fish right in the city. Of course, the area of western Pennsylvania surrounding Pittsburgh is home to a number of additional options, with dozens of lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams that support a diverse array of fish species.
Where Three Rivers Meet
The Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, merging to form the Ohio River, which flows west all the way to the Mississippi. With some of the best fishing in the state, the three rivers provided the setting for the 2005 Bassmaster Classic tournament in which the three-day total catch of pro angler Kevin VanDam netted him a $200,500 prize. While giant bass are hard to come by, the rivers harbor abundant populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass in the 1- to 2-pound range, with some of the best fishing taking place around bridges and piers. The rivers also offer excellent fishing for walleye and channel catfish. Several marinas and public boat ramps provide a launch point for boats, and the Three Rivers Water Trail includes dozens of put-in and take-out points for canoes and kayaks.
A Land of Lakes
Dozens of lakes dot the landscape around Pittsburgh, and while you can catch fish at most of them, a handful really stand out. Canonsburg Lake, about 30 minutes south of the city, provides fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and catfish, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) stocks brown and rainbow trout annually. A large portion of the shoreline is open for fishing, and a public ramp is available for electric and non-powered boats. Keystone Lake, accessible through Keystone State Park, provides similar fishing opportunities, along with Glade Run Lake and Raccoon Creek Lake. Public access and launch facilities are provided at each of these lakes, though boats are restricted to electric motors and non-powered craft only. Some of the best fishing typically takes place during spring and early summer.
Trickling Trout Streams
Fly fishermen can choose among several rivers and streams in the Pittsburgh area. The closest options include Montour Run, Pine Creek, Deer Creek, Flaugherty Run, the Youghiogheny River and Turtle Creek. These streams and others are stocked annually with brown trout, rainbow trout, or both by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Stocking generally takes place just before trout season opens in April, and some waters receive a second round of stocking in fall. You can find trout stocking schedules on the PFBC website. Fly fishermen on these streams often find success by casting flies that imitate caddis flies, mayflies and other insect species as they hatch throughout the year. Spinners, soft plastic lures and live worms can also be effective.
Know Before You Go
Wherever you decide to fish in the Pittsburgh area, a current Pennsylvania fishing license is required. You can purchase a license online through the Fish and Boat Commission website, or at various retailers across the state. Licensing agents in Pittsburgh include Ultimate Outdoors, Dicks Sporting Goods and the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office. When you get your license, be sure to pick up a copy of the annual "Pennsylvania Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws," a free guide to all the state's fishing limits, seasons and other regulations. This guide is also available as a download from the PFBC website.
- Popular Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Information on Fishing
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Three Rivers Water Trail
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Pennsylvania Lakes
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: County Guide
- Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Issuing Agents for Fishing Licenses