The Susquehanna river’s broad, shallow waters make it an ideal place for standing mid-stream to cast a fly or troll from a watercraft without the worry of commercial boat traffic. It’s famous for its smallies -- smallmouth bass -- bass, but you can drop a hook for catfish, walleye and panfish as well. With a little luck, you might even catch Northern pike, muskie, pickerel or sauger.
Paddle the Water Trail
Reel in some of the Susquehanna's famous smallmouth bass along the Susquehanna River Trail, which runs 24 miles from the Shamokin dam to Harrisburg. Find your perfect spot among the river’s secluded islands to tempt smallmouths throughout the day using minnows or plastic crayfish and worms. Another hotspot is the confluence with Penns Creek. Although its western portions are a noted trout stream, the eastern end near the Susquehanna is bass territory. You’ll also find muskies, walleyes and catfish in this stretch of river.
Take a Walk in the Park
Lake Augusta provides more than 4 miles of deep waters where you can catch smallies, walleyes, muskies, pike, catfish and crappie. Each spring, the world’s largest inflatable dam goes up, impounding the waters along the confluence of the north and west branches of the Susquehanna. Take a 2-mile hike downstream to cast your line into the tumbling waters below the dam, or follow the paved trail around the south side of Packer’s Island to fish the lake from shore. Put your boat in the water at the park’s public ramps or tie up at a park slip you can rent by the day or the season.
Throw a Hook in the Lake
Enjoy some of the Susquehanna's best bass fishing at Clarke Lake just downstream from Wrightsville. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass live in its waters, along with a variety of fishy friends, including channel catfish, walleye, carp and white crappie. A dam at the Safe Harbor hydroelectric plant impounds the lake, and you’ll find some of the best fishing in the tailrace area where the turbine generators discharge. Head to more good fishing among the Washington Boro Islands upstream from the dam.
Head Up a Creek
If your heart’s hooked on reeling in a brookie, brown or rainbow trout, you’ll find plenty swimming in the cold-water creeks that flow into the Susquehanna. The western reaches of Penn’s Creek provides some of the best fly fishing in the entire state as it flows through the Bald Eagle State Forest into the Buffalo Valley. Another hot trout stream is Mahantango Creek. You’ll find trout in both the upper and lower portions of the stream, with a hotbed of panfish right in the middle. You’ll find public access to the creek at Susquehanna State Park and Susquehannock State Park.
- Susquehanna River Valley Fishing Guide
- Susquehana River Trail Association: GPS Coordinates and Maps
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Susquehanna River Trail
- Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Catch and Release Bass Regulations
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Shikellamy State Park
- Fish on Pennsylvania: Lake Clarke on the Susquehanna
- Fly Anglers Online: Great Rivers -- Penns Creek Map
- Fly Anglers Online: Great Rivers -- Penns Creek
- Sitikka/iStock/Getty Images