Pennsylvania Trout Season

Celebrate opening day—and the rest of the season—with this guide to permits, outfitting, and Pittsburgh-area fishing spots. 

Pennsylvania is good to anglers. Throughout the year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) releases hatchery-raised trout into streams and lakes across the state, making the region’s waterways ideal for lifelong anglers and novices alike. “In Pennsylvania, we raise about 3.2 million stock trout that get placed into nearly 900 waterways across the state,” says Mike Parker of the PFBC.

Opening Day(s)

The official opening day (typically the first week of April) is the big kickoff, says Parker, “when people celebrate, that’s the tradition.” Translation: crowds. It’s a festive crowd to be sure, so it can be a lot of fun, but the fishing is still excellent after the opening-day excitement. “The PFBC will continue to stock trout for weeks afterward in most of the popular waterways, be they lakes or streams,” says Parker.

Braving the crowds? Parker recommends applying some of the social-distancing measures we’ve all learned in the last two years. “If you can hold your fishing pole out to either side and give that much space to the person next to you, then you’ll help prevent tangles with others,” he says. 

On Mentored Youth Fishing Day, you’ll find fewer crowds and a lot of positive spirit. As the name implies, any licensed adult parent or mentor can bring any child under 16 years old fishing on this day. “Any adult supervising can fish also, but the creel limit is limited to two fish that day, as opposed to five during opening day,” says Parker. “It's not as crowded, the fish are freshly stocked, and most small kids are good to go after a few hours.”

Red tape: Kids must have a free Youth Mentor permit which helps fund the PAFCB. “The free youth mentor pass lets us know how many people are participating,” says Parker. Get both at

Get a Permit

Anyone who’s 16 and older is required to have a fishing license and, for trout, a Trout Permit . Permits are available from Public Lands stores and at

Where does this money go? Directly to the program that stocks and manages fish. “The PFBC is not funded by tax dollars,” says Parker. “Most wildlife agencies aren’t. It’s a user-pays, user-benefits model. That’s how we’re able to fund our agency and manage our resources.” 

Gear Up

Get ready with the right fishing tackle and tips. Here are few key considerations.

Rod and reel combo: Look for a rod that’s 5 to 7 feet in length and suitable for lightweight lines. A combo kit can offer good value.

Lightweight lines: Your line should be nearly invisible in the water so it won’t spook the fish. Look for lines in the 2- to 4-pound test range.

Lures: Artificial lures come in many different designs, from abstract spoons and spinners to more natural looking baits like minnows and crawfish. They all tend to be cast-and-retrieve style baits and can work well for anglers of all levels. 

Live bait and manufactured attractants: To put it simply, anything that attracts a fish passes as bait, from canned corn, marshmallows, bread, and shrimp to nightcrawlers and salmon eggs. Manufactured attractants offer a reliable version of other live baits in the form of malleable dough and fish egg-size balls, which can easily be slipped onto a hook.

Top Pittsburgh-area Fishing Spots

Cast a line at one of these five winners.  

Deer Creek at Emmerling Park

Just off SR 910 near Indianola, you’ll find Emmerling Community Park and Founder’s Field. This quiet destination is hemmed in by the meandering Deer Creek, which is fishable throughout the park and beyond. Park in the extra parking lot located on the right, prior to descending the hill into Emmerling Community Park proper. From there, you have easy access to Deer Creek from both sides by way of an arched footbridge. 

North Park Lake

The 75-acre North Park Lake is in the middle of the park by the same name. Parking is ample, as are lakeshore opportunities to drop a line. North Park Lake, in addition to being stocked with trout, is home to largemouth bass, crappie, and several catfish species. 

Slippery Rock Creek

This picturesque creek is what you might imagine when conjuring an image of a perfect trout stream. Bordered by trees and strewn with boulders, the waterway exudes “fishiness.” Park at either McConnel’s Mill State Park or near Eckert Bridge off of Cheeseman Road and make use of The North Country or Kildoo Trails to explore and fish the stream.

Turtle Creek

This unassuming little stream cuts through several towns and neighborhoods before merging with the Monongahela River in East Pittsburgh. You’ll find industrial sites along the shoreline, but don’t be put off—consider this a unique urban fishing opportunity. Park in Trafford’s BY Park off of 7th Street and access Turtle Creek from the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which follows the stream north to Murrysville and offers plenty of shoreline access.

Twin Lakes

Located just northeast of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Twin Lakes Park offers 50 acres of stocked water between its two impoundments. Park at the Boat House on reservoir one and pick a spot along the paved boardwalk along the lake’s bank to the north. Twin Lakes Park is home to not only stocked trout, but crappie, bass, and catfish as well. In addition to fishing from shore, you can rent paddle boats (and other watercraft) from the boat house and fish from the water. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.