Fishing North Park Lake

Photo: Allegheny County

Opportunities for warm-water species abound at this Pittsburgh-area gem.

You don’t need to stray far to find great fishing. Just 15 miles north of Pittsburgh lies the sprawling 3,000-plus-acre North Park, the largest in Allegheny County—not to mention one of its most activity-loaded locations, with tennis courts, pavilions, a massive swimming pool, dog park, hiking and biking trails, a treetop obstacle course, playgrounds, ball fields, hockey rink and movie theater. Given all these attractions, you’d be forgiven for seeing the eponymous North Park Lake as an overlooked bauble on the neck of an already beautiful and activity-filled greenspace. 

That’d be a mistake, however, if you’re out to fish. The excellent opportunity that the lake provides to anglers both new and seasoned is what headlines the on-water action here. The 75-acre, roughly boomerang-shaped lake is home to a number of warm-water species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and channel catfish. The impoundment is also stocked with (mostly) rainbow trout four times a year from March through November. 

Fishing Recommendations

With an average depth between 7 and 22 feet, North Park Lake is relatively shallow, with several areas dense with weeds and lily pads, providing cover for ambush predators like largemouth bass. Prospective anglers should look at snag-free topwater options such as an SPRO Bronzeye Frog, or a Strike King Swim Jig. Tried and true spinners and crankbaits, in addition to the evergreen hook-worm-bobber combo, are options that can produce results as well. 

While walking anglers can access almost all of the shoreline, those on watercraft will likely have an advantage. And with two different public launches, it’s super easy and accessible to get your boat on the water. Non-electric boats under 16 feet are permitted and require a launch permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Local tip: Try launching from the Spillway Lot at the intersection of Babcock Blvd., and Pierce Mill Road. It’s located roughly in the middle of the lake and requires paddlers to go through a tunnel under Pierce Mill Road—always a fun foray.

If relaxing on a walk or posting up on a camp chair is more your game, park at the Boat House lot on Pierce Mill Rd., and stroll roughly northwest along the shoreline that parallels Tennis Court Rd., until you find your own fish-iest spot. You’ll eventually reach the north fork of Pine Creek (where rainbow trout have been known to hold), and a footbridge that provides access to the lake’s southern bank

Photo: Allegheny County

Eats

Looking for some of the best pub-grub in the county? Head to shore-side Over The Bar (OTB) Bicycle Cafe, located in the lake’s Boathouse. Owned and operated by passionate mountain bikers and foodies, this bicycle-themed hotspot serves up mouth-watering appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and salads, along with a staggering menu of on tap brews. Though veggie and gluten-free options abound, there’s only one Dirt Rag Delight burger, named for the now-defunct mountain bike magazine, which features a healthy smear of peanut butter, dill pickles and American cheese (don’t hate it until you try it!). 

Treats

Blue Bunny Ice Cream & Frozen Treats operates out of a little concession in the Boathouse parking lot, offering ice cream options and other guilty-pleasure frozen confections.

Boat Rental

If you don’t have a boat of your own, adults (or those under 18 accompanied by one) can rent one through Venture Outdoors, located one door down from OTB (mentioned above). Available offerings include canoes, solo and tandem kayaks, standup paddleboards and pedal boats, all of which can be rented on an hourly basis. More Info: ventureoutdoors.org

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.

MORE STORIES