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.
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.