Lake Arthur Fishing: Angler’s Guide to Moraine State Park

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Spanning 3,225 acres in Western Pennsylvania, Lake Arthur is easily one of the best fishing lakes in this part of the state. It’s best known as a trophy largemouth lake, but bass are just part of the story. 

In addition to some of the best largemouth bass fishing in Pennsylvania, the lake offers catfish, crappie, walleye, muskellunge and hybrid stripers.

Anglers cast and troll along the lake’s many points and sunken road beds in summer and drop jigs through the ice in winter.

About 36 feet deep, Lake Arthur is a mostly-shallow, fertile, artificial impoundment that supports healthy weed beds in summer and provides varied bottom structure. Shoreline cover like downed trees and brush in its sheltered coves also makes it an excellent kayak fishing lake. 

Located within Moraine State Park, Lake Arthur’s 42-mile shoreline is easily accessed by shore-bound anglers as well. All of the lake, with the exception of a game propagation area at its upper end, is open to fishing.

Lake Arthur’s Top Gamefish

Largemouth Bass Fishing

Lake Arthur has long enjoyed a reputation as arguably Pennsylvania’s best trophy largemouth lake. In all fairness, the lake’s star may have dimmed somewhat in recent years, but it’s still one of the top bass lakes in the state. 

Recent surveys suggest that 12- to 16-inch largemouths dominate catches, but bigger bass are still caught here, including the occasional 6- or 7-pounder. Trophies aside, Lake Arthur is still tough to beat for numbers. 

Some of the best fishing takes place in May as pre-spawn largemouths head into Lake Arthur’s bays and coves, bringing their appetites with them. Shoreline deadfalls, rock piles and shallow brush are key targets this time of year.

May is also a good time to fish because bass fishing is still catch-and-release only, which means no tournaments are allowed. However, fishing pressure greatly increases once tournament season opens, typically the second Saturday in June.

That being said, bass fishing in Lake Arthur continues to be excellent in summer, and lots of hefty largemouths are caught well into the dog days of August. Alewives and gizzard shad are both on the menu for bass, and crankbaits and spinnerbaits that mimic either can be effective.

Focus on beds of milfoil in Lake Arthur’s coves just after the spawn in early summer, and then shift to deeper cover later in the season.

Lake Arthur has several submerged roads and railroad beds that hungry largemouths patrol.

The state has been working on several major habitat improvement projects in Lake Arthur in recent years, including placing post clusters, cribs, downed trees and rock piles throughout the lake. This fish structure map showing their location is a handy fishing tool.

Lake Arthur Striper Fishing (Hybrid)

Lake Arthur is for hybrid striped bass what Huntingdon County’s Raystown Lake is to pure stripers. That is to say, it’s probably the best hybrid striper lake in the state.

The PA Fish & Boat Commission has been stocking hybrid stripers in Lake Arthur since the mid-’90s. These sterile crosses of striped and white bass are sometimes called wipers or whiterock bass.

Officials plant around 16,000 fingerlings here every year, and these fish ultimately grow to sizes over 24 inches and may top 10 pounds.

Throughout most of the year, hybrids spread throughout the lake, usually in areas 12 feet deep or more. Trolling across points and along submerged road beds is the go-to search tactic.

At certain times, hybrid striper location is more predictable.

Spring is the season when they’re most likely to be found in shallow water, and anglers catch them from bank spots and fishing piers using paddle-tail swimbaits, live alewives, and Rapala X-Rap jerkbaits.

May and June are the best months to be on the water. Alewives spawn at night in Lake Arthur’s shallow coves during these months, and hybrids follow them close to the banks to dine on the abundant forage.

A feeding frenzy often starts around dusk on May and June nights and continues long after dark. Rat-L-Traps and surface lures that create some noise and vibration usually work best for night fishing.

During the summer months, keep an eye on the lake’s surface.

Circling gulls and surface commotion often give away a pod of hybrids blitzing shad or alewives up top, and you can score some nice fish by carefully approaching the melee.

Catch More Stripers

We’ve compiled a list of Pennsylvania’s best striper and hybrid striper fishing lakes.

Channel Catfish Fishing

Channel catfish are widespread across Pennsylvania, but few lakes produce more big cats than Lake Arthur. Anglers catch quite a few channel catfish over 10 pounds here every year, and 2- to 5-pound fish are incredibly common.

Even so, channel cats don’t get a ton of pressure in Lake Arthur. That may simply be because there are so many types of fish available that catfish often swim under the radar.

But catfishing is excellent from the time the lake first starts warming up in spring right through fall. In spring, some of the best fishing is at the upper end of the lake, where the shallow water warms up quickly. 

The lake is often quite turbid in spring, which means catfish bite well throughout the daylight hours, sometimes even on sunny days.

In summer, when the lake has warmed and cleared considerably, night fishing is usually better. However, daytime angling can still be worthwhile, especially on rainy and overcast days.

On summer nights, catfish are commonly caught close to the bank in just a few feet of water. During the day, look deeper. Prime spots include the sunken railroad bed between Barbour and Neely Point, along with the US-422 and PA-528 bridge piers.

Anglers commonly use chicken livers and other smelly, natural baits to catch channel cats. But contrary to their reputation as slow bottom feeders, they’re also known for scarfing down live alewives intended for hybrid stripers or even gobbling up bass anglers’ jigs and crankbaits.

A 2022 Fish & Boat Commission trap net survey of Lake Arthur also found a small number of flathead catfish, some measuring up to 36 inches.

Catch More Catfish

Lake Arthur is on our list of the best catfish fishing lakes in Pennsylvania. What other lakes and rivers made the list?

Learn the secrets to catfish fishing in our simple guide.

Other Fish Species

Lake Arthur offers great fishing for an impressive variety of warm-water game fish. The PA Fish & Boat Commission stocks several additional species in the lake, while others occur naturally.

Walleye Fishing

The Fish & Boat Commission has been stocking walleye in Lake Arthur for several decades, with over 100,000 fingerlings going into the lake most years. Even so, the lake hasn’t quite gained the same reputation as, say, Pymatuning Reservoir, about an hour away.

But the walleye fishing in Lake Arthur can be excellent, especially in spring and fall. Lots of walleye in the 5-pound class are caught here. 

The best fishing tends to be after dark. As soon as the season opens in early May, focus on shallow, hard-bottomed areas. Walleyes will have just finished spawning, and you can count on them being hungry.

Deeper structure is more productive during the day and in warmer weather. Key areas include humps at the lower end of the lake, the section of submerged railroad off Nealy Point, bridge pilings along Route 422, and various sunken road beds.

Dragging nightcrawlers on worm harnesses and Lindy rigs is a popular tactic, and many anglers also jig blade baits over deep structure. Storm Hot-N-Tot crankbaits are local favorites.

Catch More Walleye

While Lake Arthur rates as a good walleye lake, find some great spots in our article on the best walleye fishing in Pennsylvania.

Check our our easy how-to guide on walleye fishing tactics, lures and baits.

Muskellunge Fishing

Lake Arthur harbors some massive muskellunge but also has a reputation as a tough place to catch them. Muskies are notoriously challenging in any lake, but you really need to put your hours in on Lake Arthur.

Still, there are big fish out there. Muskies over 50 inches have been reported and trap net surveys have pulled up multiple fish in the high 40s. Trolling is the best way to cover water and put the odds in your favor for catching one.

As a general rule, you can eliminate coves from your search grid. Muskellunge in Lake Arthur favor main lake structure, including humps, points and depressions. The various road beds across the bottom of the lake are especially likely places to encounter muskies.

It pays to have a good topographic map of the lake. Identify the road beds, and troll them relentlessly.

Gizzard shad are a favored forage for Lake Arthur muskies, so try trolling with beefy shad imitations like Rapala Super Shad Raps and Boss Shad lures.

Catch More Muskies

Find the best muskellunge fishing lakes in PA.

Crappie Fishing

Lake Arthur crappie fishing is consistently good, and some years it crosses over into “great” territory. It all comes down to the cyclical nature of crappie populations, which swing wildly depending on the strength of any given year class.

During an exceptional year, it’s possible to nab black and white crappies that measure over 15 inches and weigh 2-plus pounds. But even during an average year, lots of 9- to 12-inch crappies are available. 

Spring is prime time to catch them.

Warming temperatures start to attract crappies into shallow water in early April (though they often shift back and forth between deep and shallow).

Lake Arthur’s bays and coves are often productive right through May into June. 

The Muddy Creek arm of the lake can be great for spring crappies. Look at any areas where the Fish & Boat Commission has placed crib structures or downed trees along the shoreline, and check along bridges too.

Crappies—especially larger crappies—scatter around deeper weed edges in summer but return to shallow cover in October and November.

Live minnows beneath a bobber are the top bait, while a wide range of small jigs also do the trick.

Catch More Crappie

Lake Arthur made the cut for the top crappie fishing lakes in Pennsylvania. See what other waters made the list.

Also be sure to check out our simple crappie fishing techniques and tips.

Bluegill Fishing

An exceptional bluegill fishery is available in Lake Arthur.

Some of the most abundant fish in the lake, bluegill commonly reach lengths of 8 or 9 inches here, and are some of the most frequently caught fish by ice anglers.

When Lake Arthur freezes over, anglers take to its coves and catch a bounty of bluegill while ice fishing.

Bluegill typically stick close to any green vegetation that remains in winter and readily bite mealworms and waxworms on micro jigs, often in less than 10 feet of water. 

Bluegill are equally easy to catch during the warmer months. They’re some of the first fish to congregate in shallow areas as the lake warms up in early April, often schooling together in 2 feet of water or less.

In June, bluegill spawn on Lake Arthur’s soft-bottomed flats, and some of the biggest bluegill of the year are easily caught using small soft plastic jigs and bits of nightcrawler.

You may spot hundreds of bluegill nests across the bottom when the water is clear enough.

Catch More Bluegill

Follow our simple bluegill and sunfish fishing tips to catch more of these fun panfish.

Planning Your Trip

Lake Arthur is a quality four-season fishing lake. The period from spring into early summer offers some of the best fishing. A 20-horsepower limit on outboard motors usually keeps the summer boat traffic from becoming too overwhelming. Ice fishing in winter can also be excellent.

Getting to Lake Arthur

Lake Arthur is in Butler County, about a 40-minute drive north of Pittsburgh via I-79. Several access points along the south side of the lake are just off US-422, and PA-528 crosses the upper end of the lake.

Bank & Boat Access

Moraine State Park completely surrounds Lake Arthur and offers a wide variety of access, including eight boat launch sites.

Cabin rentals are available in the park, and several private campgrounds are located nearby. 

The Upper and Lower 528 boat ramps are good places to start near the upper end of the lake. The Porters Cove and Bear Run Ramps (the latter of which also has a fishing pier) are good options toward the lower end. 

The Old Route 422 Launch, located at the southern tip of the Big Run arm of the lake, also has a fishing pier in addition to launch facilities. The nearby Pleasant Valley launch, which is used only for non-powered craft like canoes and kayaks, also has a fishing pier.

The state park operates two marinas on the north shore of Lake Arthur, located at Watts Bay and Davis Hollow. Docking and launch facilities with ample parking are available at both sites.