Few lakes in Pennsylvania offer a greater wealth of fishing options than Lake Wallenpaupack. Bass, trout, walleye and panfish are just a few of the options anglers have at this large reservoir in the Pocono Mountains.
One of Pennsylvania’s largest lakes, Wallenpaupack spans 5,700 acres and reaches depths up to 60 feet.
The lake offers a little something for everyone, with deep rocky structure, weedy coves, and a clearly defined channel that meanders back and forth between banks.
It’s also a popular spot for camping and recreational boating, so it gets quite a bit of pressure in the summertime.
Originally built in 1926, Lake Wallenpaupack is formed by a dam on Wallenpaupack Creek a little over a mile above its confluence with the Lackawaxen River.
Lake Wallenpaupack Bass Fishing
Lake Wallenpaupack is one of Pennsylvania’s best bass lakes. Both black bass species are common here, but smallmouth bass are by far the dominant species, outnumbering largemouths nearly seven-to-one in PA Fish & Boat Commission surveys.
It’s not hard to see why. Lake Wallenpaupack offers endless rocky points, channel swings and ledge structure that smallmouths love. Therefore, anglers also have a lot of prime habitat to choose from.
In springtime, the bass fishing turns on first at the upper and lower sections of the lake, with the middle part of the lake catching up a little later. Good early spots include Mangan Cove near the dam and the Ledgedale area at the upper end.
The spawn gets underway at the end of May, and June 1st usually finds bass in various stages of pre-span, spawn, and post-spawn throughout the lake. It’s a good time to focus on coves and shallow areas between the bank and the first major drop-off.
Generally speaking, the lower third of the lake has the rockiest habitat, while the upper lake is more river-like, with steep channels, shallow weed beds, and quite a few boat docks.
The river channel swings back and forth between the banks from Ledgedale down past Cairns Island and Ironwood Point to Burns Island, and this whole stretch offers excellent bass fishing.
Hit the transitions between deep and shallow water with jigs or suspending jerkbaits.
In summer, it often pays to focus on shallow water early and late in the day and switch to drop-offs and deep weed lines between 15 and 20 feet as the sun rises.
Strohs and Martins coves are good areas, along with Goose Pond Cove and Oakview Point.
Wallenpaupack is more of a numbers lake than a trophy bass lake, with lots of healthy smallmouths measuring 15 to 18 inches. Largemouths, though less common, can top 5 pounds.
Weed growth in the lake has increased in recent years, and largemouth bass numbers are also on the upswing.
Target weed beds and boat docks with spinnerbaits and soft plastics, and expect a mixed bag of both species.
More: You’ll find Lake Wallenpaupack among our choices for the best smallmouth bass fishing in Pennsylvania. It didn’t make our rundown of the best largemouth bass lakes in PA, but you can check those out, too.
Finally, if you want to brush up on your skills, check out our easy how-to bass fishing guide.
Striped bass have been stocked in Lake Wallenpaupack since the 1980s, and the lake has developed into an exceptional striper fishery.
Historically, the Fish & Boat Commission has also stocked hybrid stripers here as well. But hybrid stocking was suspended in 2022 to focus more on the pure strain striped bass fishery.
Spring and fall are the best times for Lake Wallenpaupack striper fishing. These fish prefer cooler and calmer waters, so the warm temperatures and persistent boat traffic of summer make fishing difficult.
However, if you plan your trips from April to early June and late September through October, the striped bass fishing can be outstanding.
Anglers routinely catch solid 8- to 12-pound stripers and the occasional monster in the 30-pound class. The key to locating stripers is locating alewives, their primary forage.
In early spring, look for stripers near the dam and off major points like Shuman, Simons and Ironwood in 20 to 40 feet of water.
As the lake warms up into the 50s, stripers will increasingly move into coves and closer to shore, especially at night, as alewives head inshore to spawn.
In May, Martin’s Cove, Mangan Cove, Walt’s Cove, and the stretch from Ironwood Point to Cairns Island are key areas.
Vertically jigging with bucktails and jigging spoons is effective when stripers are in deeper water. Try a soft jerkbait or topwater when they’re feeding closer to the surface.
Stripers stick close to the thermocline as Lake Wallenpaupack heats up and stratifies in summer. Although anglers catch a few big fish by trolling, many anglers shift their focus to other species until fall.
Once the lake cools off again by October, stripers return to many of their spring haunts. Lots of them are caught off points in 10 to 20 feet of water, and both casting and trolling can be effective.
More: Find the best striper fishing lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania and then catch more of them with the best techniques and tips for catching freshwater stripers.
Lake Wallenpaupack offers a productive walleye fishery, though catching these elusive fish consistently can be tricky. The Fish & Boat Commission has been stocking walleye fingerlings here for decades, and lots of 20- to 25-inch fish are available.
The best season to catch them is spring, though walleye fishing is closed from March 15 to May 5 to protect them when they spawn.
However, as soon as the season opens in May, anglers catch good numbers of walleye as they return from spawning in Wallenpaupack’s tributaries.
The best fishing tends to be after dark off shallow points and rocky shorelines. Trolling or casting stickbaits like Rapala Husky Jerks and Storm Thundersticks is the preferred tactic.
Throughout May and into June, walleye typically spend their days in deep water and head into shallows to feed at night. For shorebound anglers, in particular, fishing from dusk until dawn is the best bet.
Like stripers, walleye feed on spawning alewives on May nights.
Focus on shallow, gravel-bottomed areas with a gentle slope near the main channel. Walleye are typically 2 to 10 feet deep at night. Areas around Burns Island and Kipp Island often yield some quality fish.
Live bait is also effective, and many anglers fish live nightcrawlers and minnows on spinner rigs. There’s a good chance you’ll hook up with a striper or two as well, and perhaps a few of the feisty channel catfish that also prowl the lake’s shallows at night.
Catching walleye during the day isn’t out of the question, but it usually requires setting your sights at 15- to 25-foot depths.
The night bite continues into summer, though it often shifts a little deeper. The riprap off the dam tends to be productive this time of year.
Though walleye are generally bottom-oriented fish, they occasionally suspend in summer to feed on alewives near the surface. So if you’re not getting any action close to the bottom, try fishing a little higher in the water column.
In October and November, walleye are once again more likely to be caught in shallow water.
A lot of chunky winter walleye are pulled up through the ice in January and February as well.
More: Lake Wallenpaupack scored an honorable mention among Pennsylvania’s top walleye fishing lakes and rivers.
Learn some of the simple tips and tricks to catching walleye.
Anglers can take advantage of an incredibly prolific yellow perch population in Lake Wallenpaupack. These fish are easily caught almost year-round and bite readily on a wide variety of baits.
Perch are some of the most abundant fish in Fish & Boat Commission trap net surveys, and the size of the fish is also quite impressive. The most recent survey turned up perch as large as 15 inches, and more than half of the fish measured were above 9 inches.
Size distribution tends to vary based on the strength of any given year class, but Lake Wallenpaupack has been a reliable perch factory for decades. Some of the best perch fishing takes place in winter.
Lake Wallenpaupack usually offers a solid window of safe ice, with February being the best ice fishing month. Wallenpaupack is a favorite destination for ice fishing, and it’s common to see the lake littered with ice shanties on a good day, and perch are the most often-caught species.
Mangan Cove, Martin’s Cove, and the area between Epply Island and the shore are some of the most reliable spots. Popular lures include Northland jigging spoons and Rapala Jigging Raps.
Plenty of great perch fishing is available during the warmer months too. Yellow perch spawn in protected cove areas in early spring, and a lot of them are caught around shoreline cover and marina docks this time of year.
Live nightcrawlers and small tube jigs are some of the most popular perch baits during the open-water seasons. Small live minnows are another top perch bait.
Perch love gravel- and sandy-bottomed areas and will almost always be found near some green vegetation.
More: Lake Wallenpaupack is probably the best spot in the eastern side of the state to catch these tasty fish, and it also rates among the best yellow perch lakes across Pennsylvania.
Learn the simple ways you can fill your fish bucket with our favorite yellow perch fishing techniques.
Other Fish Species
A wide range of fish species have been stocked in Lake Wallenpaupack since it was first dammed and created in 1926, some of which were originally native to Wallenpaupack Creek, and some of which were not. Today, common catches include:
Lake Wallenpaupack is deep enough (and cold enough) to support a two-story fishery, and the Fish & Boat Commission has been stocking brown trout here for decades. Multiple state record browns have been caught here over the years.
Though big brown trout still call the lake home, much of the fishing pressure on Lake Wallenpaupack is directed elsewhere. Browns are notoriously wary and hard to catch, so don’t expect to catch a lot of them. But you do have an honest shot at a 10-pounder here.
Spring and fall are the best seasons, and most of the biggest trout are caught by trolling during the months of May and June. Run lures at least 100 feet behind your downriggers to avoid spooking the fish, and look for big marks on your electronics near schools of alewives.
Depths of 15 to 25 feet are usually best during the day, but trout often move shallower around dusk. The stretch from Sunset Point to Fern Cove is a good trolling run, and other key areas include Calico Point, Walt’s Cove and Martin’s Cove.
In October, when trout head up into Wallenpaupack Creek on their spawning run, focus on channel edges at the upper end of the lake.
Anglers also catch some big brown trout through the ice in winter.
Channel catfish are common in Lake Wallenpaupack, and although they have not been stocked regularly since 2000, the population continues to sustain itself through natural reproduction. Lots of 5- to 7-pound cats are caught here, and some are significantly larger.
Summer nights offer some of the best catfish fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack, though these fish are easily caught throughout spring, summer and fall. The only time the fishing gets tough is in June, when channel catfish are spawning.
Anglers catch plenty of channel catfish from the bank in Mangan Cove, near the face of the dam, and in just about all of the other coves around the lake.
Catfish typically spend their days in deep water and head shallow to feed after dark, often in just a few feet of water.
To catch catfish during daylight hours, you’ll have the best luck on rainy, overcast days. Fish smelly, natural baits like chicken livers and cut bait so they suspend just barely off the bottom.
Lake Wallenpaupack also supports a very abundant population of brown bullhead, which commonly weigh a pound or two. They attract a lot of angler attention when they head into shallow coves to spawn in early April.
Lake Wallenpaupack regularly produces some of the largest chain pickerel in Pennsylvania. Pickerel are quite abundant here, and Fish & Boat Commission surveys show that nearly half the population is over the legal harvest limit of 18 inches.
Chain pickerel are ambush predators, and they commonly prowl ledges, drop-offs, docks, piers, fallen trees, and especially the edges of weed beds. Casting around the edges of dense vegetation is a good bet.
Known for their toothy jaws and energetic runs, chain pickerel will strike almost any lure that resembles a baitfish. Zoom Flukes and other soft plastic jerkbaits are effective, and lures with erratic action are often best.
Topwaters often draw strikes from pickerel around dawn and dusk. These fish inhabit areas all over the lake but are especially common in bays and coves.
Northern pike, closely related to chain pickerel, are also caught occasionally in Lake Wallenpaupack, though they are much less common. The occasional muskellunge is reported as well, though Wallenpaupack isn’t really known as a muskie lake.
Bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish and black crappie are all available to anglers in Lake Wallenpaupack, giving anglers who target panfish plenty of opportunities.
Crappies are most often caught in spring.
In April and May, warming temperatures draw black crappies into shallow coves, and areas like Martin’s Cove and Mangan Cove produce a lot of fish. It’s also a good idea to drop jigs and minnows around marina docks this time of year.
Crappies go through boom-and-bust cycles, so numbers vary. Typically, 9- to 12-inch fish are common. Occasionally, crappies up to 3 pounds are caught here, fattened up by the abundant alewives.
Bluegill are abundant and easy to catch, especially in late spring and early summer, when they spawn in vast colonies across Lake Wallenpaupack’s shallow, soft-bottomed coves. Anglers also jig up plenty of ‘gills through the ice in winter.
While not a favorite catch by most anglers, rock bass are also abundant and grow big here. It’s common to hook into rock bass measuring up to 12 inches while fishing for smallmouth bass in rocky areas.
Catch More Crappie and Bluegill
Planning Your Trip
Much of the best fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack takes place in spring and fall. Although summer fishing can also be excellent, boat traffic makes the lake a challenging place to fish at this time of year.
The landscape around the lake is largely rural, but several small towns offer lodging and other amenities nearby. Bait and tackle shops are located in Hawley, Wilsonville and Lakeville.
Getting to Lake Wallenpaupack
Lake Wallenpaupack is located in the Pocono Mountains, about 30 minutes east of Scranton via I-84 and PA-348. It’s also about 90 minutes north of Allentown and a little over 2 hours from New York City.
Bank & Boat Access
The PA Fish Boat Commission operates a free public launch ramp at Mangan Cove, near the dam. The only free launch on the lake, this is one of Wallenpaupack’s primary access sites, and a fishing pier and bank access are also available here.
The lake is owned and operated by the Brookfield Renewable Energy Company, which maintains four recreation areas around the lakeshore:
- Wilsonville Recreation Area, at the east end of the lake just above the dam.
- Caffrey Recreation Area, near the midpoint of the lake on its north shore.
- Ironwood Point Recreation Area, on the south shore toward the upper end of the lake.
- Ledgedale Recreation Area, at the upper end of the lake near Wallenpaupack Creek.
Each of these four sites offers launching, fishing access, and camping for a fee. Launch fees are waived for campers.