The Lebanon Valley is well known for its fertile soils, bustling businesses, and friendly, small-town atmosphere.
But the tranquil waters within reach of any resident or visitor are just as noteworthy, as they offer exceptional opportunities to recharge and recreate with a fishing rod in hand. What follows are a few of the top waters to Fish Lebanon Valley.
Located just off route 72 and Jay Street in North Lebanon Township, Lion’s Lake is a popular destination for spring trout anglers. The 13-acre lake generally receives two stockings of rainbow and golden rainbow trout from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in late March and early April.
The east end of the lake features a parking area and rustic boat ramp for launching canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric motors only. Targeting the structure of the small island, old concrete platform, and dam breast by watercraft can be an effective strategy, as this yields opportunities at less-pressured fish.
Bank fishing remains popular and effective, though, as most areas are well within casting distance of the lake’s perimeter. Live bait suspended beneath bobbers and spinner lures casted to the center of the lake and retrieved with lively action can get positive results.
As the water warms by mid-summer, anglers should anticipate switching from trout fishing tactics to targeting the lake’s plentiful sunfish and bluegill populations. The lake is closed to winter ice fishing.
Memorial Lake is the 85-acre centerpiece that gives the 230-acre Memorial Lake State Park its namesake. Located near Fort Indiantown Gap in the northern portion of the county, this warm water gem hosts fair numbers of largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, chain pickerel, yellow perch, black and white crappie, catfish, and plentiful panfish.
The lake ranges in depth from just a few feet to more than 24-feet deep near its rock-lined dam breast. Structure ranges from lily pads and underwater vegetation to overhanging woody debris and manmade sunken porcupine cribs through the middle of the lake– all of which attract and hold fish.
Two different boat launches make the lake easily accessible for boats with electric motors, but it’s also a favorite destination for paddlers. Bass anglers find success in the early morning hours of daylight with soft plastic lures and enjoy occasional topwater action near the shallows later in the evening.
Micro jigs are effective at enticing crappies and bluegills both on the open water during spring and summer and through the ice in the wintertime, while diving crankbaits or live minnows may be required to lure predatory fish out of the weedy cover when they are eager to feed in the fall.
By far the most treasured trout fishing destination in Lebanon County is the Quittapahilla Creek, or “Quittie” for short, which flows westwardly nearly 17 miles from Lebanon through Annville towards its confluence with the Swatara Creek just north of Palmyra.
Four different stretches receive pre- and in-season trout stockings from the state with brown, rainbow, and golden rainbow trout being delivered annually. These various stockings are further supplemented by private cooperating trout hatcheries, which incrementally place even more trout into the stream for all to enjoy.
It is important to note that the stretch from the Spruce Street Bridge in Annville through the route 934 bridge is a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section. This means fishing is catch and release here for much of the year, and anglers can only use flies or artificial lures. No live or scented bait is permitted along this section.
Because the DHALO stretch also serves as one of the state’s Keystone Select Trout Waters, it tends to harbor larger “trophy-sized” trout, which can be targeted year-round. Because of this special designation, the Quittie Park stretch has become a popular destination for fly fishermen in recent years.
It’s also worth mentioning, for anyone interested in carp fishing, that the Quittie is home to some impressive-sized carp, especially in its slow, deep pools. Quality fish can be had by those who know how to catch them.
A small, hidden gem is the Snitz Creek, which has headwaters near the Borough of Cornwall and flows north to join the Quittie just west of Lebanon City. The Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited has conducted multiple stream restoration projects both on the Snitz and the Quittie which have vastly improved stream flow, shading, oxygenation, and structure – all essential elements to healthy trout populations.
Stoever’s Dam is another top-notch location for multi-species fishing. The 23.5-acre lake, located within a 153-acre park near the northeast boundary of Lebanon City and North Lebanon Township, is a hotspot for the opening day of trout season – especially with its affordable overnight camping rates and well-maintained launch area for electric-powered boats.
Trout can be enticed by live or dough baits fished near the bottom, with spoons or spinning lures worked through the center column, and by slow trolling a hair jig across open water. One of the area’s few locations that receive a late-season trout stocking in early November, it is very popular for ice fishing once the water freezes over in the wintertime. The lake also has decent bass and crappie populations, with a few rare carp in the mix, sustaining year-round fishing.
The closest thing to pure wilderness in Lebanon County is Stony Valley, which is part of the second largest roadless tract of wilderness land in Pennsylvania. Stony Creek runs along a repurposed railroad grade through a basin amid 44,342 acres of state game lands.
For true adventurers, a stocked stretch of Stony Creek can be accessed via mountain bike. The trout fishing is exceptional here, but you’re going to have to work for it, as these waters are just about as remote as it gets.
The Swatara Creek is a 72-mile long tributary to the Susquehanna River, much of which flows through Lebanon County, including Swatara State Park. The “Swatty” harbors smallmouth bass, tiger muskies, channel catfish, sunfish, and suckers. Occasional rock bass, carp, and bluegill can be taken as well. The Swatara Creek Water Trail is well-utilized by recreational kayakers; however, paddlers should beware of several low-head dams and other obstacles along the way. Be sure to wear a personal flotation device and portage around all potential hazards.
The upper reaches of Tulpehocken Creek, which flow through Myerstown and its outskirts, are generally stocked in March, April, and May with rainbow and golden rainbow trout. The most productive areas to target are from the Creamery Street Bridge to just downstream of Flanagan Rd.
While you’re there, consider checking out the nearby Lakeside Quarry, which gets stocked with brook trout early in the season and is open to year-round fishing. Bass, panfish, and carp can also be taken as the water warms.
Regardless of locale, the Lebanon Valley offers ample opportunities to wet a line and soak in the sights and sounds of a thrilling day on the water. Get out there and make the most of your treasured chances to Fish Lebanon Valley.
For a full list of PA Fishing License Issuing Agents in Lebanon County, click here.
About the blogger
Tyler Frantz is an award-winning freelance outdoors writer and educator from Annville, PA, where he resides on a small hobby farm with his wife and two children. His writing, photography and online media regularly features hunting, fishing, outdoor-themed travel, and conservation-based topics. Learn more by visiting www.naturalpursuitoutdoors.com