Lake Nockamixon Fishing: Complete Angler's Guide (2024)

Lake Nockamixon has excellent fishing close to Philadelphia and Allentown. We show you how, when and where to catch largemouth bass, stripers, catfish and more.

Surrounded by the wooded, rolling hills of Bucks County, Lake Nockamixon offers some of the best fishing within an easy drive of Philadelphia and Allentown.

A wide variety of warm-water game fish, including largemouth bass and channel catfish, are abundant at this 1,450-acre reservoir.

Tohickon Creek, Hayco*ck Run and Three Mile Run feed the reservoir and form smaller coves that branch off the reservoir’sreservoir’s main body.

Lake Nockamixon reaches a maximum depth of 85 feet near the dam at its eastern end. But most of the lake is considerably shallower, with low gradients and abundant nearshore cover.

These include fish habitat structures like post clusters, rubble piles and porcupine cribs that the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has placed in the lake.

Nockamixon State Park surrounds the reservoir and offers ample access.

Table of Contents

Lake Nockamixon Bass Fishing

Lake Nockamixon is widely regarded as one of the best bass lakes in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Largemouths are abundant and, thanks to special regulations under Pennsylvania’sPennsylvania’sBig Bass Program, they often reach trophy sizes.

Recent electrofishing surveys suggest that most largemouths in Lake Nockamixon fall into the 15- to 18-inch size class, and anglers often land 4-pound bass. Even fish up to 7 or 8 pounds are not outside the realm of possibility.

That being said, these fish are quite well-fed by the lake’slake’s abundant alewives and gizzard shad, so you may have to work for them. Even anglers who are very familiar with the lake can experience nonstop action and total strike-out days back-to-back.

The best fishing is often centered around shoreline structure on the main lake, especially in springtime.

Lake Nockamixon has numerous points and coves that offer rocky banks, stump fields, flats and drop-offs. Weed beds also grow prolifically in summer.

Check out the stump-filled south shore west of The Three Mile Run boat launch for spring bass action, or work the northern shore between the marina and the fishing pier. The latter stretch is especially productive once some weeds start to grow.

The Tohickon Creek and Hayco*ck Run coves also offer a lot of great bass water.

Try bottom-bumping a jig or Texas-rigged worm around stumps, or twitch a Zoom Fluke over the tops of the weeds.

Once the weeds reach the surface in summer, the shoreline can become challengingly weed-choked. A topwater frog can produce some big bass early and late on summer days, and some anglers use soft plastics with heavy weights to punch through the slop.

The dog days of summer can be tough, but cooler fall waters often reinvigorate bass fishing. Largemouths are likely to be looking up this time of year, so try a spinnerbait or jerkbait high in the water column.

Generally speaking, Lake Nockamixon’s bottom is soft and gently inclined at its upper end, and steep and rocky near the dam. Largemouths dominate areas throughout the lake, but anglers also catch a few smallmouth bass at the lower end.

Catch More Bass

We’ve compiled rundowns of both the best largemouth bass fishing in Pennsylvania as well as the state’s best smallmouth fisheries.

Learn the many ways to entice these gamefish with our simple how-to guide to black bass fishing.

Striper Fishing

Lake Nockamixon is one of several reservoirs that the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission stocks with striped bass, and it has become one of the most consistent striper lakes in the southeastern part of the state.

Hybrid striped bass—raised in hatcheries by fertilizing eggs from white bass with sperm from striped bass—were also stocked here up until 2016. In more recent years, hybrid stocking has been suspended here to focus on pure striped bass.

The best month of the year to fish for stripers on Lake Nockamixon is May, when the fish are often in relatively shallow water near shore. They feed heavily on alewives, which spawn in shallow water this time of year.

May offers the best shot at nabbing a few stripers from the bank. But lots of fish are also caught by trolling throughout spring, fall and, to a lesser extent, summer.

The key is locating schools of alewives and gizzard shad, which stripers follow in open, often seemingly featureless water. Spotting a cloud of baitfish on your electronics is often a lot easier than marking individual stripers.

The stretch on the main lake between Tohickon Cove and the Hayco*ck boat access site is the best bet for striper trolling in springtime. In summer, deeper areas near the dam are often better.

If blind trolling in open water sounds intimidating, start by working the creek channel. Striped bass commonly move up and down the lake following the channel, and key areas include points and channel swings.

Stripers often pursue baitfish onto nearby flats adjacent to the channel, especially at night. Diving crankbaits like Rapala Deep X-Raps and Shad Raps are great trolling lures, along with spinners and skirted swimbaits.

Rat-L-Traps and fluke-style soft jerkbaits are great for casting in shallow water or near the surface. Drifting live baitfish can also be a great option. Striped bass in Lake Nockamixon commonly weigh 5 to 10 pounds, and occasional fish may top 15 pounds.

Catch More Stripers

Find Pennsylvania’s best striped bass spots with our handy guide.

Catch more stripers in Pennsylvania with our complete guide to striped bass fishing in lakes and rivers

Catfish Fishing

Offering one of the most prolific channel catfish populations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Lake Nockamixon easily ranks among the best catfish lakes in this part of the state. Eating-sized fish up to 5 pounds are incredibly common, and 10-pound cats are not hard to come by.

The Fish & Boat Commission stocked channel catfish here for many years, but stocking was discontinued after 2003 when surveys showed that catfish were reproducing naturally to such an extent that stocking was no longer necessary.

In spring, as Lake Nockamixon warms up, the catfish fishing does the same. April through May offer great opportunities to catch a mess of catfish, as warming water temperatures draw cats into shallow creeks and coves.

Days right after a spring rain are the best times to fish, as the influx of sediment and nutrients prompts heavy feeding, and the cloudy water makes daytime catfishing better.

Channel catfish fishing slows down a bit when the fish spawn in June, but picks right up again in summer. There’s great fishing all summer, but the best bite is usually after dark during the warmer months.

Nockamixon State Park’s day-use facilities shut down at sunset, but fishing is allowed on the lake 24 hours a day. Anglers catch lots of catfish from the park’s fishing pier, and the bridge across Hayco*ck Cove is another excellent spot.

Any smelly, natural bait can tempt channel cats. Cut bait made from gizzard shad or bluegill is a great choice, but many catfish are also caught using chicken livers, nightcrawlers and dough baits.

Lake Nockamixon also has a substantial population of brown bullhead. Frequently caught alongside channel cats, they are considered a nuisance by many but attract a crowd of devoted anglers who catch them when they enter the lake’s creeks and coves to spawn in early spring.

Flathead catfish, which are not native to this area but are occasionally reported.

These big catfish have never officially been stocked in Lake Nockamixon, so their origin is something of a mystery. A 30-inch flathead turned up in a Fish & Boat Commission trap net survey in 2015.

Catch More Catfish

Find the top catfish fishing lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania.

Now, figure out what bait to put on which hooks with our simple catfish fishing how-to guide.

Other Fish Species

A diverse fishery exists beneath the surface of Lake Nockamixon, so don’tdon’t miss an opportunity to target some of these additional species:

Muskellunge

Lake Nockamixon offers solid musky fishing, primarily thanks to regular stocking of tiger muskellunge by the Fish & Boat Commission. Tiger muskellunge are hatchery-reared hybrids of muskellunge and northern pike.

The months of April through June offer good opportunities to find tiger muskies in relatively shallow water, with stump areas, rock piles and laydown trees being prime targets. As weed beds develop in summer, tiger muskies are often caught along deep weed edges.

Trap net surveys indicate solid numbers, though the potential for Lake Nockamixon to produce trophy-size tiger muskies is limited. Fish in the 30- to 36-inch range are fairly common, but larger fish are rare.

In addition to the tiger muskies stocked by the state, pure strain muskellunge have also been stocked in Lake Nockamixon by private organizations. Though less common, there is evidence of limited natural reproduction among the pure muskies.

Any large lure that resembles a shad or alewife has a good chance to tempt muskies to bite, including spinners, spoons, swimbaits and crankbaits. Methodically working cover in the 8- to 15-foot depth range is usually the best approach.

More: Check out the best places to catch muskies in Pennsylvania.

Walleye

Lake Nockamixon was heavily stocked with walleye up until 2012, and the lake continues to support a substantial walleye population. That being said, they’re often hard to find and catch, and Nockamixon has not developed a reputation as a consistent walleye lake.

But hey, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Anglers who manage to track down some walleye here often end up catching fish over 8 pounds.

Spring nights are the best times to find success for Lake Nockamixon walleye fishing. This season is closed from March 15 to the first Saturday in May, and once the season reopens, post-spawn walleye will be on their way back to the main lake from creeks and coves.

Casting and trolling stickbaits and worm harness rigs around rocky structure is a good tactic. Walleye often hunt fairly close to the bank after dark in springtime, and anglers catch some quality fish from Hayco*ck to the dam.

Ice anglers also catch walleye through the ice in winter. Lake Nockamixon doesn’t generally freeze over entirely, so ice fishing is typically restricted to the coves.

More: Find the best walleye fisheries in Pennsylvania, and learn the walleye fishing tactics, timing, and other tips to put more in your boat.

Panfish

A wide variety of panfish are available in Lake Nockamixon, with bluegill being the most common species. They bite readily on small jigs and bits of nightcrawler in shallow, weedy areas of the lake in virtually every season.

While bluegill are abundant, they don’t generally reach impressive size here. Smaller bluegill, along with occasional pumpkinseed sunfish and yellow perch, make great fodder for kids to catch on family fishing trips. Anglers catch plenty from the state park fishing pier.

There is, however, some excellent crappie fishing in springtime. Both black crappie and white crappie are common, and the Fish & Boat Commission has stocked both species in past years.

Crappies reliably congregate in shallow water in early spring, with the coves formed by Tohickon Creek and Hayco*ck Run being a couple of reliable haunts. Look for crappies around brush, laydown trees, weeds and the Route 563 bridge crossings throughout April and May.

Crappie populations can be cyclical, but lots of 9- to 12-inch fish are usually available. Try suspending a small minnow under a float in the aforementioned areas or jig vertically around submerged brush and vegetation.

More: We’ve compiled the best Pennsylvania crappie fishing lakes in one handy article. We also have a how-to guide with proven crappie-fishing techniques and a similar guide to bluegill and sunfish fishing.

Chain Pickerel

Though they are seldom targeted specifically by anglers, Lake Nockamixon harbors a healthy population of chain pickerel. Commonly reaching 24 inches and weighing around 3 pounds, chain pickerel are toothy predators known for putting up a hard fight.

Pickerel tend to favor shallow, weedy areas. They’re commonly caught in Lake Nockamixon’s coves in the summertime, especially along the edges of weed beds and around the lily pad fields that expand across shallow parts of the lake’s surface during the warmer months.

Pickerel are known to strike any lure that resembles a baitfish, including all kinds of spinners, spoons, crankbaits and stickbaits. They often attack lures intended for largemouth bass.

Planning Your Trip

Though the landscape immediately surrounding Lake Nockamixon is rural, the lake sits within one of the most densely populated corners of Pennsylvania. That makes it a popular vacation spot, and it can get quite busy on summer weekends.

A 20hp limit on outboard motors keeps boat traffic from getting too intense, but fishing pressure is still significant. The best time to fish the lake is spring, before the summer tourist season gets into full swing.

Getting to Lake Nockamixon

Lake Nockamixon is located in Bucks County, a little over an hour north of Philadelphia and about 40 minutes southeast of Allentown. PA Route 611 is a major highway that runs past the east end of the lake, while PA Route 563 takes a course roughly parallel to its northern shore.

Amenities, including bait shops, grocery stores and lodging, can be found within a few minutes drive of the lakeshore. The largest major population center is the borough of Quakertown, about 15 minutes away.

Bank & Boat Access

Completely surrounded byNockamixon State Park, Lake Nockamixon is easily accessed both by bank and by boat.

The park also includes a large marina facility with docking for over 600 boats.Nockamixon Boat Rentaloffers a variety of watercraft options for a day on the lake.

A total of five boat launch sites are available on the lake, including the marina. The Three Mile Run launch site, located near the upper end of the lake, and the Hayco*ck launch site, located on its namesake cove, are the most popular launches for anglers.

Bank fishing is an option at the sites mentioned above and at the Lake Nockamixon Fishing Pier on the north shore of the lake, west of the marina. This officialstate park mapof the lake is a handy resource for getting your bearings.

Although there are no campground facilities in Nockamixon State Park, a cluster of rental cabins is available for overnight stays. In addition, several privately owned campgrounds are within the immediate area.

Lake Nockamixon Fishing: Complete Angler's Guide (2024)
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