Dutch Fork Lake ice fishing

Fishing Dutch Fork Lake in Pennsylvania

Dutch Fork Lake is a 91-acre lake located in Western Pennsylvania. Fed by Dutch Fork Creek, the lake is located near the town of Claysville. Dutch Fork is owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. It is managed for fishing and boating.

The dam was damaged by flooding in 2004. The lake was subsequently drained. In 2013 the dam was repaired and the lake was refilled. After a bit of time and stocking the lake has again become a viable fishery.

bluegill from dutch fork lakeI caught this bluegill on a Pelkie Jig

Dutch Fork Lake is located in a rural setting yet it is just off an interstate highway. The lake is surrounded by several towns and it is easily reached from a few nearby cities. Still it doesn’t get a ton of fishing pressure.

This is a somewhat turbid lake that receives silt and sediment from the stream. Since it has been refilled there are some deeper sections. Though I imagine that the lake will get shallower with time. The stream is prone to flooding and it can carry a lot of debris when the water rises.

Fish species in Dutch Fork Lake

Dutch Fork Lake is home to numerous species. Largemouth bass, black crappie, white crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, yellow bullhead, white sucker, northern hogsucker, and common carp can be found in the lake. The Fish Commission also stocks rainbow trout, brown trout and channel catfish here. They are joined by diminutive fish like creek chubs and the occasional golden shiner.

Largemouth bass, carp, white suckers and yellow bullhead seem to do best here. There isn’t a huge number of bass in the lake. Though the largemouth you do find tend to have decent size to them. n average largemouth at Dutch Fork is about 12 inches, but there are some real chunky fish around. Carp and white suckers predominate and outnumber all the other fish species, though they don’t grow to huge sizes. Or at least they haven’t yet.

crappie from Dutch ForkAn average Dutch Fork Lake crappie

Yellow bullhead grow up to a foot long here, which is a good size for the species. With lots of shallow sections, colored water, a soft substrate, and lots of flooded timber, the lake is good bullhead habitat. There aren’t many people who fish for bullhead specifically, but they can be fun to catch. They taste good too.

There are fair numbers of crappie in Dutch Fork Lake. Smaller fish predominate but a decent amount are larger than 9″. Bluegill tend to be less common and even smaller here. They are present in the lake, but they rarely reach even six inches in length.

Rainbow trout are the main focus of most people who fish Dutch Fork Lake. The PA Fish and Boat Commission stocks the lake with trout four times per year. There are three plantings in the spring and one in the fall. Golden rainbow trout are planted along with the first stocking. Brown trout are stocked into Dutch Fork Creek. They sometimes make their way down into the lake too.

Fishing in Dutch Fork Lake

I’ve fished Dutch Fork Lake a few times over the years. It is a decent place to catch bass, crappie, trout and smaller carp. In the spring, the lake can get some angling pressure. There is a fair amount of bank access, but much of the lake is surrounded by woods.

I do best here when ice fishing. When the ice thickens enough the entire lake opens up to angling. It is easy to access some of the better sections on the hard water. Unfortunately, it does not always get cold enough to form safe ice on Dutch Fork Lake.

I’ve caught more crappie here than anything. There are plenty of them in the lake. Good sized fish can be found, but you sometimes have to work for them. It is easier to get into large schools of smaller fish in the 5 to 7 inch range.

yellow bullhead ice fishingA nice yellow bullhead

When it comes to bass fishing Dutch Fork Lake in open water, I like to throw an Original Floating Rapala or Rat-L-Trap. They work well in the off colored water.

When ice fishing I usually aim for crappie. I’ve caught a lot of crappie around the stumps using Slender Spoons and Pelkie Jigs tipped with maggots. Setting tip ups rigged with live minnows usually catches a mix of bullheads and rainbow trout.

There are a lot of carp and suckers here. They are easy enough to catch on nightcrawlers and corn. Sometimes a bullhead or channel cat will take the bait too. I haven’t spent a ton of time on these species in Dutch Fork Lake, but I can confirm their presence. Unfortunately I haven’t hooked any large specimens.

I haven’t tried fly fishing in Dutch Fork either. I have fly fished the stream but not the lake. If I was going to fly fish Dutch Fork I would probably throw a streamer like a big black woolly bugger on floating line. I might also try some top water hair bugs for bass in the summer months.

Dutch Fork Lake fishing regulations

Dutch Fork Lake is classified a “Stocked Trout Water” by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. That means this lake is closed to fishing from late February until opening day for trout in April.

Anglers are permitted to keep five trout over seven inches during regular trout season. The limit is lowered to three trout during the extended season later in the year. This is a put and take fishery. Trout cannot survive the summers in this lake.

Otherwise Dutch Fork Lake falls under general inland fishing regulations for Pennsylvania. You can fish with up to three rods, with no limit on the number of hooks per rod. Fishing can be done with traditional angling methods using bait, lures, and flies.

Only electric powered and unpowered boats can be used at Dutch Fork Lake. There is one boat launch attached to the main parking lot. The lake is open to ice fishing. Ice thickness is not monitored, so be sure to check the ice before venturing out out.

To the best of my knowledge, this is accurate as of the time of writing. Of course regulations are subject to change. For current regulations be sure to check the Pennsylvania Fish Commission website.

Dutch Fork Lake fishing at a glance

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