As fall progresses, some of the best fishing on the free-flowing portion of the Allegheny River takes place.
This seasonal transition of fish location corresponds with one of fishing attention as well. Anglers pursuing walleyes, and muskies also to an extent, suddenly make an appearance. They ply these deeper holes, often referred to in local terms as “eddies” or “pools,” seeking the fish that stack up there. The river section from Tionesta up to the Trunkeyville area contains three such spots.
Flowing past the town of the same name, the Tionesta Pool is a well-known late-fall walleye hotspot. Attaining its depth largely from dredging, though it’s been decades since such activity took place there, it provides a wealth or ledges and pockets that provide ’eyes with sanctuary from the river’s current. In general, the shallower zones of this pool are found along the western side of the river, particularly within its northern half.
A good boat launch is in the town of Tionesta. Heading north, turn left off Route 36 on to Highland Street. The intersection is at the Midtown Motel. Bank fishing opportunities exist along the shore south of the boat ramp, along Lighthouse Island.
Prop boats can be used within the Tionesta Pool, though at normal levels are not appropriate for navigating river stretches above or below it. On the downriver end of the pool, things begin to shallow quickly below the mouth of Tionesta Creek. On the upriver side, the river shallows up as you approach the heavy riffle that feeds the Tionesta Pool, upriver of the Route 36 Bridge.
The second walleye hole of note is found just downriver of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s West Hickory access area. This launch is on the east side of the river, across from the town of West Hickory. The ramp and paved parking lot is found just south (downriver) of the Route 127 Bridge. Traveling north on Route 62, the turnoff (left turn) into the access area appears just as you’re approaching the Penn DOT facility.
Unlike the Tionesta Pool, accessing the West Hickory Eddy requires a jet boat, unless the river level is elevated. The eddy is found downriver of the ramp with the best walleye-holding water being on the east side of the river, right along Route 62. The eddy ends at the rock bar washed into the river at the mouth of Little Hickory Creek.
The West Hickory Eddy isn’t overly deep, only around 10 to 12 feet generally, but it seems to attract good numbers of walleyes, including big ones. One of the biggest river walleyes to ever hit my boat — 11.5 pounds — came from this pool during a late-November day.
The final major eddy along this stretch is found at Trunkeyville, a couple miles upriver of the West Hickory access area. Trunkeyville, largely a collection of camps, sits on the west side of the river. I keep to the west side of the river, to the right of a cluster of islands, when navigating from West Hickory up to the Trunkeyville Eddy. The eddy starts once you get past Hemlock Island.
Walleye-holding pockets exist on both the east and west sides of the Trunkeyville Eddy. The productivity of each individual one varies, and this applies to all three holes mentioned here, varies depending on river level. In other words, certain spots fish better during certain flows. The key is to find quiet pockets just out of the main flow of the river. These pockets are often formed by irregularities along the shoreline, soft current below islands, gravel bars washed out into the river. Bottom irregularities, a prime example being ledges formed within the Tionesta Pool from dredging, can also hold fish.