As part of its muskellunge management plan, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is switching entirely to the stocking of yearling muskies to maintain quality fisheries. This is a departure from the stocking of fingerling-stage fish.
It’s believed the older fish will experience a much higher survival rate and will be stocked on an alternate year basis.
Locally we have several good musky waters, including portions of the Allegheny River and Lake Arthur, though incessant rainfall has precluded the river recently.
Here’s a look at each.
ALLEGHENY RIVER/POOL 6: The lower 70 miles of the river are impounded by eight navigational lock and dams systems. These low head fixed-crest dams create miniature impoundments, backwaters that exhibit characteristics of both river and reservoir.
What separates Pool 6 — the 11-mile river section between Clinton and Kittanning — from other pools is the abundance of shallow water habitat. Three islands areas found within the pool provide a wealth of structure and cover options for the caster to chuck musky baits. During the heat of summer main channel areas will attract some muskies, fish more likely to be triggered by the troller.
On the west side of the river, opposite the town of Manorville, is a complex of islands highlighted by Cogley’s Island. Muskie anglers will find an abundance of casting options in this area; concentrate on areas where the shallows quickly drop off into deeper water.
Near Rosston, one finds Ross Island. The river widens at this point; midriver humps, and flats leading off the islands are top spots, particularly during years when the weed growth is significant. Just above L&D 6 is Nicholson Island, which has numerous points and fingers that extend out to deeper water.
The cover/structure options at creek mouths also attract muskies. Within Pool 6 check out the mergers of Garrett’s Run, Crooked Creek and Glade Run.
Boat access to Pool 6 is from the municipal launch off Water Street in Kittanning, and the Fish and Boat Commission’s access at Rosston. Being impounded water, Pool 6 can handle larger boats. Pay heed to navigation buoys that mark shallow spots, though. There is no horsepower restriction.
LAKE ARTHUR: Despite intense fishing pressure for a wide variety of species, Lake Arthur continues to support an outstanding musky population. Given the fact so many anglers target the species, coupled with a liberal food supply, the fish can be hard to catch. Even by musky standards.
Lake Arthur is a 3,300-acre DCNR lake, the focal point of Butler County’s Moraine State Park. In that the lake is comprised of numerous major creek arms, with many secondary bays feeding such arms, Arthur provides a lot of shoreline. Its fertile waters support a strong population of several gamefish species in addition to muskies. Hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, crappies and channel catfish have a strong following; walleyes, yellow perch and northern pike are found in decent numbers. The lake’s ability to support such a diverse list of predators is due in part to the presence of both alewife and gizzard shad, which augment forage such as young panfish and minnow species.
During a Fish and Boat Commission survey on Arthur in 2016, 19 muskies from 23 to 51 inches were collected. Though this number was lower than in previous years, it still exceeds the barometer the agency uses as establishing a quality musky fishery.
July will find musky anglers focusing on three main areas of the lake. The three fingers found up lake of the Route 528 bridge are always a focal point of musky attention. Most folks troll, but fish are also taken by casters working weed edges.
The same is true of Bear Run Bay. This is a large arm that produces well during the summer for both trollers and casters. The main basin of the lake is subject to trolling. Most trollers use the submerged Route 422 roadbed and submerged railroad bed as general targets to troll near.
Numerous access points dot the perimeter of Lake Arthur. The 528 and “Church” launches serve the east end of the lake; the Bear Run launch, found just outside the mouth of Bear Run Bay, provides good access to that bay as well as the main lake basin. Boats are limited to 20 hp.