Fishing Near Philadelphia: 6 Great Spots Just an Hour Away
May 18, 2021 | 6 minute read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

You’re never short on places to try fishing near Philadelphia. From small streams and local ponds to one of the mightiest rivers in the country, saying that you’re spoiled for choice doesn’t quite cut it. In fact, there are so many fishing spots around Philly that it’s tough to know where to start. Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here.

A view of Philadelphia from the Schuylkill River

To get you started, we’ve put together our top picks within easy reach of town. You don’t even need to leave the city for some of them, while others offer a real outdoor escape just an hour away. Without further ado, here are six great places to fish around Philadelphia.

Pennypack Park, Philadelphia

A bridge over Pennypack Creek in Pennypack Park, one of the best spots for fishing near Philadelphia

We weren’t kidding when we said there are spots close to home. Pennypack Park winds its way along the creek of the same name. It’s an ideal spot to take the family for a stroll through the woods or enjoy a picnic on a sunny day. With plenty of paved and unpaved trails to lose yourself on, it really doesn’t feel like you’re still in the city.

Pennypack Creek is also an ideal place to teach the little ones how to fish. It’s home to a variety of Panfish, from Green and Redbreast Sunfish to Bluegill, Rock Bass, and more. You can also find Smallmouth Bass here for more of a challenge.

And that’s just the permanent residents. In Spring, the creek gets stocked with Brown and Rainbow Trout, making for a ton of fun and a delicious meal to boot. Just head out, bag some fish, and fire up the grill – talk about a perfect day out.

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, Tinicum Island

Tidal marsh water in John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, near Philadelphia

Another awesome spot just a stone’s throw from downtown Philly. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a large area of well-preserved lagoons and tidal marshes. Despite being right on the city’s doorstep, John Heinz feels truly wild and is home to everything from deer and beaver to turtles and even bald eagles. And of course, there are plenty of fish here, too.

Some of the main catches in John Heinz Refuge are Catfish, Panfish, and Largemouth Bass, but you can can also find stranger species like Eels. During the spring and summer, there’s the added chance of White and Striped Bass stopping in on their way up the Delaware River.

Feel like catching fish while also helping the environment? Take on invasive fish species like Carp and Snakehead. Carp get pretty big in these murky, tidal waters, and Snakehead punch well above their weight. And the best part is that you don’t even need your own rod. When the visitor’s center is open, they lend out tackle free of charge.

Schuylkill River, Reading

A rower on Schuylkill River, a great spot for fishing near Philadelphia

You can fish the Schuylkill River right in downtown Philly if you want to, but it’s well worth heading upstream. Take a drive toward Reading to find some of the prettiest and most scenic stretches of the “hidden river.” All the way from Reading to Pottstown is lovely, and it’s home to some real trophies.

The Schuylkill River is best-known for its Smallmouth Bass. Smallies measuring 18 inches or more are a real possibility, with dozens of smaller hookups on a good day. There’s more than Bass here, though. Walleye and even Muskie show up sometimes, along with big Flathead Catfish and a variety of Panfish.

The fish themselves are only half the fun. The thing that makes the Schuylkill so special is how well set-up it is for exploring. You can cast a line from hundreds of spots along its banks. Feeling more adventurous? Jump in a kayak and paddle your way downstream on the Schuylkill River Water Trail

Nockamixon State Park, Quakertown

A view across Lake Nockamixon near Quakertown, PA

Nockamixon State Park is a great destination for all kinds of activities, both on the water and off it. From hiking and hunting to sailing, swimming, and of course, fishing, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Rent a cabin and stay the night or just make a day of it – the park’s an easy hour’s drive from Philly.

Lake Nockamixon is an official “Big Bass Lake” and it more than lives up to the name. You can find big Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass here, as well as Hybrid Striped Bass, and even Muskie and Walleye. 

The main problem with the Lake Nock is its size. You need a boat or at least a kayak to reach the best fishing grounds. Luckily, you can rent both at the lake. There’s also a fishing pier of sorts on the north side that lets you get to deeper water.

Havre de Grace, MD

A wooden waterfront walkway in Havre de Grace, MD, with an old brick building in the distance

So far, we’ve focused entirely on Pennsylvania’s own waters. However, the Upper Chesapeake Bay is just over an hour away and offers a real change of scene. Spend some time hiking around Susquehanna State Park, head to a local winery, or take in the bay from the waterfront. Or, you know, just go fishing all day!

There are several fishing piers on and around the mouth of the Susquehanna River, as well as multiple boat ramps and even a marina. There’s a big reason for this: Striped Bass. Huge numbers of “Rockfish” make their way into the Susquehanna here. Unsurprisingly, they draw more than a few anglers along the way.

So it’s all about the Rockfish? Not at all! These waters hold decent catches of Speckled Trout, Drum, Croaker, Flounder, and so much more. You can also head upriver for Largemouth Bass and Catfish. But let’s be honest, if you’re heading to the Chesapeake Bay you’re probably after Stripers.

Atlantic City, NJ

A view of Atlantic City, NJ from the sea, with waves crashing onto the beach and buildings in the distance

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the ocean. In fact, we saved the best for last. Nothing beats a day at the beach, soaking up the sun and relaxing in the sea. And at just an hour’s drive in good traffic, it’s easy to see why Atlantic Beach is such a popular destination from Philly.

Another obvious advantage of heading to the seaside is the wealth of fish you can catch here. Sadly, the local fishing pier is currently closed for renovations, but you can still cast from the beach for Flounder, Mackerel, Striped Bass, and Bluefish. And that’s just the shore fishing bite.

Jump on a fishing charter and a whole world of opportunity opens up. Stay inshore for big Stripers, Bluefish, Fluke, Tautog, Seabass, Drum, and more. Head farther out and everything from Mahi Mahi and Kingfish to huge Sharks, Tuna, and even Marlin become a real possibility. Talk about an unforgettable fishing trip!

And So Many More!

A view across the Delaware River to Philadelphia at sunset

These are a few of our top picks, but there are plenty more places to fish near Philadelphia. Battle White and Striped Bass right in town on Pier 68. Take a trip out west to the legendary Susquehanna River. There are also endless lakes and more creeks than you can shake a crankbait at. You’re not short on spots, so grab your rod or find a charter near you and start fishing them!

What’s your favorite place to fish near Philadelphia? Have you tried any of these spots before? Let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear your experiences!

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