The Northeast’s Native Muskies
Every year, scores of 50-plus-inch fish are caught and released in the Allegheny, some pushing 40 pounds. This is where my muskie obsession began.
The Middle Allegheny River begins at the outflow of the Kinzua Dam close to the town of Warren, Pennsylvania. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, with 37 miles of the river falling within the boundaries of the Allegheny National Forest.
In the warmer months, shore-fishing is not out of the question. There is public access just below the dam on both banks and a quick scan on Google Maps will reveal several spots to wet-wade or fish from the bank.
In addition to the trophy muskie fishery, the Middle Allegheny offers world-class fishing for pike, walleye, smallmouth bass, plus brown and rainbow trout, all of which have been known to attack muskie baits.
When to Go:
Spring and summer are the most consistent, productive and comfortable times to fish the Middle Allegheny. The warmer months are best for shore-fishing and wet-wading. If you’re after a trophy, it’s hard to beat November and December. The Middle Allegheny never freezes due to the outflow from the dam, so mild winters can see fishing go into January or possibly right through to spring.
What to Throw:
Anglers rely on jerkbaits, also known as gliders, to fish the Middle Allegheny throughout much of the year. A 7½-inch Phantom soft-tail is a staple, and natural patterns like walleye and sucker mimic the river’s forage and are always productive.
The Lower Allegheny River, Pennsylvania
As the Allegheny prepares to join the Monongahela and create the mighty Ohio River in Pittsburgh, the river deepens, widens and becomes much more accessible. This part of the Allegheny is entirely different from the shallow, often turbid waters of its upper reaches. Huge navigation pools hold some of the largest fish in the system, and it’s often easy to find out exactly where they are.
Mark Nicholas of Big PA Musky Guide Service has built his business with his vast knowledge of the Lower Allegheny. For most of the year, he focuses entirely on the Allegheny’s navigation pools, the upper ones in particular. Nicholas notes that many of the muskies living in these pools don’t migrate to other stretches of the river. They have a contained ecosystem with food and shelter from the current, so there’s no need to be on the move. Because of this, focusing on these navigation pools will ensure you’re putting your bait in front of fish.