On the Water

Area Overview

A monster Susquehanna River Carp

With four seasons of natural beauty and endless outdoor adventures, we invite you to explore Columbia and Montour counties from the water. The north branch of the mighty Susquehanna River flows directly through both counties, and provides one of the best outlets for outdoor recreation in all of central Pennsylvania.

The river, creeks and lakes are home to trout, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Channel and Bullhead Catfish, Bluegill, Yellow Perch, Walleye, Carp, Pan Fish, Crappie and Tiger Muskellunge. Other wildlife is abundant – don’t be surprised if you take a paddle break and see a bald eagle soaring overhead!

Fishing Creek runs through Columbia County and is considered to be one of the finest trout streams in the state. There are many other creeks and streams for fishing and kayaking that are found throughout the two counties, including: Beaver Run, Briar Creek, Hemlock Creek, Huntingdon Creek, Little Fishing Creek, Mugser Run, Pine Creek, Roaring Creek, Scotch Run, West Creek, Mahoning Creek, and Mauses Creek.

Lake Chillisquaque, named for a Native American word meaning “song of the wild goose,” is a 165-acre reservoir built on the middle branch of Chillisquaque Creek. Constructed in 1972 by PPL Electric Utilities, it serves as a backup cooling water supply for the Montour power plant. The lake is located within the Montour Preserve, and is a prime fishing and boating location.

The Weiser State Forest – Roaring Creek Tract is located between Elysburg and Mount Carmel and also contains several reservoirs. Non-motorized boats are permitted on two of the three reservoirs on the Roaring Creek Tract – the 184-acre McWilliams’ Reservoir and the 31-acre Kline’s Reservoir. Warm water fishing is allowed in all three locations. Ice fishing is becoming a popular winter activity in the Tract as well. All fishing within the boundaries of the Weiser State Forest – Roaring Creek Tract is catch-and-release only and requires the proper PA fishing license.

Ricketts Glen State Park is located 30 miles north of Bloomsburg. The State Park contains Lake Jean, a 245-acre lake that has a 600-foot beach open from late May to mid-September for swimming and relaxing. Fishing is permitted and boat rentals are available. All PA Fish & Boat rules and regulations apply.

Kocher Park can be found just outside Lightstreet, directly north of Bloomsburg off I-80 Exit 236. The public park was established on donated land along Fishing Creek in 2000, and is a wheelchair-accessible nature park. It offers over seven acres of stream-side property that are ideal for bird-watching, fishing, walking, swimming, kayaking, or canoeing.

Test Track Riverfront Park in Berwick was once used as an obstacle course to test military tanks produced by the Berwick American Car and Foundry plant during WWII. The park is located along the Susquehanna River and provides access to trails, fishing, and a boat launch. Every year in June, the Berwick Area Regatta takes place from Test Track Riverfront Park. The event draws a large crowd, and spectators can enjoy speedboat races and waterfront fun on the Susquehanna. In October, Riverfest lights up the park with fun, food and fireworks.

Briar Creek Lake Park near Berwick is a 53-acre lake that was built in the 1970s for flood control. The lake is available for year-round fishing and boating. The PPL Susquehanna Riverlands is located five miles north of Berwick on Route 11 and covers approximately 2,100 acres of land. There are fishing and boating opportunities at Lake Took-A-While.

To get free information mailed right to your door, request our Outdoor Recreation guide!

Check out these links for further reading:
Ice Fishing PDF
FCSA Access Points PDF

Ask the Expert: Best Fishing Spots in the Area

John “Toast” Oast with a Musky on the Susquehanna

John “Toast” Oast is a professional kayak angler and host of the popular Fishyaker YouTube channel. His channel has received over 3 million video views, and John regularly posts videos with fishing tips, highlights, conditions, gear reviews, and more.  A resident of Bloomsburg, Oast’s kayak fishing exploits have been featured in various regional and national publications, videos, and television shows, and he travels extensively competing in kayak fishing tournaments and promoting the sport.

Toast’s Top 5 Spots in Columbia and Montour Counties:

#1:  Kayak or canoe fishing float from Bloomsburg to Danville on the Susquehanna River

For those interested in a beautiful, scenic downstream float or fishing trip, launch at the Bloomsburg Airport PFBC access and take out at the Danville PFBC access.  This is a longer trip, so it is best accomplished in a full day during the longer summer months.  This stretch is great for anyone, from the novice to the advanced paddler.  This float is best by paddlecraft, as during summer and lower-water periods, there may be extremely shallow areas and submerged boulders and ledges.  Anglers on this stretch may catch smallmouth bass, muskellunge, walleye, catfish, and northern pike.

Fisherman on the Susquehanna

#2:   Downstream of the I-80 Bridge on the Susquehanna River

This stretch, for approximately one mile downstream of the I80 bridge in Columbia County, is accessible by most any watercraft, from multiple access points, and partially by shore anglers.  It combines shallow elevation changes with moving water, as well as deeper areas.  Anglers on this stretch may catch smallmouth bass, muskellunge, walleye, catfish, and northern pike.

#3:  Fishing Creek

Fishing Creek is one of the Pennsylvania’s legendary fishing destinations for avid trout anglers.  There are numerous public and private fishing areas along the creek, from I-80 northward.

At Weiser State Forest – Roaring Creek Tract

#4:  Weiser State Forest, Roaring Creek Tract

This often overlooked chain of three lake reservoirs and connecting creek are great locations for anglers and owners of canoes and kayaks.  Special regulations exist for each of these bodies of water, so check with current posted and online regulations. Anglers may catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, pickerel, catfish, and panfish.

#5:  Bloomsburg Town Park

Looking for a great place to take the family for a picnic or to introduce a child to fishing?  Bloomsburg Town Park has both access to the Susquehanna River and the park’s small lake impoundment.  Anglers and paddlers may fish from the river’s shore or launch small watercraft, or fish from the shore at the relaxing environment of the park lake.  Anglers along the river may catch smallmouth bass, muskellunge, walleye, catfish, and northern pike.  Anglers in the lake may catch largemouth bass, catfish, panfish, and carp.

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Experience History and Adventure on the Susquehanna River

With the longest river on the East coast flowing directly through Columbia & Montour counties, the aquatic activities in our area are endless. Named the 2016 River of the Year, the Susquehanna River is unquestionably one of the region’s premier outdoor recreation hotspots. On any given day, people can be spotted kayaking, canoeing, fishing, tubing, boating, swimming, observing wildlife, or just lazily enjoying the day from the river bank.

Visitors to Columbia and Montour counties have the perfect opportunity to experience nature from the water. For those seeking the perfect day or weekend trip on the Susquehanna, look no further than one of two local river outfitters: Canoe Susquehanna on the West Branch or Susquehanna Outdoor Adventures on the North Branch. Both organizations offer guided tours and rental services.

The unique flow and shallow depth of the Susquehanna River make commercial navigation impractical. However, these same conditions make it the ideal waterway to explore with canoes, kayaks, small boats, rafts, or inner tubes. There are eight primitive and surfaced ramps that serve as river access points throughout the two counties.

Traveling at a relaxing pace enables visitors to slow down and escape from the fast pace of their everyday lives. It also provides them with time to absorb what they are seeing and learning as they meander down the river. The river towns that hug the Susquehanna’s banks are each shaped by the river in their own way, and in turn serve to enhance visitors’ experiences as they explore, shop, and enjoy quaint downtowns. We hope you will join us in enjoying an adventure on our beloved Susquehanna River.

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