Big Bass Program Special Regulations

These regulations are specific to Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted bass in the designated waters listed below:

  • Closure Period: Stocked trout waters (lakes) within the Big Bass Program are closed to all fishing from February 20 until the opening day of the trout season. Please note that this closure does not apply to stocked trout waters (lakes) open for year-round fishing.

Lakes Special Regulations

For lakes in Pennsylvania, the following special regulations apply:

  • Season: Fishing is permitted from January 1 through April 7 and June 10 through December 31.

  • Minimum Size: Bass must measure at least 15 inches in length.

  • Daily Limit: Anglers are allowed to harvest up to 4 bass per day, combined species, during the specified seasons.

  • April 8 through June 9: During this period, a "NO HARVEST" policy is in effect, meaning catch and immediate release only. No tournaments are permitted during this time.

Waters Governed by These Regulations

In various counties across Pennsylvania, the following waters are subject to the regulations outlined:

Allegheny County:

  • Upper, Middle, and Lower Deer Lakes (Closed to fishing from February 20 until 8 a.m. on the opening day of trout)
  • Marshall Lake
  • North Park Lake

Armstrong County:

  • Keystone Lake

Beaver County:

  • Bradys Run Lake

Berks County:

  • Blue Marsh Lake
  • Carsonia Lake
  • Hopewell Lake
  • Kaercher Creek Dam

Bedford County:

  • Shawnee Lake (State Park)

Blair County:

  • Canoe Creek Lake (State Park) to include two small ponds and raceway adjacent to Canoe Lake

Bucks County:

  • Lake Towhee
  • Nockamixon Lake (State Park)

Butler County:

  • Lake Arthur (Moraine State Park)

Cambria County:

  • Beaverdam Run Reservoir
  • Duman Lake
  • Hinckston Run Reservoir
  • Wilmore Dam

Carbon County:

  • Mauch Chunk Lake

Centre County:

  • Colyer Lake

Chester County:

  • Chambers Lake
  • Marsh Creek Lake (State Park)

Clarion/Venango Counties:

  • Kahle Lake

Crawford County:

  • Sugar Lake

Cumberland County:

  • Opossum Lake

Fayette County:

  • Indian Creek Reservoir (Mill Run Reservoir)
  • Bridgeport Reservoir (shared with Westmoreland County)

Indiana County:

  • Yellow Creek Lake (State Park)

Lackawanna County:

  • Lackawanna Lake (State Park)

Lancaster County:

  • Speedwell Forge Lake

Lehigh County:

  • Leaser Lake

Luzerne County:

  • Frances Slocum Lake (State Park)
  • Harris Pond
  • Lily Lake

Lycoming County:

  • Rose Valley Lake

Mercer County:

  • Shenango River Lake

Monroe/Wayne Counties:

  • Gouldsboro Lake

Montour County:

  • Lake Chillisquaque

Perry County:

  • Little Buffalo Lake (Holman Lake)

Somerset County:

  • Quemahoning Reservoir

Tioga County:

  • Lake Nessmuk

Venango County:

  • Two Mile Run Reservoir (Justus Lake)

Washington County:

  • Cross Creek Lake
  • Peters Twp. Lake (Res. #2)

Wayne County:

  • Lower Woods Pond (partial drawdown)

Westmoreland County:

  • Indian Lake
  • Keystone Lake (State Park)
  • Twin Lakes Number One Reservoir (lower)
  • Mammoth Dam
  • Northmoreland Lake
  • Twin Lake Number Two Reservoir (upper)

Wyoming County:

  • Stevens Lake

York County:

  • Lake Marburg (Codorus State Park)
  • Lake Redman
  • Lake Williams
  • Pinchot Lake (State Park)

Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass – Catch and Release

Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, Lancaster, Northumberland, Perry Counties:

  • Waters: Susquehanna River (98.0 miles) from the inflatable dam near Sunbury downstream to Holtwood Dam, including all tributaries to a point ½ mile upstream from the confluence.
  • Season/Special Regulations:
    • January 1 to December 31: NO HARVEST CATCH AND IMMEDIATE RELEASE ONLY. It is unlawful for an angler to cast repeatedly into a clearly visible bass spawning nest or redd in an effort to catch or take bass as with Commonwealth Inland Waters fishing regulations.
    • From January 1 to April 7 and June 10 to December 31: Catch-measure-immediate release tournaments permitted (see for tournament requirement details).
    • From April 8 to June 9: No tournaments permitted.

Dauphin, Juniata, Perry Counties:

  • Waters: Juniata River (31.7 miles) from SR0075 bridge at Port Royal downstream to the mouth, including all tributaries to a point ½ mile upstream from the confluence.

Brood Stock Lakes Program

These regulations aim to restrict harvest and fish consumption from designated lakes during the FDA-mandated withdrawal period, during which fish anesthetics are used during Muskellunge, Tiger Muskellunge (hybrids), Northern Pike, and pickerel culture operations. From April 1 through May 31, fishing for these species is permitted on a catch and release/no harvest basis. It is unlawful to take or possess any Muskellunge, Tiger Muskellunge (hybrids), Northern Pike, and pickerel from these lakes during this period. When caught, these fish species shall be immediately returned unharmed.

County: Crawford

  • Water Area:
    • Conneaut Lake
    • Lake Canadohta
    • Woodcock Creek Lake

County: Erie

  • Water Area:
    • Edinboro Lake
    • Howard Eaton Reservoir

County: Mercer

  • Water Area:
    • Lake Wilhelm

Catch and Release Lakes

These lakes are regulated year-round as catch and release for all fish species. This means fishing is permitted on a catch and release/no harvest basis. It is unlawful to take, kill, or possess any fish from these lakes. Once caught, all fish shall be immediately returned unharmed.

Additional catch and release regulations specifically for trout can be found on page 24. These include: Catch and Release Artificial Lures Only, Catch and Release All Tackle, and Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only.

How to Release Fish: Catch and Release

Some waters are managed strictly as “Catch and Release” waters. Minimum size limits require that fish less than the minimum must be released. Creel limits require that fish caught in excess of the limit must be released. Closed seasons require the release of fish species caught during a season when keeping them is not permitted. The number of fish that survive depends on several factors, including the length of the fight, where the fish is hooked, water temperature, and how the fish is handled and released.

To give fish released the best chance for survival, follow these recommended guidelines:

  • Use barbless hooks: Barbless hooks make it easier to release fish without causing injury.

  • Play fish quickly: Try to land your fish as quickly as possible, and don’t play the fish to exhaustion to reduce stress.

  • Use a landing net: A landing net helps safely handle the fish without damaging its delicate skin or scales.

  • Keep the fish in the water: Minimize the time the fish spends out of the water to reduce stress and increase survival chances.

  • Wet your hands, your net, and other materials: Moisture helps protect the fish’s slime coat, which is essential for its health.

  • Hold the fish upside down while removing the hook: This can often pacify the fish and reduce handling time.

  • Remove hooks quickly: Use tools like hemostats or long-nose pliers to remove hooks swiftly and minimize injury.

  • Cut the line: If you can’t remove the hook without harming the fish, cut the line to release it quickly.

  • Don’t touch the gills: Avoid handling fish by placing your fingers in the gill slits, as this can cause injury.

  • Hold the fish upright underwater after hook removal: Allow it to swim away under its own power. If necessary, hold the fish out of the current until it revives.

Panfish Enhancement Special Regulations

These regulations aim to increase the number, quality, and size of panfish through minimum length limits on sunfish, crappies, and Yellow Perch. For all other species, Commonwealth inland waters seasons, sizes, and creel limits apply, unless specified otherwise in other special regulation programs. Fishing in the Panfish Enhancement Special Regulations waters listed below is only allowed in compliance with the following size and creel limits:


  • Blue Marsh Reservoir

    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
    • Daily Limit: 20

    When Panfish Enhancement Regulations apply to more than one species in the same waterway, the creel limit is 20 for each species with the total creel not to exceed 50 panfish combined.

    • “Sunfish” includes Bluegills, Pumpkinseeds, and Redear Sunfish.
    • “Crappie” includes both Black Crappies and White Crappies.


  • Beaverdam Run Reservoir

    • Species: Yellow Perch
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
  • Hinckston Run Reservoir

    • Species: Sunfish
    • Minimum Size: 7 inches
    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
  • Wilmore Dam

    • Species: Sunfish
    • Minimum Size: 7 inches
    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
    • Species: Yellow Perch
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches


  • Colyer Lake

    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
    • Species: Sunfish
    • Minimum Size: 7 inches
    • Species: Yellow Perch
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches

    See Misc. Special Regulations for Crappies at Foster Joseph Sayers Lake.


  • Chambers Lake
    • Species: Sunfish
    • Minimum Size: 7 inches
    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches
    • Species: Yellow Perch
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches


  • Pymatuning Reservoir (State Park)
    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches


  • Opossum Lake
    • Species: Crappie
    • Minimum Size: 9 inches

Reptiles and Amphibians - Seasons and Limits

The regulations regarding seasons and limits for reptiles and amphibians are designed to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of these species. Here are the guidelines:

Species, Seasons, and Limits

  • American Bullfrog

    • Season: July 1 through October 31
    • Daily Limit: 10 (combined species)
    • Possession Limit: 20 (combined species)
  • Green Frog

    • Season: July 1 through October 31
    • Daily Limit: 10 (combined species)
    • Possession Limit: 20 (combined species)
  • Snapping Turtle

    • Season: July 1 through October 31
    • Daily Limit: 15
    • Possession Limit: 30
  • Amphibian Eggs and Tadpoles

    • No closed season
    • Daily Limit: 15 (combined species)
    • Possession Limit: 15 (combined species)
  • Timber Rattlesnake*

    • Season: June 10 through July 31
    • Annual Limit: 1 (must meet specific size criteria)
  • Eastern Copperhead

    • Season: June 10 through July 31
    • Annual Limit: 1
  • It is unlawful to hunt, take, catch, or kill Timber Rattlesnakes west of Route 15 and south of Interstate 81 to the Maryland line where there is no open season.

Endangered and Threatened Species

Several native reptile and amphibian species are identified as endangered, threatened, or have no open season to prevent their extirpation. The daily limit for these species is 0 (zero), and possession limit is 0 (zero). Some of these species include:

  • Eastern Mud Salamander
  • Green Salamander
  • Bog Turtle
  • Eastern Massasauga

Catch and Release

The practice of catch and release of amphibians and reptiles is encouraged to ensure their conservation and well-being.

Additional Restrictions for All Reptiles and Amphibians

To ensure the responsible management and conservation of reptiles and amphibians, the following additional restrictions apply:

  • License Requirement: A valid fishing license is required to catch or take reptiles and amphibians in the Commonwealth's lands and waters.

  • Methods of Taking: Unless specified otherwise, reptiles and amphibians may only be taken by hand, hook, snake tongs, turtle hooks, traps, and nets less than four feet square or four feet in diameter. It is prohibited to use firearms, chemicals, explosives, winches, jacks, or other devices for taking them.

  • Nesting and Eggs: It is illegal to damage or disrupt the nest or eggs of a reptile or to gather, take, or possess reptile eggs in their natural environment. Habitat alteration or destruction for the purpose of pursuing reptiles or amphibians is also unlawful.

  • Commercial Activities: It is prohibited to take, catch, kill, or possess reptiles and amphibians for sale, trade, import, or export within or from the Commonwealth, including all life stages and eggs.

  • Transport and Import: Transporting or importing native species from other jurisdictions into the Commonwealth is unlawful. This includes receiving native species transported or imported into the Commonwealth from other jurisdictions.

  • Protected Areas: Taking, catching, and possessing amphibians and reptiles in designated Department of Conservation and Natural Resources natural areas is prohibited as indicated by posters.

Specific Regulations for Frogs and Turtles

  • Frogs:

    • The use of artificial light for frog hunting at night is illegal.
    • Frogs may be taken with long bow and arrow, including compound bows, crossbows, spears, or gigs. Spears or gigs used for frogging must adhere to specific regulations.
  • Turtles:

    • Set-lines, traps, or other devices for catching turtles must include proper identification tags.
    • Traps, nets, or devices for catching turtles must be designed to allow for the release of unintended catches.
    • Specific requirements apply to hooks used for turtle fishing.

Permit Requirements

  • Timber Rattlesnakes and Eastern Copperhead Snakes:

    • A permit is required for hunting, taking, catching, killing, or possessing Timber Rattlesnakes and Eastern Copperhead Snakes.
    • Venomous Snake Permit holders must submit catch reports, regardless of whether they hunted or harvested.
  • Snapping Turtles:

    • A permit is required for hunting, taking, catching, or killing Snapping Turtles for sale, barter, or trade purposes.
  • Permit Fees:

    • Residents and non-residents have different permit fees for venomous snakes and Snapping Turtles.
    • Permit fees include agent and transaction fees.
Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.