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October 23, 2016
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Loving the Lackwaxen; Tribute to a tributary

This is the portrait of a happy fisherman. You can tell by the grin on the author’s face.
Photo by JohnMichael Tussel

When water is released from Lake Wallenpaupack, it brings alewives and other food with it. Trout take advantage and gorge themselves to trophy proportion, creating the perfect scenario for fishing live bait, salted shiners, wobbling spoons or streamers. The river level can change rapidly during a release, though these are generally timed for non-peak use periods. (Visit or call 800/807-2474 for water release schedule information.)

Spinners are an excellent choice of lure to use on the river. Rooster Tails also produce well. These lures offer a variety of blade sizes and feather trailers that come in all colors. Yellow seems to be a really good producer, and chartreuse is an all-time favorite. Thomas Lures are made in the town of Hawley, and their spinners flash tantalizing gold and fish-colored spots that big trout find irresistible.

Those casting flies will do well with streamers and Woolly Buggers, as well as with nymph imitators, especially early in the season. In early May, the river will come alive with the emergence of multiple species of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies, giving anglers the chance to “match-the-hatch” with dry fly imitations.

If you don’t know your insects, visit one of the local fly shops located along the river for assistance. These experts can tell you what is hatching and when, and they will have on hand the imitations you will need. It’s not uncommon to see multiple hatches coming off at the same time on a given evening.

The Lackawaxen is well stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, both before and during the seasons. Anglers can expect to hook into brook trout, browns, rainbows, the golden palomino and even some cross breeds, such as tiger trout. Recent years also have seen supplemental stocking of giant trout by local businesses.

Be aware that much of this river is posted as private property, with no trespassing allowed. You would do well to visit ahead of the season to contact landowners, locate areas open to fishing and find convenient parking for running the rapids in a canoe or kayak.