Meadville Tribune

Local News

June 2, 2012

Local lake called one of best for family fishing fun

MEADVILLE — Pymatuning Lake: 17,000-plus acres of family-friendly, fish-filled northwestern Pennsylvania freshwater, attractively nestled (by some well-read accounts) right between Port Isabel in Texas and Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee.

Does that make sense? Not really?

Well, check out the May issue of Game & Fish magazine, and it will: That nationwide, all-things-outdoors publication has put Pymatuning Lake at Number 7 (right between Port Isabel and Reelfoot Lake) in its “10 Top Destinations for Family Fishing Vacations” in 2012.

“Shallow, stained, cover-laden and filled to the gills with crappie, walleyes, bass and bluegills, Pymatuning Lake beckons families because the fish stack up in obvious spots during early summer and eat quite readily,” article author, Georgia-based outdoors writer/photographer Jeff Samsel, writes in the recently-published “10 Top.”

Samsel, who couldn’t immediately be reached for additional comment, gave Pymatuning the notable designation of being among the nation’s best family fishing spots following a recent guided tour of the lake and Pymatuning State Park, according to Juanita Hampton, executive director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

That honor’s been bestowed following reports earlier this year that Pymatuning — which attracts around 3.3 million visitors a year — brings the largest economic impact of any state park in Pennsylvania, according to a study conducted by Penn State University in coordination with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

With the summer season getting into full swing, those designations are “fabulous (news) for our area,” said Hampton. “This is huge. ...The most important thing about this destination,” she added, “is that it’s family-oriented.”

And any way the lines are cast out that way, “it’s some darn good fishing,” she said.

Ask some of those most familiar with Pymatuning, and they’ll say it’s getting better all the time. Park Manager Pete Houghton, for example, said the recent Memorial Day weekend was, from his view and 36 years’ experience, “the best one ever” for fishing and overall park visitation. From then on, “everyone’s (been) getting fish — it’s phenomenal,” he said.

Joel Brown, longtime member and president of the Pymatuning Lake Association, credits that growing anglers’ success (and growing fish populations) to the ongoing work by that association’s volunteers in conjunction with Houghton and other park and state outdoors officials. From population-boosting and habitat-establishing projects to general maintenance and a host of other continuing efforts, “you put it all together, and, I’m telling you, the fishing is fantastic,” Brown said.

The Game & Fish designation is “spot-on,” said Brown.

And “as long as there’s fish in this lake,” he added, “everything else is going to take care of itself — all the hotels, businesses, restaurants ... it’s really showing” how the draw of the fish in turn positively affects the local economic climate-at-large.

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