Fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities around, and there are plenty of top spots to go fishing in Philadelphia. With minimal gear that can even be borrowed at no charge from some of the spots named here, just about anyone can get in on the fun. Easily adapted for all ages, abilities and skill levels, fishing is fun to enjoy with the entire family. Whether you’re an avid angler out to catch a mess of panfish for dinner or you’re baiting up for the first time, these Philly area fishing spots are the best.

French Creek State Park
843 Park Road
Elverson, PA 19520
(610) 582-9680
www.dcnr.state.pa.us

Of the 88 species of fish found in the French Creek Watershed, many are panfish and the prized game fish that, if you’re lucky enough to catch enough to catch them, make for some mighty tasty dinners. This Berks County park holds picturesque views and year-round camping that comes complete with warm showers to look forward to after a day of fishing. With more than 7,730 acres of wildlife to explore, there is plenty to do with fishing topping the list. Especially in the winter when the ice is thick enough for ice fishing.

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John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
8601 Lindbergh Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19153
(215) 365-3118
www.heinz.fws.gov

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, near the Philadelphia International Airport, was established in 1972 to preserve, restore and develop the Tinicum Marsh. The 200 acres of fresh-water tidal marsh is the last remaining in the state. The surrounding 1,200 acres of woodlands and meadows are home to more than 300 bird species and an abundance of other local wildlife, including fish. Recreational fishing is permitted throughout the refuge along Darby Creek from the bank, as well as from a canoe, but only in designated areas. Carp, catfish, panfish, tiger musky and striped bass thrive in these waters, and in the lagoons on the west side of Route 420. In addition to posted refuge-specific rules, state fishing and crabbing regulations apply.

Marsh Creek State Park
675 Park Rd.
Downingtown, Pa. 19335
610-458-5119
www.dcnr.state.pa.us

Marsh Creek Lake spans 535 acres and is a haven for migrating waterfowl. Nestled in the 1,727 acres of Marsh Creek State park in the rolling hills of north central Chester County, Marsh Creek Lake is host to a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, channel catfish, tiger muskies, black crappie and an assortment of panfish. PA Fish and Boat Commission laws apply, as do the regulations for big bass lakes. Fishing on the lake can be enjoyed from the banks, from a boat, or from the ice when the lake’s waters are frozen over.Other activities in this park include hiking, swimming, sailing, hunting, ice skating, sledding and cross-country skiing.

Pennypack Park
8500 Pine Road
Philadelphia, PA 19111
(215) 685-0470
www.facebook.com/Pennypack-Park

More than 1,300 rolling acres with nine miles of creek access along the Pennypack Creek make Pennypack Park a popular destination for picnicking, hiking, biking, riding and fishing. Rippling, shallow waters rippling along the creek entice waders of all ages to explore. Chase some tadpoles and minnows while avoiding the claws of little crayfish that skirt backwards to dodge wriggling toes and inquisitive hands. Fishing is permitted along the creek banks, while some cast their lines into some of the deeper pools in hopes of catching a rock bass. Many enjoy fishing just above the little dam, where the waters run more still and deep. This is perfect for the panfish hiding just below the surface. Fishing in Pennypack Park is permitted under the rules outlined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

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Ridley Creek State Park
1023 Sycamore Mills Rd.
Media, Pa. 19063
610-892-3900
www.dcnr.state.pa.us

This Delaware County state park holds 12 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds and Ridley Creek, which is well-stocked with trout. From the Sycamore Mills Dam to the mouth of Dismal Run, only fly fishing is permitted on a catch and release basis. There is an ADA accessible fishing platform with access via the park’s paved multi-use trail. All Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating regulations apply. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply, and when you’re not too busy catching the “big one,” visitors to the park can enjoy a number of other activities including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and more. All laws regarding Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating regulations are applicable.

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.