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Articles:                                                        Read other articles

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Lake Nockamixon: Fishing One of Pennsylvania's Great Southeastern Lakes

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Sailboats on Lake Nockamixon

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Lake Nockamixon can be a favorite picnicking spot, a place to ride horses, a place to sail, and a place to catch quality fish. To the Lenni Lenape Indians, the first inhabitants of the area, Lake Nockamixon was called "nocha-miks-ing" meaning "place of soft soil".  This meaning may have derived from the area's sedimentary rock, formed by river floodplains.  Other "soft soil" areas exist such as Quakertown's marsh and the various creeks that feed Lake Nockamixon's primary water source, Tohickon Creek.  By the mid 18th century, settlers had replaced the Lenapians and were developing the land, building homes, community structures, and mills.  Fast forwarding to 1961, Dr. Maurice Goddard, the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters, pushed for the formation of the now 1,450 acre warm water, man-made lake.  The lake opened in 1974.

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Lake Nockamixon is nested in northern Bucks County's "Nature" region and is approximately three miles east of Quakertown and three miles west of the Delaware River.  The lake is bordered by route 313 from the south, 563 from the west, 611 from the north, and Ridge and South Park Roads from the east.  Access to the lake can be made by several smaller bisecting roads.

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Rules & Regulations:

There are a few things to know before making your first cast.  Lake Nockamixon is open all year, day-use areas close at dusk while boat launching facilities remain open 24 hours a day.  Boat motors are restricted to 20 hp and standard Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) rules apply regarding boat registration and fishing licenses.

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Big Bass Program regulations apply.  From Jan. 1 through April 11 and June 14 through Dec. 31, 4 (combined species) with a minimum size of 15 inches may be kept.  No harvest with immediate release (no tournaments permitted) occurs April 12 through June 13.

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The Fish:

Scan PFBC's website or the IGFA Record book and you'll find quality fish have been caught from Lake Nockamixon.  The fly angler can expect to catch panfish and largemouth bass with relative ease, hybrid bass, walleyes and pickerel with work, and muskies with time.  PFBC records show they have stocked Lake Nockamixon with over 12 million fish (combination of fry, fingerling and adults) from 1991 to 1996.  The numbers seem staggering but are included in the table below.

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Lake Nockamixon: Estimated Number of stocked fish, 1991-1996

Species Number

Black Crappie

505,637

Brown Bullhead

7,000

Chain Pickerel

14,760

Channel Catfish

261,000

Muskellunge

11,600

Tiger Muskellunge

86,576

Smallmouth Bass

31,895

Striped Bass

4,516,488

White X Striped Bass

67,130

Walleye

7,301,375

Yellow Perch

10,600

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Topographical Map:

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Images courtesy of the USGS, click on image to enlarge.

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Image series (west to east): 1 2 3 4

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Aerial Map:

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Images courtesy of the USGS, click on image to enlarge.

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Image series (west to east): 1 2 3 4

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The Fishing:

Lake Nockamixon receives heavy fishing pressure at times.  Combine that with finicky fish and a multitude of places for them to hide and it's no wonder many anglers feel fishing Lake Nockamixon, or "Nock" as anglers call it, is difficult.  I too find myself in this category occasionally, but over the years I've found some things that work.  Give the following a try.

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Tohickon Creek, the major tributary to the Nock is worth fishing.  This doesn't mean that only the entry and exit points should be fished.  The creek's stream-bed winds through the lake and is visible via topo maps.  Try fishing the stream-bed with weighted lines, particularly as it nears points.  Additionally, the Nock offers many coves which provide excellent cover for largemouths and pickerel.  Access to these areas is best by boat or kayak, as shore fishing can be difficult.

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Time of year can be key.  Cooler months seem to be more productive for walleye and hybrid bass while warmer months seem better for largemouth and panfish.  Walleye (and occasionally carp) can be found in early spring staging near the tributaries.  Also, in early spring or late fall, try the fishing pier or other rocky areas.  The rocks will heat-up during the day and will transmit the heat to the surrounding water.  Sometimes the subtle temperature change is enough to turn fish on.

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While you're fishing, constantly scan the water for fish activity.  I have either seen feeding or spawning activity on roughly half of my Nock excursions.  These visual cues dictate my fly selection.

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The Gear:

Gear selection runs the gamut when selecting flies, tippet and lines.  These all change depending on the species you're after.  My rod selection remains consistently a 7 to 9 weight rod.  I typically use a floating line with sinking leaders or a Scientific Angler Quad Tip, adjusting the tip to the fishing conditions.  Occasionally, I'll use an intermediate line.  I fish 6 to 20 pound tippet with 12 pound a good reference point.  Flies range from size 16 to 4" Deceivers.  Pickerel, hybrid bass, largemouth and muskies all take Deceivers, Vineyard Minnows and bunny flies.  I usually fish these flies weighted in both bright and natural colors.  If fishing is slow, I'll switch to fishing for panfish.  Most standard panfish flies work, although I prefer using size 16 caddis larvae fished tandem.

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USGS Realtime Data:

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Lake Nockamixon Observation Well

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Tohickon Creek near Pipersville, PA

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While you're in the area, try Lake Towhee just northwest of Lake Nockamixon or Lake Galena to the south.  Both are smaller in size and receive less pressure.

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Lake Nockamixon Photographs

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8 pound hybrid striper

Lily pad cover

The marina

Weighted Deceiver for Nockamixon

Weighted Deceiver for Nockamixon

5-8 pound walleye

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Contacts:

Park Office................................................215-529-7300

Park Email (George Calaba, Manager).........nockamixonsp@state.pa.us

Boat Rentals.............................................215-538-1340

Cabin Rentals............................................888-PA-PARKS

                    ............................................make online reservations

Angler's Pro Fly Shop................................800-934-4862

Dave's Sport Center...................................215-766-8000

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References:

History of Lake Nockamixon by the Pennridge School District, retrieved: January 13,

   2008.

Lake Nockamixon (Trap Netting June 19-21, 2007), Fisheries Management Field Report

   by Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Lake Nockamixon: A Warmwater Gem by Ron Steffe

Lake Nockamixon State Park Brochure by Carl Haensel, Pennsylvania Angler & Boater,

   July-August 2006

Lake Nockamixon State Park Map

Pennsylvania Trail of Geology by Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey

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