The Mighty Schuylkill - The Best Fishing Location in Philadelphia

--> Added Data from Schuylkill River (04/01/12; 04/07/12), FDR Park (04/03/12; 04/07/12), and PennyPack Park (04/05/12)

I've lived in Philadelphia for four years now, and fished for two consecutive years. I've travelled and explored different bodies of water; fished many different fishes; found new fishing spots (with determination and physical labor); and so on. It's with this experience in mind that I can proudly say that from all body of waters that I've been in Philadelphia, none surpassed the Schuylkill River in terms of fishing quality!

By fact, the Schuylkill River is the best fishing location in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. If you are not convinced by my statement, read the rest of this post, think about it, and make your own conclusion. If you are still not convinced after that, go fish it! =)

1. Location
To begin with, the River can be easily accessed:

- Public transportation to the River (Septa) is available from West, North, Northeast, and South Philadelphia through the Market Frankford Line (Blue Line) and the Broad Street Line (Orange Line). Apart from the Subways, there are 15+ different Buses that stop at the river's surroundings!* Also, there's the Amtrak - 30th Street Station - located right next to the Schuylkill River, which provides regional rails from suburbs and so on.

*For more information on Bus routes:
The 15+ routes that passes close to the Schuylkill River:
The Septa websites, which contains all available Bus routes, and subway schedules:

- The River itself has a trail, which makes fishing very convenient**. Also, there's a portion of the River called "Schuylkill Banks", which is maintained by the SRDC (Schuylkill River Development Corporation) and the Department of Parks & Recreation. In conclusion, a huge portion of the River is neatly maintained, and approximately 75% of Philadelphia's section of the Schuylkill River has a trail, making fishing spots easily accessible. 

**For more information on the Schuylkill trail:
A map of the Philadelphia section of the trail:
Schuylkill Banks website:

- Many portions of the Schuylkill River are convenient when it comes to basic needs. I've learnt from experience that it's very frustrating when needs are not satisfied. Water, food, restroom - these are examples of basic needs that we have, and they can be found in many different parts of the River. I know that there's at least a restroom near Walnut st.*, the Art Museum (Fairmount Dam), and Kelly Drive. In terms of water and food, fishing between Spring Garden and Locust street is fairly convenient! There are pharmacies and convenience stores around, hence the River is in Center City. At East Falls, there are also stores around. Also, if fishing at Kelly Drive, there's the Cosmic Cafe (I love the fact that they give away free cold water, assuming the customer has a container for it), which supports local products and good/fresh food.**

*Yes, this restroom is kind of ecologically fancy:
**Yes, this Cafe is kind of ecologically fancy too:

2. Fishes

Yes, "fishes". "Fish" for a single Species, "fishes" for different Species. In terms of fish diversity, the Schuylkill river will not lose to ANY OTHER body of water in Philadelphia. With more than 40 different Species of fish* in different sections of the river, this river is absolutely godly! For those who once said that the "Schuylkill River was the sewer of the City", it's pretty outrageous to imagine that more than 40 different types of fish can actually live healthily in this river, isn't it?

The Fairmount Water Works has a LIVE fish cam that is USUALLY on. The link is below:
Watch it for a while, specially during April-June, and you may be able to see multiple Species going up the ladder! In other words, fish migrating from the tidal Schuylkill to the non-tidal Schuylkill.

*Here goes some scientifical evidence to support the claim (biologist reports): (For Trout Fishermen) (For those with Flathead fever) (To show that 40 is not a magic number) (Fish ladder data 2004-06!)

So far, I've known the Species below (with respective locations for fished ones) in terms of fishing (F), observing pictures (O), reading empirical data (R):

- Channel Catfish (F) - Locust to Kelly Drive
- White Catfish (F) - Locust to Walnut Bridge
- Brown Bullhead (F) - Locust to Walnut Bridge
- Yellow Bullhead (R)
- Flathead Catfish (F) - Locust to Walnut Bridge
- Margined Madtom (R)
- White Perch (F) - Locust to Fairmount Dam
- Yellow Perch (F) - Locust to Market Bridge
- Spot (F) -  Locust to Walnut Bridge
- American Shad (F) - Fairmount Dam
- Hickory Shad (F) - Fairmount Dam
- Gizzard Shad (F) - Fairmount Dam
- River Herring (R)
- Common Carp (F) - Spring Garden to Kelly Drive
- Mirror Carp (F) - Kelly Drive
- Grass Carp (R)
- Quillback Carpsucker (O)
- White Sucker (O)
- Northern Hog Sucker (R)
- Bluegill Sunfish (F) - Locust to East Falls
- Pumpkinseed Sunfish (F) - Locust to Market Bridge
- Redbreast Sunfish (F) - Kelly Drive
- Green Sunfish (R)
- Black Crappie (F) - Fairmount Dam
- Rock Bass (O)
- Largemouth Bass (F) - Fisherman Statue
- Smallmouth Bass (O)
- Striped Bass (F) - Fairmount Dam
- Hybrid Striped Bass (O)
- American Eel (F) - Locust to East Falls
- Satinfin Shiner (R)
- Spotfin Shiner (R)
- Common Shiner (R)
- Swallowtail Shiner (R)
- Blacknose Dace (R)
- Longnose Dace (R)
- Creek Chub (O)
- Fallfish (R)
- Cutlips Minnow (R)
- Banded Killifish (R)
- Tesselated Darter (R)
- Rainbow Trout (R)
- Hybrid Trout (O)
- Brown Trout (R)
- Walleye (F) - Fairmount Dam
- Bowfin (O)
- Northern Snakehead (O)
- Chain Pickerel (R)
- Clear Muskellunge (O)
- Spotted Muskellunge (O)
- Hybrid "Tiger" Muskellunge (O)


- 51 Species all together (which already passes 40! So, it's good to say that the current Schuylkill holds 50+ Species of fish!)

- 20 Species fished
- 12 Species observed (Pictures/People)
- 19 Species read

O<R<F (which is good! Most of the data is actually from field experience).

So, when it comes to the "surprise" element of fishing, it's good to say that you never know what you will pull out of the Schuylkill River! Put one of the most universal baits on - a nightcrawler - and go for a surprise! Who knows...I've personally pulled Carps and Stripers on nightcrawlers before, at the Schuylkill River.

To finish this post, I've attached a couple pictures below! Spring is here, and so is the "Spring Mode" of the Schuylkill River - Prespawning, migration, and so on. Mike Hsiao has been spending a lot of time fishing there, so I've posted all the pictures that he sent me by e-mail. There are TWO very special pictures of RARE CATCHES at the Schuylkill that I'm saving for a next topic: a picture of a Hybrid Trout (BrownXBrook), and a Spotted Muskellunge.

Mike with his first Striper of the year!

Next pictures are of LMB/SMB, all caught by Mike a little while ago.

Mike's long Channel Catfish.

Mike with his snagged Common Carp. Notice that snagging is illegal in PA. If done purposely (Bare hook and brute movements), the Boat and Commission can charge the person! 

Another Mike with a nice sample of LMB at the Fairmount Dam.

My biggest Catfish of the year so far: 6.3lbs.

And another one...

And another one...

White Perch is finally around! Therefore, the Catfish are more active now. Remember the golden rule in fishing: always look for the baitfish!

Watching the rod carefully on a windy day.

From "the rocks" - the left side of the Schuylkill River.

"The Rocks" at night time - Boat Row.

Fishing between Walnut and Chestnut bridges.

Fishing at the Fairmount Dam.

Fairmount Dam from another view.

Prime Carp spot at Spring Garden.

Another view - Walnut st.

Best of luck for all of us!

Long Days and Pleasant Nights!


Leo S.
Follow my Facebook page for updates on every single one of my fishing sessions:
There are fishes around us! Follow my Statistical Chart for 2012 for my catches during this year: