Fishing the Loch Alsh Reservoir Dam

Today I fished, for the first time, the Loch Alsh Reservoir Dam. This place is in Ambler, PA and is a quick 25 minute drive, mostly via the Turnpike, from my house. It’s in Google Maps so easily found via GPS.

Overhead view courtesy of Google Maps. I fished the left side of the dam and left shoreline.

Access is as easy as it gets – there are two parking lots right there. You get out of your car and within 20 yards can start fishing. The reservoir itself is fairly large but only about 1/3rd of it seems to be fishable from shore. I could be wrong about that though as I didn’t explore today. I parked and went to the left-hand side of the lake and fished first from the concrete dam.

I arrived about 1:20pm and there were 8 or so other people fishing, which doesn’t sound like much but given there are only a handful of obvious fishing spots along shore, it was fairly crowded. Fortunately, soon after I went up onto the concrete dam, the two fellows fishing on the other side of it left to go fish the shoreline. I asked them if they had any luck and they said no, only small fish visible and no bites. I fished from the damn for about an hour or so with nary a nibble and then I notice the two groups of other fisherman were packing up to leave, so I had the entire left side of the reservoir to myself. I went down to the shore and started casting.

This is the view from the left side of the dam, which is a nice concrete spot to stand. Wide enough for a chair.

Soon after, a fellow shows up with a flyrod. He came pretty close to me, which was fine with me as I was open to chatting today to try to find out some info about this location and hopefully others in the area. Turns out he was there solely to catch sunfish so he could use them for bait that evening to fish for catfish on the Schuylkill.

He spent the next hour or so not catching a single thing. I then noticed, around 3pm, that the sunfish were starting to rise and taking flies off the surface pretty regularly. Having no luck with the trout glow baits, fake worms, and spinner bait that I tried, I tied on a #20 black ant to my ~8lb test line (yes, I was able to thread it through the hook eye!). Over the next 90 minutes or so I proceeded to catch about 12 bluegill. I lost many more because I wasn’t able to set the hook fast enough or they were able to shake off once I got them ashore before I could grab em. I had a blast, and this guy was just astounded – kept asking how in the world I was able to do it. I gave him a black ant and told him how, but he still couldn’t catch any himself. Later, as I was leaving, he kept thanking me profusely. It turns out that he had told his grandson he would take him catfishing that night, but he needed sunfish to use for bait to do it. Had I not been there and gave him the bluegills I caught, he wouldn’t have been able to take him. So it was a win-win for everyone except the bluegills.

I didn’t see a single fish get caught by anyone all afternoon except for the small sunfish I caught. The other fisherman told me there are some big bass, catfish in the reservoir and I did, right as I was packing up to leave, notice a bass jump out of the water to grab a fly. I will definitely be going back, possibly tomorrow, and using my flyrod to get dries and poppers out there and see what happens.

On my way out, the fellow I helped with the bluegill bait recommended I check out a place called Horsham Lake. Will look that one up!

Leo Sheng of EPF isn’t a big fan of the Loch Alsh, based on his video:

I just re-watched his video and noticed that it was filmed in 2015. In Leo’s video, the entire shoreline surrounding the reservoir looks cleared out – no grass even. As of today, the majority of it is overgrown and not walkable. Next time I go I will take more pics to show the actual fishable spots. I’m hoping that the maintainers of the reservoir clear it out in Spring and then it just got overgrown as the Summer went on, given that it was September 3rd, 2017 when I fished and posted this. EDIT: I just realized something else – it rained like crazy for 2 days straight up until this morning. It could be that the reservoir was filled higher than usual and thus that is why the majority of the shoreline was not visible – it was under water!

Notice the accessible shoreline stops next to the house.

All in all the ease of access and relatively short drive make Loch Alsh Reservoir a great fishing spot for me. The fact that, if it isn’t too crowded, there is enough overhead/space to cast a flyrod makes it even better. I’ll definitely be back.

UPDATE: I went back the next day for a few hours. The water did recede quite a bit but still most of the shoreline was under water. Caught a few small pumkinseeds on dry flies using a fly rod. Didn’t notice any fish aside from the usual small sunfish. No fish taking flies off the surface or jumping.