Fishing is a very popular activity at Presque Isle, and we saw many people fishing both from the shore and aboard boats. Common species are perch, bass, walleye, trout and steelhead in Lake Erie. Panfish, perch, bass, muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, crappies, smelt and steelhead are caught in Presque Isle Bay.
We saw this fisherman reel in his catch on the North Pier. He identified the fish as a sea bass, said it wasn't good to eat, and tossed it back in a moment after this picture was taken. A woman and her son fishing nearby had sea bass in their bucket and were planning to take them home for dinner.
The sandy beaches of Presque Isle, washed by the sparkling clear waters of Lake Erie, provide the only opportunity for surf swimming in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Of the five great lakes, all of which are known for their cold waters, Lake Erie is the warmest. However, even on the hot July day that we took a dip there, it was still refreshingly cool.
There are 11 named and numbered beaches in the state park, all free, with parking areas and wide expanses of sandy shoreline. The various beaches have beach houses, picnic pavilions, sand volleyball courts, changing areas, restrooms, food and beverage concessions, and more. Those who have the time, or who come to Presque Isle more than once, might enjoy exploring each one to find beach just right for you.
The telephone number listed below is for the seasonal Lifeguard Headquarters, and you may call there for more beach information.
Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Presque Isle is not the kind of place one would go to find a wilderness hiking experience, but for the casual day-hiker it offers wonderful opportunities. There are 15 short trails, each with its unique interest, ranging in length from 0.2 to 2 miles, and totaling 11 miles. These lead to points of historic interest, and also through all of the six distinct ecological zones on Presque Isle, each with a different plant and animal community:
Lake Erie, the bay and shoreline
Sand plain and new ponds
Dunes and ridges
Old ponds and marshes
Thicket and sub-climax forest
For a longer hike one could take the 13.5-mile Karl Boyes Multi-purpose National Recreation Trail and extension, which makes a circuit of the park. This paved ADA accessible trail is also used by joggers, bicyclists and in-line skaters. During the winter this trail is plowed from the entrance to the park office for hikers. For cross-country skiers, the trail is left snow covered from the park office to Perry Monument.