Overview of Major Pennsylvania Trout Streams and River
This limestone creek is full of big fish and has some great hatches. Though much of Hungtington County’s Spruce Creek flows through private land, it is worth mentioning because it is one of Pennsylvania’s legendary limestoners. Few streams have as many hatches. And there are plenty of wild fish, mostly browns, though most of them are crowded by stocked (and well-fed) hogs put in by private landowners and fishing clubs.
Spruce Creek, not far from State College has public water at the George Harvey/Penn State section near the town of Spruce Creek. Most of the fish in this small section are wild browns, but lunkers do wander from private fishing leases upstream and downstream of the public water.
The insect activity list is long, but to wet your palette, here is a sample: Light Cahills, Tricos, many caddis species, Green Drakes, Sulfurs, and Blue-winged Olives. The Trico hatch in August can be an exciting one, as spinner falls are often thick over gulping trout. Try Charlie Meck’s weighted Trico technique, to get your fly to stand out among the hundreds of spinners on the surface.
A deadly Spruce Creek combination is a Patriot or other big, bushy attractor dry with a bead-head olive caddis tied on the hook bend as a dropper. Many of the browns and rainbows will often take the dropper on the way down from refusal of the dry; however, some will try the large surface offering.
This stream has plenty of wild browns including some real hogs. Spring Creek in Center County, near State College, PA, is a big limestone spring creek with plenty of large, wild browns along with some great insect hatches.
The most appealing and exciting characteristic of Spring Creek is that is it a wild-trout fishery. The last trout stocking came in 1981 and, after the creek was ruled too polluted and contaminated to eat fish (by the chemicals Kepone and Mirex), a no-kill policy was instituted. The creek is now full of foot-long wild fish (rainbows and browns) with plenty of 16-inchers and quite a few hogs in the high-20-inch range.
Perhaps the most popular spot on Spring Creek is Fisherman’s Paradise, a one-mile fly-fishing-only, catch-and-release stretch, that angling teachers George Harvey and Joe Humphreys (pictured above) used for years as their onstream classroom. The Paradise is a slow, clear flowing section that much more resembles the smooth surfaces of the LeTort and Falling Spring Branch. This section’s fish are wary, namely because they get heavily fished, but also because of the lack of broken water and cover. A picnic area along Paradise makes it a popular place.
While Paradise is a place worth seeing and testing out you dry-fly skills with 7X tippets, don’t get stuck on those fish for too long. There are plenty of other areas worth your while that offer solitude, more fishable water with riffles and runs, and more aggressive fish; some you can drive to, others require a few minutes on the path. From Spring Creek’s headwaters in Boalsburg, down to where it meets Cedar Run, there is plenty of good water. See local flyshops for more information.
Pollution has ruined the once great Green Drake hatch on Spring Creek, but there are still good hatches of Blue-winged Olives, Light Cahills, Sulfurs, caddis, Tricos, and midges. The spring Sulfur hatch is probably the creek’s biggest event and it usually starts in mid-May, hits its peak in June, and continues sporadically into the fall. Trout feed on midges throughout the year.
LeTort Spring Run
LeTort Spring Run is a special limestone spring creek in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, namely for its smart, wild browns and beautiful water-cress laden banks. The smooth-flowing LeTort has been the focus of many anglers for many decades, and hopefully–if urban growth can coincide with conservation efforts, many more.
It was on the LeTort that legendary anglers Charles K. Fox and Vincent C. Marinaro spent countless hours experimenting with new techniques and fly patterns that were needed to get the attention of the spring’s wily trout. Today, well-known anglers Ed Koch, Ed Shenk (creator of the LeTort Hopper), and many others continue to use the LeTort as their classroom.
“All of it began when, as a young man from the raw mountain country of western Pennsylvania, I looked for the first time on the fair face of the LeTort and neighboring limestone streams of the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania. I knew instinctively that these waters were very different from anything I had hitherto known. They had a rich, fertile look about them that contained the promise of great fulfillment in the way of fishing pleasure.”
–Vincent C. Marinaro,A Modern Dry-Fly Code, 1970
The LeTort is most famous for its terrestrial fishing–ants, beetles, crickets, hoppers, and jassids (leaf-hoppers)–and many patterns were developed there. These include the LeTort Hopper and LeTort Cricket, to name a few, and are used today the world over.
Though the LeTort is not known for heavy hatches, it does have its share of dry-fly fishing. Early-season Sulfur and Blue-winged Olive hatches get the fish’s attention as well as a good Trico hatch in the summer. Midges keep the trout on a feed during the warm months and as well as into the colder seasons. Traditional Catskill flies don’t fare to well on the LeTort. Marinaro learned this quickly and was inspired to develop the thorax-style duns that he found much more effective.
Perhaps more important than mayflies are the LeTort’s freshwater crustaceans; sowbugs and scuds. These foods inhabit the area’s spring creeks and provide nutrient-rich food for trout year-round. Because the LeTort is a spring creek, water temperatures remain stable year-round and trout remain fairly active.
Thought the LeTort has been invaded by urban development, it is still a must-see for anglers. When standing on its banks, you can’t help but think of some of the legends that have stood in the same spot, with the same problem: “Man, that fish is tough; let’s see if . . .” It is mystical.
Just fifteen minutes from Harrisburg (Pennsylvania’s capitol) lies a little freestoner named Clarks Creek. Nestled in PA State Gamelands, Clarks offers anglers some quick solitude from city life.
Clarks, which runs about 20 miles, enters the Susquehanna River near Dauphin. It is paralleled by PA 325, which makes access relatively easy. Trout are stocked almost the entire length of Clarks Creek, but the most important section for fly rodder is the 1.9-mile Delayed Harvest, fly-fishing-only stretch on PA 325. This Delayed Harvest section has some nice fly-fishing water–a combination of riffles, slow pools, and runs. Trees provide good shade and cover, but can make casting a bit difficult. Long leaders and stealth are a must for this stretch, even for some of the stockers. The stream here, approximately 30 or 40 feet wide, holds stocked browns, some spunky holdovers, and even some native brookies.
Coldwater releases from a dam on the DeHart Reservoir provide refuge for trout during the warmer summer months. Possibly the stream’s most popular activity is its green inch worm “hatch” in late May and June. A Green Weenie or sinking version as the Flashing Rubber Weenie can make trout go mad and is sometimes all that they will take.
Other hatches include Hendricksons, Sulfurs, March Browns, Light Cahills, and caddis. Midges always seem to take trout as well as terrestrials.
Yellow Breeches at Allenberry Resort and Playhouse in Boiling Springs, PA, is the place to be in late August and early September for the famous White Fly hatch. During late August and into September, Yellow Breeches, near Boiling Springs, PA, can be the state’s most popular and crowded stream. That is when the great White Fly hatch is on, and everyone wants in on the action.
The White Fly comes off right before dark and the Breeches’ brown and rainbow trout become very aggressive, both on and below the surface. Try a White Fly emerger or nymph when you see the duns start to come off. Though you’ll see some fish on the surface, the bigger ones will take easier offerings deeper or in the film. The best time to fish the surface is during the spinner fall when the trout gorge themselves.
Much bigger than other limestone streams in the area, the Breeches is fed by both limestone spring and freestone tributaries. Because of its size, the Breeches does not resemble a typical slow-moving spring creek, nor does it sustain the cool temperatures in the warmer months as do other spring-fed streams. As a matter of fact, during the warmer summer months, much of the Breeches gets too warm for really good fishing.
One stretch, however, does provide good year-round fishing: the catch-and-release section from Boiling Springs Lake down to the Allenberry Inn and Playhouse. Cold water from the lake keeps this area fishing well during the summer. This stretch is by far the most popular and if you don’t like elbow-to-elbow fishing, try the stream’s other stretches from the town of Boiling Springs down to Williams Grove.
One nice feature about Yellow Breeches is its accessibility from the road. The 30 miles of the stream is paralleled by roads PA 174 and Creek Road and there are several car pullouts. The catch-and-release section mentioned above also has ample angler parking.
All of the water mentioned above is stocked water–browns, rainbows, and some brookies–though there is some natural reproduction in the colder sections near Boiling Springs Lake.
Beyond the White Fly event in the late summer, the Breeches has pretty decent hatches. Little Black Stones and tan caddis are good bets in March and into May, as well as Little Blue-winged Olives (BWO), Blue Quills, and Hendricksons in the latter part of April and into May. By mid-May, Sulfurs appear and slightly larger BWO’s, Slate Drakes, and Gray Fox. In the summer, starting around mid-June, Cahills appear along with Yellow Drakes and Tricos. The summer also provides some nice terrestrial fishing with ant and beetle patterns. Tricos continue into late August. Midges work well throughout most of the year and streamer and sculpin patterns are effective during high water.
Tulpehocken Creek’s four-mile Delayed Harvest section starts at the dam at Blue Marsh and ends at red covered bridge.
Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County, near Reading, PA, is a tailwater stream that offers good trout fishing throughout the season, including the warmer summer months. Bottom releases from the dam at Blue Marsh Lake keep water temperatures suitable for trout survival and limestone springs keep the water nutrient rich and full of food.
The Tulpehocken is a picturesque Pennsylvania fishery. The end of its four-mile Delayed Harvest section (starts at the dam at Blue Marsh) is marked by a long, beautiful red covered bridge (in photo) and a park that attracts walkers, bikers, and picnic goers. Fishing can be crowded, especially in the spring.
The Tulpehocken is mostly a stocked fishery of fingerling browns and rainbows, but fish grow fast and holdover well. Twelve-inch fish are common, and there are plenty of 16-inch and larger fish. Fish the moving water for trout; you’ll find mostly panfish, bass, and plenty of big carp in the river’s warmer, slower stretches.
The Tulpehocken’s spring Sulfur hatch is its most notable mayfly hatch. Late summer often yields a decent Trico hatch, and caddis hatches are plentiful throughout the season.
On a recent trip, we saw many aerial carp. Most likely spawning, these beasts soared into the air before finishing off their show with a mighty splash and re-entry. Don’t let this sight deter your hope for trout, there are plenty of them in the Tulpehocken too. And if it is your thing, hooking into one of 10-pound carp on a 5-weight can be a blast.
PA anglers discuss streamer fishing on their favorite streams
about small stream fishing in PA; from http://flyfishersparadise.com/
Some of the best purebred and hybrid striper fishing in the Northeast can be found on Pennsylvania’s inland lakes.
dedicated to flyfishing PA
the web site of Pennsylvania Trout, the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited.
PFBC Main Page
PFBC Main Page
from Charlie Meck´s Fly Fishing Small Streams reprinted with permission
Angling award records indicate that Pennsylvania’s biggest bass fall to August anglers, so forget about the legendary spring spawn and give these top-rated lakes and ponds a try this month.
Here’s a sampling of 36 dream trips for you to consider as you plan your 2004 fishing vacation getaways.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for Keystone State trout anglers as we enter the 2005 fishing season
Here’s a look at what’s in store for Keystone State trout anglers as we enter the 2005 fishing season.
by Barry & Cathy Beck
by Ed Howey
Pennsylvania’s state parks, forests, trails, rail-trails, heritage parks, and scenic rivers.
Many of Pennsylvania’s top stocked trout streams offer excellent hot-weather angling this month. These biologist-recommended hotspots will brighten up any dog day afternoon.
by George Harvey
by Ed Russell
Susquehanna drift boat fishing
Susquehanna River Guides will provide you with some of the finest smallmouth bass fishing on the East Coast.
The Susquehanna River is one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries east of the Mississippi
a great article
Global FlyFisher, Susquehanna Smallmouth patterns – a list of fly patterns that work well for bass on that famed river, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. By Robb Nicewonger
by Barry & Cathy Beck
Smallmouth on the Youghiogheny River
available in PDF format at www.slaterun.com
Pennsylvania spring creeks and freestoners you can enjoy when the Yellow Breeches and other famous waters become crowded…
by Barry & Cathy Beck
by Mark Sturtevant
Unlock the secrets of this Cumberland Valley spring creek…
by Mike Heck
by Barry & Cathy Beck – about Fishing Creek
by Barry & Cathy Beck
by Barry & Cathy Beck
Pennsylvania streams enjoying current springtime hatch
by Dave Rothrock
from the flyfisherman.com artcile: “Pennsylvania Trout Sampler ” by Ben Ardito
by King Montgomery
fly patterns for PA streams
Flyfishing experts share tips for wary Pennsylvania trout
by Cathy and Barry Beck
when hatches occur in central PA – from flyfishersparadise.com/
how to fish Cental PA streams after the major hatches have subsided; from http://flyfishersparadise.com/
from Angler Supply House forums
by Barry and Cathy Beck
in PDF format
Often you hear of Erie Pennsylvania referred to as the heart of “steelhead Alley”
from Forest County Sports Center
Good forum for info on fishing Lake Eerie tribs
The Upper Delaware has a reputation for a few things. Excellent water quality and temperatures, prolific mayfly hatches, and large trout.
If you live in the east and hesitate to fly out west for a big, wild trout river that produces even in summer, then the Upper Delaware is for you.
div class=’searchResults’>A Word about French Creek
French Creek is located about 6 miles south of Pottstown, PA. The Delayed Harvest-Fly Fishing Only Area receives more than 1400 trout annually and is stocked in mid-March, Late-April and early October