Fishing Creek, Pennsylvania
Copyright 2018 James Marsh
February, 2018 Issue
F
ishing Creek is the name of several trout streams in Pennsylvania, but in the eyes
This is a very complex stream, especially when it is introduced to someone new to
the area. When Angie and I first visited the stream a few years ago, we ask some
locals for directions. When we got to where they sent us, the stream did not come
close to fitting the description of what we expected from reading about it. We
thought we were on the wrong "Fishing Creek". It turned out that we were just in a
section of the stream that looks much different than the general description of it.

Fishing Creek twist around and at one point, it is headed back in the opposite
direction that it ran for miles. Another, even stranger thing about it is the fact that
during the summer, it runs underground in two different places along its length, and
then reappears. That isn't at all bad. In fact it is good because the stream
reemerges with cool water. The entire stream stays cool even during the hottest
days of the summer. During our first trip there during early September, a few years
ago, we were again surprised by the stream when we finally found the area called
the "Narrows". The stream looked like any freestone stream (not a spring creek) in
the East, but it had that low layer of fog over it. That was a strange appearance for
pocket water because the air temperature was in the nineties.

About 25 miles of Fishing Creek is "Class A" water according to the state of
Pennsylvania. That means it has a population of wild trout that does not need any
supplemental planting of trout, meaning "stocked trout". I'm told it has far more than
the requirement in much of its class A section. However, there are sections of the
stream that are stocked. I think most anglers would agree with me when I say it is just
a very weird trout stream. However, I think most of them would also agree that it is a
very good trout stream.

Fishing Creek has two major limestone tributary streams that also add cool water to
it - Cedar Run and Long Run. These are true limestone spring creeks that look like
limestone spring creeks. They are narrow, 15 to 20 wide creeks with a lot of aquatic
vegetation. I like Cedar Run. It has a good population of wild trout. It also has some
fast water sections which adds some diversity of the normal slow moving spring
creek. Its water stays in the fifty degree range.

Long Run is complicated {messed up would be a better word} because of a State
Fish Hatchery located on it. It would be great little stream if it wasn't for that. I'm
certain it makes a fine fish hatchery but it also fouls up the water in Long Run below
the hatchery. There are usually a lot of hungry fishermen hanging around the
hatchery trying to catch a meal. Of course the trout are used to stock other waters,
or at least I think they are. I also think the state would be better off using the money
collected from the sale of fishing license to issue "fish n clip" food stamps rather
than wasted on a trout stocking program, but Pennsylvania, or any other state
operates on the basis of what I think. They are not the only state that functions on a
primitive line of reasoning.

ishing Creek is certainly one of if not the best trout stream in Pennsylvania. It does
have some problems, some of which are inherent with being a good trout stream. It
is an extremely popular destination, not for just the locals but for others coming to
test the fine fishing in central Pennsylvania. This area is at its peak just prior to the
beginning of the peak of the season of the western streams in the Yellowstone
area. To put it bluntly, it can be very crowded especially in the "Narrows".

The last time Angie and I fished "Fishing Creek" we started in the "Narrows". We
noticed it was not crowded even though it was during the prime season. What a
relief we thought. What we didn't notice was the sign on a tree very close to us.
Well, we did notice the sign, we just thought it was the normal catch and release
notice and didn't read it. Very shortly after we started fishing, a car pulled up and a
gentleman got out and asked about the special "Sunday" fishing regulation. I didn't
have a clue what he was asking about. He was really just being nice and pointing
out that just above us was a sign that said "no fishing on Sunday". It was Sunday
afternoon. My first thoughts were that my mother had been put in charge of the
regulations. She used to say "no fishing on Sunday". The only way I got away with it
was by going to church first. It turned out that we were just below where that rule
took effect, or at least i think we were. Anyway, we stopped fishing and moved
downstream in another section of Fishing Creek.

The first time we ever fished Fishing Creek was near the end of August several
years ago. We fished the "narrows" then after we finally found that section of the
stream. I thought it was beautiful and must have a trout behind every rock. Well, it
may have but they didn't want to take my flies and the result was that Angie caught
one small brown trout and I didn't catch a single trout in over three hours of fishing.
The water was quite low but still very cool. There are some deep holes along the
pocket water section in the Narrows. It looks much like Little River in its upper parts,
that is if you ignore the cloud of fog lying low over the water and begin to look
closely at the water. It is pure spring water and it is slick.

The following day, we went back to the Narrows and I managed to catch three nice
brown trout in about three hours of fishing. They were between twelve and fourteen
inches long. The action was slow and I had to fish a small Blue-winged Olive nymph
imitation to do that.

I fish this area of Fishing Creek exactly like I fish the upper Little River in Great
Smoky Mountains National Park. I fish in an upstream direction making a lot of short
cast. I don't use a strike indicator. I just weight the fly a few inches above it with split
shot until I get the right amount of weight to keep in near the bottom. I don't use the
"high stickin" method. That doesn't work very well in Fishing Creek, especially
during the low water times. I simply cast up and across and watch and feel the line
to detect the takes.

We moved on after that to another Pennsylvania stream. Tomorrow I will tell you
about the second trip we made to Fishing Creek a couple of years after that. It
turned out to be much better. I will also get into the many hatches that occurs on
this fine trout stream.

Fishing Creek can be a very difficult stream to fish, especially when the water is low
and very clear. I am strictly speaking of wild trout and not referring to the stocked
trout areas of the stream. Pressure from a lot of anglers on such a small area of the
creek (the Narrows) takes its toll on the 'catching' part. Looking back over our video
logs, I see that we have fished the stream eight times during six different years. Our
best brown trout was a measured 16 inches. It was the only trout noted on the shot
logs over 14 inches.

Our limited experience at Fishing Creek has ranged from very tough to fairly easy. I
think it all had to do with hatches occurring or not occurring. During our best day
there, and probably eight hours of actual fishing (one at a time), we managed to
catch 15 brown trout. That is easy to determine from our shot logs. They probably
averaged about 12 inches, but that is a guess since we didn't measure any but the
very largest. However, you want to look at it, that is a good catch of wild brown trout.
That occurred on a day that the stream was very crowded. It was during the
Hendrickson hatch a few years ago.

The stream has a good reputation for large brown trout, Like all streams with big
browns, it seems to have a few very large browns that stay in control of certain
areas of the stream. They are usually very difficult to catch other than during the
spawning season. In terms of the number of brown trout in the Narrows Section in
comparison to most other pocket water streams, it would be my guess that Fishing
Creek has a lot more. I think one reason is many other streams also have a good
population of rainbow trout and Fishing Creek doesn't.

Fishing Creek has many very good hatches. The water is packed full of aquatic
insects. There are several species of caddisflies present. I don't think we have ever
found as many large rock worms, or free-living caddisfly larvae, as we have at
Fishing Creek. There appears to be a large population of Little Black/strawberry
chimney cased caddis there also. It also has a huge amount of net-spinning caddis,
or Cinnamon Caddis present.

It has a decent hatch of Green Drakes. However, we have been there during the
Green Drake hatch and it turned out to be one of our worst trips. That doesn't
necessarily mean it had something to do with the mayflies. The stream was very
crowded and every trout there was probably spooked a few times a day.

The stream has several Blue-winged Olive species including large numbers of the
larger Eastern BWOs. Hendrickson, Blue Quills, Sulphurs, Pale Evening Duns, Quill
Gordons, Slate Drakes, American March Browns, Light and Cream Cahill mayflies
are also present in good quantities. The big difference in Fishing Creek and a
typical mountain, freestone stream, in terms of aquatic insects, is that Fishing Creek
has a much larger mayfly and caddisfly population. There are also stoneflies as well
as midges, damsel flies, dragonflies, and others. The stream also has a good
population of terrestrial insects.  

I could recommend Fishing Creek to anyone visiting the State College area along
with Spring, Penns Creek and other streams. We have enjoyed our trips there and
plan on going back every chance we get.  
by James Marsh
Fishing Journal
October, 2018 Issue
Great Destination Streams
of many anglers, there is only one "Fishing Creek". It is the one in Chilton County,
near Interstate 80, less than an hour from State College. Many call it the finest trout
stream in Pennsylvania. It has an excellent population of wild brown and brook trout.
fishing creek pennsylvania
Pennsylvania special regulation sign
angie marsh fishing
moss in fishing creek pa
fly fishing
Angie Marsh fishing
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view
Water comes out of the ground at a
constant temperature all year. Heavy
tree cover provides a canopy that
keeps the water cool all summer, even
where there are no springs.
The state of Pennsylvania keeps the
stream in good shape with good
populations of trout with strict rules
and regulations.
The high pH of the water keeps the
stream full of aquatic insects and
crustaceans, providing lots of food for
the trout. Look at the moss on the
bottom of the stream.
Unlike most limestone spring creeks,
this one consist of heavy pocket water,
not smooth flowing, glass, slick,
meadow type water.
You don't dare take your eyes off of
your dry fly. Get a good drift with a
good imitation of the hatch, and you
will get a strike.