Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Big Springs Creek
The Southeastern section of the state of Pennsylvania
has some beautiful limestone spring creeks that provide
some very good trout fishing opportunities. There are
many, some popular and some rarely heard of. One of
the most famous ones is Big Springs located near the
little town of Newville. This is the 5th largest spring in
Pennsylvania. The upper part of this stream will give you
the shakes. The water is so clear that you can see
everything in it unless it is hidden under the grass. What
you mostly see are huge trout.
This was a popular brook trout stream during the
eighteenth century. It had not only had huge wild brook
trout, there were lots of them. The little town had several
hotels and was served by the Cumberland Valley
Railroad out of Harrisburg. From what I read about it, it
was a very popular stream in early American trout
From 1972 until 2003, it had its own state fish hatchery
at the head of the stream. From what I read, the
hatchery caused many problems. The effluents from the
hatchery destroyed the wild trout population that made
the stream famous.
Fly fishing Big Spring Creek is fun knowing they now
have 350 pounds of brook trout per acre. Some of the
brook trout grow to large sizes. Some have been
measured upwards to 20 inches. The state
still stocks both rainbow and brown trout in some
sections of the stream. The brown trout reproduce to
some extent. I might mention that the stream is also fed
by some smaller springs downstream of the large one
that forms it. This helps keep the water cool for its entire
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|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us with the dates you will be
fishing this stream and we will send
you a list of our fly suggestions. Please
allow up to 24 hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will
help you decide which flies you need.
3. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Big Springs Creek Fishing Report:
The season is open from April 4 through
Spring is the best time for fly fishing Big
Springs due to the hatches that occur.
Fly Fishing Guide to Big Springs
Like most spring creeks, Big Springs is not an easy
stream to fish. It has lots of large trout but the water is
crystal clear and catching trout takes some special
techniques that must be executed correctly. You must stay
hidden from the trout; you must use very light leaders and
tippet and you must make good presentations.
This is one of the finest limestone streams in the United
States. Its upper section is full of beautiful, large brook
trout. Unlike the brook trout you find in small mountain
streams, these grow large and become very selective in
what they eat. You want catch these on an attractor fly by
the dozens. You probably want catch one that way. This
stream challenges anyone. When you can catch trout
from its waters, you are able to catch trout anywhere.
Unless the trout are hidden under the grass, you can see
them. The problem with that is that they can also see you.
It also has a good population of wild rainbow
trout. Some of these trout grow over twenty
inches long. It also has some large wild
brown trout. These trout are also very
difficult to catch. You must make excellent
presentation, use extremely light leaders and
tippets, choose your fly carefully and be able
to land large trout on the light tippet. You
must be able to fish tiny midge larvae and
pupae imitations as well as imitations of
scuds and cressbugs on the bottom using
light leaders and tippets. The trout can be
caught. It isn't as if it is impossible. It just
takes doing everything right. It is a great
stream to learn to improve your skill on.
As with most other spring creeks, it is best to
actually spot the fish you intend to catch. If
you can find one rising, fish it for certain.
You should know what the trout is eating and
match it with a good imitation. There is not a
lot of different kinds of aquatic insects as
you will see in our hatch section on another
page, so that part is not as difficult as you
Fishing blindly to fish you can't see is
tough. It works sometimes if you can keep
the fly right along the grass lines but also
keep it from hanging up. It should go
without saying that you need a good pair of
polarized glasses to cut the glare. If you
can't see the trout, either the water's
surface is disturbed from wind or current or
the light situation is completely wrong.
This stream stays a constant temperature
at the spring and averages around 48-50
degrees year-round. It had a good
population of native brook trout until 1972
when the state decided to open a hatchery.
The wild fish population was almost
destroyed and the hatchery effluent was
proven to have done it. In 1991 it was shut
down. The brook trout population came
back and it is again one of the finest brook
trout streams there are. The insect
population also rebounded.
Big Springs Creek Hatches and
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the Big
Springs Creek and in all stages of life that
are applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call.
We not only will help you with selections, you
will learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92%
of the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else. 1-800-594-4726.
There are not a lot of hatches of aquatic
insects on the Big Springs Creek in
Pennsylvania. There are only a few mayflies.
They consist mostly of Blue-winged Olives,
Sulphurs and Tricos.
The Blue-winged Olives hatch in April and
most of May and then again in September
and part of October. They can be heavy at
times and the trout will feed on them
The Sulphur is probably the most popular
hatch that occurs on Big Springs Creek.
There were though to not exist for a period
of a few years but came back after the
hatchery was closed in good numbers. The
Sulphurs hatch in April and for most of May.
Tricos is the other mayfly hatch of
significance. It takes place in parts of the
stream during the months of June through
September. Some consider this mayfly the
most important of them all because of the
length of the hatch and others hate it.
Some caddisflies are also present in Big
Springs Creek. They consist mostly of
Cinnamon Caddis. They can hatch for a
long period of time starting in June and
lasting until the middle of September.
There are some other species of
caddisflies of little importance.Midges may
just be the most important aquatic insect.
They hatch off and on throughout the
year. You need to know how to fish midge
larva, pupa and adults on very light tippet
to catch trout when nothing else is
Scuds and Cressbugs, or Sowbugs as
they are called by some anglers,
represent the majority of the food for the
trout in Big Springs Creek. They are very
plentiful. Imitations of these crustaceans is
probably the most consistent producer.
As you would expect, imitations of
terrestrial insects such as grasshopper,
crickets, ants, and beetles become
important in the summer. They are usually
large enough by mid June to become a
factor. They are around the stream until
as late as the first of October.
It is a good idea to have Perfect Fly
imitations of the three species of mayflies
we mentioned in all the stages, Cinnamon
Caddis larva, pupa and adults, Perfect Fly
scuds and sowbugs, and Perfect Fly
hoppers, ants, and beetles. Don't forget to
have plenty of Perfect Fly streamers. You
can catch trout early and late in the day
on them. These flies will be all that is
necessary throughout the season.
Summer is a great time to fish because
the water is always cool.
Photos Property of Dennis McCarthey