Here is the top Pennsylvania trout streams that offer excellent hot-weather angling in July. These biologist-recommended hotspots will brighten up any dog day afternoon.
July is here and you think of how nice it would be to wade a stream again and cast into rolling waters and feel the strike of a slashing salmonid.
It’s a relaxing thought, but one you may quickly dismiss because, after all, it is July, and all the trout that were stocked in the spring by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission are long gone.
On the right streams, nothing could be further from the truth. Many Pennsylvania streams still hold trout in July, and in most cases, you will have the water all to yourself.
Area fishery managers agree on the basic ingredient that produces good trout fishing: water that is cool enough to keep fish alive and active during hot weather.
Mike Kaufmann, Area 6 fisheries manager covering the southeastern corner of the state, points out that water temperatures must be relatively low for trout to survive in summer. At about 70 degrees F, a trout’s metabolism shuts down, and many Keystone State streams reach and even exceed that limit in the dead of summer.
“Some stocked streams may contain trout in July, but the fish are merely surviving,” Kaufmann said. “They rarely feed and will not be in optimum health. Perhaps after a thunderstorm cools the water, they will move about in search for food, but summer storms may be too few and far between for some bodies of water to be considered good July streams.”
Conditions that keep stream water cool are the same throughout the state. A good forest canopy that shades the stream is a solid beginning. An influx of water from springs and cooler tributaries is another important factor. Many of these streams are not subjected to farmland or road and parking lot run-off, conditions that can raise the temperature of stream water.
“Also,” Kaufmann added, “Anglers are under the misconception that deeper pools in a stream mean cooler water. In fact, the temperature variation is only about 1/10 degree from top to bottom in many moving waters, even in rivers as large as the Susquehanna.”
Based on the opinions of area fisheries managers across the state, the following list is a sampling of the best streams for good July trout fishing in Pennsylvania.
MANAGEMENT AREA 1
Craig Billingsley, Area 1 fisheries manager, said that most of his area, which runs along the Ohio border, is flat, open-spaced land that is mostly devoid of the type of cover that produces good July stream fishing. However, he suggested two streams that are worth fishing this month:
Cool Spring Creek
Billingsley said the section of Cool Spring Creek below Route 58 in Mercer County offers the best trout fishing in July. This stretch runs from the abandoned railroad grade along state Route 2014. It begins as a Delayed Harvest section and runs to state Route 2014 (the Scrubgrass Road bridge) and from that point to the mouth of the Neshannock Creek.
Cool Spring Creek received a pre-season stocking of 2,300 brown and rainbow trout.
The entire length of Neshannock Creek is good July trout water, and runs from state Route 2004 (Cannery Road bridge) at Millburn in Lawrence County to township Road 476 and the confluence of the Shenago River.
This stream received a pre-season stocking of 11,100 browns and rainbows.
MANAGEMENT AREA 2
This area in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania runs to the upper middle of the state and is home to many cool July streams. Al Woomer, Area 2 fisheries manager, suggested the following waters:
This well-known Pennsylvania trout stream is in the Allegheny National Forest in McKean County, and optimum water temperatures prevail through much of the year. Stocking begins 0.8 miles upstream of the Kinzua Dam and proceeds to the Allegheny National Forest boundary, continues along state Route 0219 to the confluence of Camp Run and on to the confluence of Meade Run.
South Branch Kinzua Creek is stocked from Hubert Run to its mouth. Kinzua Creek received 7,230 brook trout and 4,320 browns in the pre-season. The South Branch received 4,800 rainbows.
East Hickory Creek
Stocking in Forest County’s East Hickory Creek starts at the Allegheny National Forest Road 119 bridge and continues to Queen Creek Bridge, and then to the bridge at Otter Creek. Fish are also stocked from this point to the mouth.
Hickory Creek’s pre-season stocking numbers were 1,250 each of brook and brown trout.
This Elk County stream is stocked upstream from the state Road 219 bridge north of Halsey to the state Road 4003 bridge, then along adjacent state Road 219 and the Tambine Creek Road bridge.
The pre-season stocking numbers were 2,270 browns and 4,630 rainbows.
MANAGEMENT AREA 3
Bruce Hollender is the fisheries manager for Area 3, which covers northcentral Pennsylvania. Here are his choices for good July trout fishing in his region:
Young Womans Creek
This Clinton County stream is stocked from County Line Bridge to Beechwood Trail, and 1.2 kilometers upstream to the Young Womans Creek Road bridge and on to the mouth. It received 1,780 brook trout and 420 brown trout in the pre-season.
Bald Eagle Creek
In Centre County, Hollender recommends the section below Spring Creek. Stocking in Spring Creek begins one kilometer downstream to the Boggs/Howard township line. Some 3,500 rainbow trout were stocked in the pre-season.
White Deer Creek
This stream runs through Bald Eagle State Forest and is surrounded by thick and beautiful scenery. Hollender recommends the Delayed Harvest Fly-Fishing Only section in Union County. This is a 3.1-mile stretch that is stocked from Cooper Mill Road upstream to the Union-Centre county line. This section receives 700 brook trout and 700 brown trout.
Keep in mind that most Delayed Harvest streams have a good carry-over of trout because of their short harvest seasons.
MANAGEMENT AREA 4
The northcentral to northeastern sector of the state is under Bob Moase as fisheries manager. He recommends the following streams for good July trouting in his region:
In Susquehanna County near the town of Lanesboro, Starrucca Creek is stocked from Stevens Point to its mouth. It received a pre-season stocking of 570 brook trout and 1,330 rainbows.
This Columbia County stream received a pre-season stocking of 1,070 brook trout, 2,810 rainbow and 2,940 brown trout. Stocking begins at Camp Lavigne Road (state Route 4049) upstream through the town of Benton, then to Orangeville and concludes at the Light Street bridge.
MANAGEMENT AREA 5
This is the extreme northeast section of Pennsylvania in the fabled Poconos region. Fisheries manager Dave Arnold recommends the following streams for good July fishing:
In Monroe County, stocking for Brodhead Creek begins at the bridge on state Road 1002, continues through the Stroudsburg Water Company property to the confluence of McMichaels Creek, and ends at the Interstate Route 80 bridge at Exit 52. Pre-season trout stocked included 2,940 browns and 6,860 rainbows.
Arnold suggests that July trout anglers consider this famed Pike County stream from the outflow of Pickerel Lake to the Lower Delaware State Forest boundary, and then to the Upper Ressica Falls Boy Scouts of America Reservation boundary to the lower boundary of the Ressica Falls Boy Scout Reservation.
Pre-season stocking numbers were 1,610 brook trout, 690 browns and 4,100 rainbow trout.
In Wayne County, stocking begins at the Mount Cobb Road bridge, runs to the confluence of Jones Creek, the bridge of state Road 3009 and ends at Forks Bridge Road (state Road 3005). There were 1,170 brown and 2,730 rainbow trout stocked here in the pre-season.
MANAGEMENT AREA 6
The southeastern section of Pennsylvania contains the largest human population of any of the management areas, but it also contains some good streams that hold July trout. Mike Kaufmann is the fisheries manager here, and these are his recommendations for a productive July outing:
In Berks County, this stream actually has two different sections containing good July trout water. The upper portion is open to all-tackle fishing. It was stocked with 2,310 brown trout and 5,390 rainbows in the pre-season.
The stocking is from township Road 580 (Mill Avenue in Stouchsberg) to the Charming Forge Road bridge.
The Tulpehocken empties into Blue Marsh Lake, a large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers impoundment. Below the dam is the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section of the Tulpehocken, and this also receives a large stocking of trout.
Because of the continuous outflow of water from Blue Marsh, this section is an excellent July trout fishery. It runs 3.8 miles downstream from the first deflector below Blue Marsh Lake to the covered bridge.
Another excellent Berks County trout stream is near and within the town of Birdsboro. Hay Creek is a classic example of a stream with cold springs and tributaries that help keep it cool. Stocking begins at the state Route 82 bridge near Geigertown, and continues downstream along state Route 2031 to its mouth. Pre-season stocking included 900 brown trout and 2,100 rainbows.
West Branch Brandywine Creek
This Chester County stream is near Sadsburyville. Stocking begins at state Route 4005 near Cedar Knoll and runs to state Route 0340. A total of 1,110 browns and 3,700 rainbow trout were stocked prior to the season.
In Lancaster County, Hammer Creek has State Game Lands 156 on state Route 0372 as a backdrop. Stocking took place downstream from the Obie Road bridge to township Road 598 (Clay Road) and then to the mouth of the creek. Hammer Creek received 1,020 brown and 2,380 rainbow trout during the pre-season.
Biologist Kaufmann suggested the lower section of this York County stream from state Route 2020 (the Gumtree Road bridge) to where the creek empties into the Susquehanna River. The Pennsylvania Power and Light Company manages Otter Creek Campground.
Kaufmann said anglers could expect both trout fishing in the stream or superb smallmouth bass fishing in the river in this area.
Pre-season trout stocking included 280 browns and 1,120 rainbows.
MANAGEMENT AREA 7
Area 7 is the southcentral portion of Pennsylvania. Area manager Larry Jackson offered a good list of streams that should be good for July trout in this area, including some that are close to Harrisburg.
Near Harrisburg in Dauphin County, this stream is stocked all the way from township Road 684 (near the Dauphin County Anglers Clubhouse) to its mouth. It received a large pre-season stocking, with 5,320 brook trout and 7,080 browns.
Also in Dauphin County near Harrisburg, the mouth of Stony Creek is along Route 322 in the town of Dauphin. It is stocked upstream to the gate at State Game Lands 211. Some 1,400 brook trout and 2,100 brown trout were stocked in the pre-season.
Perhaps Pennsylvania’s best-known trout stream, biologist Jackson suggests the Yellow Breeches’ upper reaches for July trout. Flowing through Cumberland County near the Huntsdale Fish Culture Station, the area to concentrate on during July is that portion from Route 233 to Boiling Springs Lake. This section received a pre-season stocking of 840 brook trout, 1,680 brown and 5,880 rainbow trout.
This Mifflin County stream offers many options for excellent summer trout fishing along its length. Stocking begins near Reedsville at the Bunker Road bridge, continues to the mouth of Tea Creek and then proceeds to the creek’s mouth. Pre-season stocking numbers were 2,390 browns and 5,810 rainbows.
MANAGEMENT UNIT 8
The last of Pennsylvania’s fisheries management units is in the southwestern portion of our state. Dick Lorson, the Area 8 fisheries manager, offered the following as his top picks this month:
Clear Shade Creek
In Somerset County, Lorson chose Clear Shade Creek because of its excellent trout habitat. Stocking begins at Pine Lake near Ogletown and runs to the stream’s mouth below the Windber Water Dam. The one-mile section above the dam is managed as a Delayed Harvest Fly-Fishing Only stretch. It received a pre-season stocking of 3,000 brook trout.
Laurel Hill Creek
Biologist Lorson said anglers should concentrate on Laurel Hill Creek in Somerset County, especially that portion of the stream that flows through State Game Lands 111. Try the stretch that is 1.2 miles from the footbridge at State Game Lands 111 Road in Humbert downstream to Paddytown Hollow Run. This is a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section.
There is also a 2.2-mile section on Laurel Hill Creek that runs from the Boy Scout Camp at Laurel Run State Park downstream to township Road 364. This area is a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only area.
These two sections received a pre-season stocking of 960 brown trout and 2,240 rainbow trout.
This Westmoreland-Fayette county stream is another Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section of water. It runs 1.6 miles from the township Road 916 bridge downstream to the state Route 0381 bridge. All-tackle waters are from the state Road 0381 bridge to Exit 7 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. All three species of trout were stocked in the pre-season in the waters of Indian Creek including 1,260 rainbows, 1,640 brookies and 2,200 browns.
Keep in mind that all of these waterways are open to public fishing, are clearly marked if they are Special Regulations areas, and parking is available on public ground and in obvious places along each creek. When private property situations are encountered, respect the rights of the landowner.
Also, keep in mind that all of these streams will have received a healthy supply of in-season stocked trout. Those numbers however, were not available at press time.
When you find yourself yearning to fish for trout in the heat of summer, don’t hesitate to try one of these top-rated streams. The fishing can be excellent and competition is almost nil.
Additional information on Pennsylvania’s stocked trout streams is available in the 2004 Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws booklet issued with your fishing license. Or log onto the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Web site at www.fish.state.pa.us; or call the state headquarters at (717) 705-7800. Phone numbers of area fisheries managers may be obtained from these sources.
To plan a trip near one of these streams, visit the Pennsylvania Tourism Promotional Agencies’ Web site at www.state.pa.us; or for general information, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) at (888) 727-2757.