Give these proven Keystone State trout streams a try. Easy access, big fish and plenty of them means hot angling action this month for the adventurous fisherman. (May 2006)
The small gold spinner plops into the water. As it swings across the current, there is a sharp thump -- and the battle is on. Another trout season is underway.
Can life get any better?
Pennsylvania has one of the finest trout management programs in the country. There are opportunities to suit every angler. From heavily stocked roadside streams to remote wild trout streams, we can do it all.
One of the most popular streams in the Northwest Region, Brokenstraw Creek flows eastward from western Warren County into the Allegheny River at the Buckaloons Recreation Area. Access is along state Route 426 between Corry and Garland, along state Route 27 from Garland to Pittsfield, and then along U.S. Route 6 to the creek's mouth.
Unfortunately, posting is increasing along this fine creek, but a lot of water is still open to fishing. Only a couple of small sections are on public land: one through State Game Lands No. 143 between Spring Creek and Garland and near the creek's mouth at the Buckaloons.
The Brokenstraw is a medium-sized creek that flows out of swamps and mostly through farm country. The gradient is moderate, but with very few slack sections. During the first several weeks of trout season, it may be a bit less frigid than other streams in this area.
A top destination for flyfishermen, Oil Creek flows through eastern Crawford County and then through Venango County, where it empties into the Allegheny River at Oil City. Aquatic insect hatches are excellent during May.
The country's petroleum industry started along its banks with construction of the Drake Well at Titusville. In the early years of the industry, the river was used to ship oil downstream by damming the river and then breaking the dams to cause a freshet, or flood. At least once, the river actually caught fire! Now it's one of the prettiest trout streams you will ever see.
The best access and the best trout fishing are in Oil Creek State Park, between Titusville and Oil City. If you go there from the Pittsburgh area, take Interstate Route 79 north, I-80 east, then state Route 8 north through Oil City to the park entrance.
A long stretch of this creek is accessible only by walking, by bike trail or by float-fishing. Some of the tributaries hold wild brook trout.
There are two Special Regulations sections on Oil Creek, both Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only sections. One is a 1-mile stretch from the two green posts near the Drake Well Museum downstream to the Oil Creek State Park hiking trail bridge; and the other is a 1.6-mile stretch from the bridge at Petroleum Center downstream to the railroad bridge at Columbia Farm.
Hundreds of miles of trout streams flow through Allegheny National Forest, and excellent access makes these top destinations for anglers.
Among these many streams, perhaps most popular is Tionesta Creek and its tributaries -- the East, South and West branches. The main Tionesta forms where its branches meet at Barnes in eastern Warren County. From there, it flows to the southwest and into Tionesta Lake near the village of Tionesta.
The Tionesta may be float-fished by canoe, from an access point in Sheffield on the West Branch to Tionesta Lake. Through May, there's typically enough flow for canoeing. State Route 666 follows the creek from Barnes to Kellettville, providing great access. Canoe anglers will find several places to put in or take out.
There are several campgrounds in the area. Get more information by contacting the Allegheny National Forest office, 222 Liberty Street, P.O. Box 847, Warren, PA 16365; by calling (814) 723-5150; or logging on to www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny.
If you're looking for quality trout fishing based on size, the best trout stream in Pennsylvania is the Special Regulations section of the Allegheny River from the Kinzua Dam to the mouth of Conewango Creek at Warren. This is the only stream in the commonwealth where you can reasonably expect to catch trout in the 4- to 7-pound class. Brown and rainbow trout measuring 14 to 20 inches are common. Top end is more than 10 pounds.
Catching these big trout with consistency requires a slight change in tactics from those used in most of our other trout streams. If you're a lake-run rainbow angler, bring your steelheading tackle.
Top baits are emerald shiners or night crawlers. Also effective are jigs, stick baits, spoons and spinners, but they should be a size larger than you'd normally use for trout in other streams.
These trout are stocked as fingerlings, which makes them virtually wild fish. Catching them requires more skill than landing the typical adults that are stocked into most of our streams each year before trout season opens and during the first few weeks of the season.
Access is from state Route 59 along the south bank, or from Hemlock Road along the north bank. By far the most popular place is along Dixon Island, the first large island below Kinzua Dam. There's parking and public land at Big Bend Recreation Area just below the dam.
For the best trout-fishing experience on the Allegheny River, float-fish from the Big Bend area to Warren. This stretch is suitable for canoes or smaller boats. Canoe rentals and guide service are available in Warren.
For more information, contact the Northern Alleghenies Vacation Region, 315 Second Avenue, P.O. Box 804, Warren, PA 16365; or call 1-800-224-7802 for more details.
Trout-fishing rules for this stretch of the Allegheny are listed under Miscellaneous Special Regulations in the fishing regulations summary.
SLIPPERY ROCK CREEK
Folks in the Pittsburgh area love their trout fishing and are willing to travel to find it. But there's some fine fishing reasonably close to home. One dandy trout stream is Slippery Rock Creek. It flows generally southward through Butler and Lawrence counties before emptying into the Beaver River in Beaver County.
The best public access to Slippery Rock Creek is in McConnells Mill State Park in the southeast corner of Lawrence County. Manicured trails provide access to some remote stretches.
There is no camping in
this park. For information, contact the McConnells Mill State Park office, R.R. 2, Box 16, Portersville, PA 16051-9401; call (724) 368-8091 or you can e-mail email@example.com.
There is a half-mile Catch-And-Release Fly-Fishing Only stretch on Slippery Rock Creek from the Heinz Camp property downstream to a quarter mile below the state Route 2022 bridge.
For some first-class adventure, try float-fishing this river down from the Youghiogheny Dam to Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County. There's easy shore access below the dam, and trail access along the rest of this stretch.
There is a 9.0-mile All Tackle Trophy Trout section on the Youghiogheny from its confluence with Ramcat Run downstream to the state Route 381 bridge at Ohiopyle.
Canoe and raft rentals are available at the park. For information, contact the Ohiopyle State Park office, P.O. Box 105, Ohiopyle, PA 15470-0105; or call (724) 329-8591.
The Northcentral Region is big trout country. Streams here tend to be the last in the commonwealth to warm, but by May the fishing is usually great. Abundant public access on several state forests makes this a perfect destination for traveling trout anglers.
Several streams here have national reputations. One that draws trout anglers from far and wide is Kinzua Creek, which flows westward through McKean County into the Allegheny Reservoir.
A favorite focal point along Kinzua Creek is Westline, a remnant village from the logging era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Access is great here in the eastern side of the Allegheny National Forest. From U.S. Route 219 between Lantz Corners and Bradford, turn west at Tallyho.
There is a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only Special Regulations section for 2.3 miles from Route 219 at Tallyho downstream to Camp Run.
Another productive trout stream in the Northcentral Region is Kettle Creek, which flows southward through Potter and Clinton counties before dumping into the West Branch Susquehanna River at Westport.
The best trout fishing in Kettle Creek is above the Alvin R. Bush Dam in Kettle Creek State Park. Access is easy from state Route 144 from Carter Camp down to state Route 4001, which leads to the park.
There is a Delayed Harvest Fly-Fishing Only stretch from 500 feet downstream of state Route 0144 upstream for 1.7 miles. The Upper Kettle Creek Basin, including the main stem and all tributaries from Long Run upstream including Long Run, is in the Wild Brook Trout Enhancement Program. Total length is 28.3 miles.
Camping along Kettle Creek is available at Ole Bull State Park. For more information, contact the Ole Bull State Park, HCR 62 Box 9, Cross Fork, PA 17729-9701; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (814) 435-5000. Also try Kettle Creek State Park, 97 Kettle Creek Park Lane, Renovo, PA 17764-9708; or e-mail email@example.com; or else call (570) 923-6004.
Heading southward through the central part of the commonwealth is Penns Creek, a semi-limestone stream with good growth rate and holdover trout. It flows eastward along the border between Centre and Mifflin counties, through Union County and into Snyder County, where it empties into the Susquehanna River.
Some of the finest trout fishing in Penns Creek is found in Centre County by Poe Valley State Park and Poe Paddy State Park. Much of this stretch runs through Bald Eagle State Forest. It can be float-fished by canoe.
Special Regulations apply to a lot of Penns Creek. There is an All- Tackle Trophy Trout section in Centre County for seven miles from the confluence with Elk Creek downstream to the Catch-And-Release area in Mifflin and Union counties, which extends 3.9 miles from approximately 650 yards downstream of Swift Run downstream to approximately 550 yards downstream of Cherry Run.
Camping is available at Poe Paddy State Park and Poe Valley State Park. For details, contact the Poe Paddy State Park office, Reeds Gap, Milroy, PA 17063-9735; call (717) 667-3622; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact the Poe Valley State Park office, Reeds Gap, Milroy, PA 17063-9735; call (814) 349-2460; or e-mail email@example.com.
Anglers can reach Poe Valley State Park from U.S. Route 322 near the top of the Seven Mountains Scenic Area between State College and Milroy. Follow the marked state forest roads for 10 miles to Poe Valley. Go four miles east of Poe Valley State Park on Big Poe Road to Poe Paddy State Park.
Last October, the Blair County, Mountain Laurel and Fort Bedford chapters of Trout Unlimited completed a bridge and parking lot project along Yellow Creek. This Bedford County limestone stream is especially popular among flyfishermen. May is the ideal time to hit it for several great hatches. Cool limestone feeders maintain good fishing here through the summer.
Several other trout streams included in a 0.9-mile Special Regulations section of Yellow Creek, from a cable near Red Bank Hill downstream to the mouth of Maple Run, were removed from the Delayed Harvest Fly-Fishing Only regulations and added to the Catch-And-Release Fly-Fishing Only section. This was part of an overall effort of combining Heritage Trout Angling and DHF-FO programs.
Yellow Creek flows southward from northern Bedford County into the Raystown Branch Juniata River at Hopewell. Upper parts of Yellow Creek are classic limestone with calm pools. Downstream, the gradient gets steeper as the water tumbles over a rocky bed.
Access to this fine stream is from U.S. Route 30 via state Route 26 north at Everett and then state Route 36, which follows the stream for much of its length. To reach the Special Regulations section, turn off Route 36 onto state Route 1024 and go to the second bridge.
Big Trout Creek in Lehigh County is one of numerous beautiful settings for trout fishing in the Northeast Region. This creek flows eastward through the northern part of the county. It holds wild brown trout and is stocked from the Furnace Road bridge near Lehigh Furnace downstream 6.4 miles to the confluence with the Lehigh River at Slatington.
A 2004 survey by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission showed that good water conditions held holdover trout through the summer.
Pohopoco Creek is stocked with trout from the outflow of Beltzville Lake for a couple of miles downstream to the I-476 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) bridge. This section also holds wild brown trout and provides good fishing through May.
Pohopoco Creek flows westward out of Monroe County and into Carbon County where it enters the lake. Below the outflow it continues into the Lehigh River.
The lake and part of the creek lie in Belt
zville State Park. No camping is available. For park information, contact the Beltzville State Park office, 2950 Pohopoco Drive, Lehighton, PA 18235-8905; call (610) 377-0045; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, take Exit 74 and follow the signs to the park.
WEST BRANCH DELAWARE RIVER
For some classic big trout stream action, try the West Branch Delaware River, which forms Pennsylvania's extreme northeastern border with New York.
Serious trout anglers from around the world come here to fish. Although most of the attention is diverted to the New York side of the river, Pennsylvanians have half of the river from State Game Lands No. 299 downstream to the confluence with the East Branch Delaware River, where trout fishing begins to diminish. The state game lands provide the greatest amount of access. There are also a couple of Fish and Boat Commission access areas.
The daily creel limit here is two trout, with the minimum size 12 inches. Check the special Delaware River regulations in the 2006 regulations summary for season updates.
Finding public access to trout streams in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania can be a challenge. The focus here is on warmwater fishing, but there's some very fine trout fishing nonetheless.
Perhaps the best is at Codorus Creek in York County, which flows northeast out of Lake Marburg through York County into the Susquehanna River. This creek has ideal water temperatures the year around, thanks to its outflow from Lake Marburg. A medium-sized stream, it holds some excellent holdover brown trout.
Lake Marburg is in Codorus State Park. Take Exit 8 from I-83, and then go 18 miles west on state Route 216 to the park. Get information from Codorus State Park, 1066 Blooming Grove Road, Hanover, PA 17331-9545; or call (717) 637-2816.
There is a two-mile Special Regulations Trophy Trout section on Codorus Creek, from its confluence with the West Branch Codorus Creek downstream to a point 0.4 miles downstream from Porters Road.
For information about accommodations, try the Pennsylvania Office of Tourism, Room 404, Forum Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120; or call (717) 232-8880 or 1-800-VISIT-PA.
Special trout fishing regulations continue to evolve. Check the newspapers and the 2006 regulations summary, and watch the postings along the streams for any changes.
For more information about Pennsylvania's trout fishing, contact the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, 1601 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000; or call (717) 705-7800; or log on to www.fish.state.pa.us.