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Fishing Pennsylvania's trout streams - part I

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Fly fishing for trout on Penns Creek and Fishing Creek

On a recent expedition to Ohio to fish for steelhead, I decided that I would break up the trip with a stopover in central Pennsylvania to fish some fabled trout streams of that area. I don’t get to Pennsylvania often for trout fishing, and whenever I do, I record a note to self that I should make more of an effort to do so. The trout fishing here is some of the best in the United States.

Spring Creek is a 'Fishermans Paradise'

My last excursion to Pennsylvania in 2020 was to fish Spring Creek near State College and that was a productive visit. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to fish in Bellefonte, right in the middle of town, and break for lunch with a burger and a beer only a few steps from the creek. If you are diligent in your technique and fly selection, it is hard not to hook up on the Spring Creek as it is one of the waters in Pennsylvania most densely populated with brown trout – about 5,000 fish per mile according to the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

Fly fishing Penns Creek

On this recent excursion, I called ahead to the Feathered Hook fly shop in Coburn to ask about conditions of the area waters and recommendations as to where to fish. The prospects were good according to Jonas Price and he recommended Spring Creek because of the robust brown trout population. But I was looking for a new stream experience and received a few pointers on where to fish Penns Creek and Fishing Creek, both of which feature in Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s Best Trout Streams.

bridge over Penns Creek in Coburn, PA

After chatting with Logan in the Feathered Hook fly shop and buying some flies (we have to support our local fly shops), I set off to fish a section of Penns Creek along Tunnel Road – a wading staff and studded boots are recommended along this stretch. There was a small hatch and I witnessed a few browns breaching the water. It wasn’t long before a #18 blue winged olive tempted a strike from an 8” brown trout. About an hour in, the hatch had ended, and the fishing went cold. So, I packed up and headed to Fishing Creek near Lamar.

a Penns Creek brown trout

Fly fishing at Fishing Creek

My friend Lars says that there are waters that you fish and then there are waters where you go to test your skill – he first used this expression to describe the Dream Stream in Colorado (which I now call the “in my dreams stream” for that reason). I was reminded of this expression while fishing the Narrows of Fishing Creek. At the Feathered Hook fly shop, Logan confidently stated that this water was the second hardest to fish for trout in the Keystone State – partly because brown trout are easily spooked, but also because the population of about 2,000 fish per mile is less than Penns Creek and meaningfully less than Spring Creek.

fishing the Narrows near Lamar, PA

So, while I had no problem finding very fishable water along Narrows Road – there are many laybys with posted fishing regulations and easy access to the creek – finding fish was a different story altogether. But I was thankful for an new adventure and enjoyed the exploration, albeit humbling!

Note: I am not being compensated for mentioning the Feathered Hook. I am simply a satisfied client.

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