Jun 6, 2012

Spring Creek Brown Trout

My Dad, Brother Steve and I headed out to Central Pennsylvania for our annual fishing trip with hopes of experiencing the Green Drake hatch on Penns Creek once again, but thanks to mother nature and all the recent rains and evening storms we had to go to plan B, which we made up on the fly.

We rented a great little cottage at Schafer's Country Cottages  located on Rt 45 in Aaronsburg, PA just a short ride from Penns Creek, Elk Creek and Pine Creek.  Daryl and Deborah Schafer own and operate these cottages and they were extremely helpful and responsive to our needs during our stay and the cottages were very clean and well stocked and offered up everything we needed.  We arrived around midday on Wednesday, a few hours before check in time, but our cottage was available and ready for us so we got unloaded, grabbed our fishing gear and headed out on a scouting mission to find some fishable water.   A quick stop at Penns Creek found the water running high and fast and way off color and Elk and Pine were no better.  We decided to head up over the mountain towards State College and check in on Spring Creek as this little creek is known for clearing up and getting back to fishable levels quickly and it was a good decision.

We made our way to the Fisherman's Paradise section of Spring creek around 4pm and it didn't take us long to strike up a conversation with a local fisherman who was more then willing to help us out.  He gave us some great information on the creek, the fish in it as well as bug activity.  He was so helpful and fun we spent almost an hour talking with him before realizing we needed to get on the water fast if we wanted a chance to land one of these Spring Creek wild browns.  This section on Spring Creek consists about a 2 mile stretch of river that is only accessible by walking in or taking your bike so even with plenty of cars in the parking area, we had no trouble finding a spot to fish. My dad talked my brother into doing some dry fly fishing, but I would have none of that and broke out the Euro Nymphing rig and about 3 casts into a little plunge pool I was hooked up and brought my first Spring Creek wild brown trout to hand.  I went on to land another 2 fish in a nice run just down river and even a  few branches as this little section was narrow and had me up against the brush and I quickly forgot I was swinging a 10 foot rod, but nothing could wipe the smile from my face.  We worked down river back towards the parking lot stopping at different spots to check out the water.  usually during these stops the rising fish would entice my dad and brother into a few casts which gave me the opportunity to pick the next open spot below them and to nymph up another fish or two. We finally headed back to the truck and off to find some dinner before heading back to the cottage for some sleep.

My first Spring Creek Brown Trout

Incredible colors and markings on these Spring Creek Trout

We got up Thursday and decided to head back up to Spring Creek for another run at those wild browns, once again parking at Fisherman's Paradise and heading up river.  This time I had talked my brother into doing some nymphing and stopped to fish a run that was just full of rising fish the night before only to get skunked in this run.  My brother was starting to second guess his decision to listen to me but he hung in there and was rewarded with a really nice brown that jumped out of the net before I could get a picture of it.  He claims I threw him back on purpose so there would be no proof of his fish, but that wasn't the case.  One thing for sure, when these wild browns are laying in the net all calm, it's just a ploy to get you to put the net in the water which causes them to explode out of the net as if they were shot out of a canon.  Well that is my story and I am sticking to it.  The best part of this fiasco was gentlemen taking a walk up the road stopped to see how we were doing and suggested we take up golf and just as they said that my brother was locked up.  They had a good laugh when the fish jumped the net and even were good sports and made sure to give my dad the business when they encountered him just above us. My brother and I continued to nymph up some additional fish while my dad stayed true to his desire to throw the dry flies.

My brother and Dad contemplating how to get their flies out of the trees.

Another spring creek brown that fell to a Frenchie style PT nymph

We headed out for lunch and a trip to one of the local fly shops - Fly Fisher's Paradise which is just minutes from Spring Creek were we were entertained by the shop owner and made sure to support him by making some purchases.  I told my dad that I bought him the secret flies that would finally catch him some fish, turns out they didn't work so well for him, but they worked fine for my brother and I.  See that evening they shamed me into working myself into frustration by flicking fleas and dry fly fishing.  I refused to leave my nymphing setup at the truck so I carried both just so I wouldn't explode from frustration.  I did nymph up a couple of fish, but I did put it on the bank just in time to take advantage of a spectacular sulphur spinner fall where I hooked into some nice browns, some when I couldn't even see my fly.  My brother and I landed some nice fish while dad missed about a dozen.  It was way too much fun.

Looks like this little guy survived something trying to snatch it up

one of three hefty little browns that couldn't resist my rubber leg stonefly

We woke up Friday and Penns was still high and off color so we decided to head to the Little Juniata, but dad wasn't paying attention and by the time I noticed we were in state college headed the wrong way so I had him bang a right and head back to Spring Creek.  Of course I was blamed for being a crappy navigator, but I was also blamed for giving my dad flies that don't catch fish.  I just can't win.  We decided to check out the stretch of Spring Creek by the Benner Springs Hatchery which offered up some wider stretches of water as well as some deeper pools and runs.  We walked a long distance down stream to get away from the parking areas and easy fishing access.  We can to an old bridge that ran across the creek and I noticed two large fish feeding below and it was long before I was down in the water trying to entice one of those two fish to biting.  My dad stayed up on the bridge and would give me a play by play and about the 4th cast into it, my coiled sighter jumped and I set the hook and new right away it was one of those larger fish and with in seconds, he came unbuttoned.    Man was I depressed and when my dad told me he saw the whole thing and it was a big fish I almost puked.  Oh well, we decided to work our way up the creek back towards the parking area.  I ended up with another 3 fish hooked up for short lived fight before they all came unbuttoned and I was starting to get discouraged but I stayed with it and just feet from where I lost my last fish, I set the hook on a beauty.  My dad kept telling me I was snagged on the bottom but he realized quickly that I wasn't.  I knew it was a nice fish and was expecting it to take me down into the rapids so I had my dad unhook my net and head down river.  He claims I was barking orders at him and expected him to sacrifice life and limb to net my fish and quite frankly I most certainly did.  Well i got calmed down a bit and concentrated on the fish and kept him locked up until the 17inch brown was in my net. Redemption felt good.  By this time we needed some lunch so we headed out.

This hefty brown was one heck of a fight - good net job dad

Love the colors of these fish

Another fish that couldn't resist the rubber leg stonefly

That evening we came back to the Benner Springs section and worked farther down river from the bridge to find even more great fishable water.  The sulpher hatch was one and my dad and brother starting throwing dries and proceeded to miss a few fish, so I jumped in and cleaned up a couple quick before they got frustrated.  We headed back to the truck only to stop and let my dad and brother fish to some rising fish.  My brother got into a zone and was hooking up while my dad missed a few fish.  When my brother caught his fourth fish I took my dads rod and decided I needed to get on these fish before he caught up to me and it wasn't long before I hooked into one on my dads rod with the same sulpher spinner that the fish were refusing just prior.  Needless to say my dad was not happy and almost drowned the two of us, but we had some good laughs over it later.  It was back to the cottage and a late dinner of venison burgers and bratwurst.

Saturday morning found us packing and heading down to Penns Creek to spend the last morning of our trip before heading back to my dad's house in the Poconos.  Penns was still high and off color enough that it was hard to see the underwater structure and it was like fishing blind.  There was little bug activity and no signs of fish and it wasn't long before the kayakers started showing up.  We left Penns with no fish, but we were not discouraged thanks to a little creek called Spring Creek.

Steve, Dad and I at the end of the trip before heading home

Can't wait for next years trip!


  1. Great trip! Thanks for sharing. The colors on the trout look great. Oh and i get blamed for giving people bum flies all the time.

  2. Wonderful trip. You really know how to do it.
    Love your photos.

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  4. Good God, those are beautiful colors! I am in AK now, and have started my fisheries work. Can't wait to post pics of all the Salmonids I run into in their spawning colors!

  5. Looks like a great trip...time well spent with family on the water. Great images of some wild fish!

  6. Sounds like a delightful trip! Nice post!

  7. nice fish and looks like plan B was a great success.

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