Spring Creek – A Central Pennsylvania Fishing Destination
Spring Creek in Centre County has long been one of the most well-known and popular trout streams in Pennsylvania. Spring Creek first gained national prominence in the 1930s when the Pennsylvania Fish Commission (as it was known back then) established the famous Fisherman’s Paradise section on the stream near the town of Bellefonte. Fisherman’s Paradise was the first special regulation area for trout in the country with the fishing in this half mile of stream restricted to fly-fishing only and wading was prohibited. The project was heavily stocked with trout and many of trophy size. The project was stocked extensively with trout and many were of trophy size, which offered anglers the opportunity to catch to biggest trout of their life. As a result, Fisherman’s Paradise became an instant hit and drew thousands of anglers each season not only from Pennsylvania but also from around the United States and Canada.
Until the mid-1970s Spring Creek was one of the most heavily stocked trout streams in the state. At that time, the stream was found to be polluted with pesticides that had been produced at a nearby chemical plant. Trout living in Spring Creek also were found to contain traces of the pesticides making them unsafe to eat but did no physical harm to the fish themselves. Stocking trout on Spring Creek was discontinued completely and regulations prohibited keeping any trout caught there so few anglers fished the stream. As a result, the population of wild brown trout in Spring Creek flourished, and anglers returned to the stream in droves. By the early 1980s, Spring Creek was again one of Pennsylvania’s most popular trout destinations.
Spring Creek now offers about 16 miles of excellent trout fishing, starting near the villages of Oak Hall and Lemont, just outside of State College, and downstream to Bellefonte and then to Milesburg where it joins Bald Eagle Creek. Fishing on Spring Creek is currently managed under “Catch and Release All Tackle” regulations. Fishing is open year-round, but no trout can be killed or had in possession at any time. Fishing may be done with artificial lures, flies, or live bait using spinning or fly-fishing tackle.
In 2011, a 4.4-mile section of Spring Creek between Benner Spring and Fisherman’s Paradise known as the Spring Creek Canyon was officially opened to the public for fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation. This unique corridor will provide unprecedented public access to Spring Creek’s remarkable trout fishery for generations to come.
Spring Creek is a fertile limestone stream that offers fly anglers some abundant hatches, and the most notable of those is the Sulphur hatch. Throughout the month May, throngs of anglers descend on Spring Creek each evening to fish the reliable Sulphur hatch and subsequent spinner fall. In the spring, Blue Quills and Blue-winged Olives, and Tan Caddis are important hatches. In mid-July, the early-morning Trico spinner falls can be phenomenal for those fly-fishermen up to the challenge of fishing an imitation of these tiny mayflies. Summertime terrestrial fishing with imitations of ants, beetles, crickets, or grasshoppers can be quite productive on Spring Creek.