There is probably more written about Penn's Creek than all other Central PA Trout Streams combined. The hatch that draws the biggest crowds to Penn's Creek is the famous Green Drake. I have been a part of the extravaganza many times and have yet to tire of it. I call it an extravaganza because it closely resembles a circus coming to town. There are fly fishermen everywhere you look, literally traveling from all over the United States to be a part of the great event. One of the strangest things that happens during the Green Drake hatch is that there will be very few people fishing the last hour or two before dusk. Instead you will find the river banks lined with fly fishermen patiently awaiting the arrival of the Green Drakes. The first time I experienced this I curiously asked an older gentleman why no one was fishing, he looked at me as if I were stupid and kindly said "we're waiting for the swarm to get here". When the swarm does get there it is like nothing you have ever experienced in your life. The Green Drakes that come off Penn's Creek are huge and occur in extraordinary numbers. Many portrayals of the Green Drake Hatch on Penn's Creek talk about how difficult it can be to catch trout because of the abundance of natural food. I'm sure it happens but each time I have experienced the hatch the trout were feeding voraciously and by paying careful attention to the rhythm of rising trout even a novice can have a lot of success.
Although the Green Drakes are a major attraction they are not the only reason to fly fish Penn's Creek. There is an abundance of Trout and a wide variety of terrific hatches. Whether it be by chance or the result of special regulations combined with an abundance of food, the trout that I have caught on Penn's Creek are typically in the 13"-18" range and are consistantly heavy.
When I think of Penn's Creek I usually think of it as the Coburn section and the Poe Paddy section. Both are wonderful stretches that will provide great fly fishing opportunities. You can visit the map links below in the Where to Fish section for more information.
The best word I can use to describe the wading conditions on Penn's Creek is exhausting, or maybe it should be treacherous. Either way, Penn's Creek is one of those places that regardless of your age or abilities a wading staff should be a part of your fly fishing arsenal. The rocks are extremely slippery and in many locations better described as boulders. I have on many occasions stepped off of a large boulder only to find a very deep hole that is un wadable. On other occasions I have stepped onto a submerged boulder only to be pushed off by a very strong current; and I wear felt lined wading boots with studs. Although there are many spots that can be negotiated with only moderate effort extreme caution should be taken on the majority or Penn's Creek.
There is relatively good access along Penn's Creek provided by a dirt road in the Coburn area and walking paths in the Poe Paddy area. Parking spaces close to your spot can be more difficult to find. Generally speaking, when I fish the Poe Paddy section I will walk fairly long distances, sometimes more than 30 minutes and if fishing in Coburn I can usually find a spot within 5-15 minute walk.
The PFBC has Special Regulations for Penn's Creek to ensure wild trout preservation. The regulation areas cross County lines and can be viewed seperately by clicking on the respective Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision links.
Centre County: PFBC Special Regulations explanation.
Union County : PFBC Special Regulations explanation.
Hatch Information: Penn's Creek has extraordinary hatches. There are three things that make the hatches on Penn's Creek extraordinary. First the variety of hatches cannot be surpassed; you will find nearly everything that hatches on the East coast on Penn's. Second the density of the hatches is at times unbelievable. On occasion when shining my headlamp towards the water to release a trout I will look at the surface and literally not be able to see any water through the spent spinners. The third thing that makes the hatches on Penn's Creek extraordinary is that everything seems to be a size or two bigger than anywhere else. Many are aware that the Green Drakes are bigger there but I have seen Sulphurs that had to be in the 9-10 range. Early season Grannom hatches can be very dense and can often produce more success than more popular later season hatches. The timing of hatches can be very different from year to year and if you are making plans to come to the area for a certain hatch I recommend checking fishing reports often and talking with the guys at the fly shops. Even if you plan a trip and miss the hatch your looking for there is a very good chance that something will be happening on Penn's Creek. Be sure to check out the Central PA Fly Fishing Hatch Chart! can be found on Penn's Creek. You may want to have a few of each in a size or two larger than you would expcet to see.
Stream Conditions: A large portion of Penn's Creek runs through farmland and can muddy very quickly during hard rains. In addition it often takes several days of dry weather for it to lose it's chocolate milk color. I have fished Penn's Creek when it was very muddy and still had some success by concentrating on areas where feeder streams such as Elk Creek dump into it. A height of 3.00 feet and a flow rate of 500 will be pushing the upper boundaries of what is fish able. Penn's is hard enough to wade when low these kind of conditions will force you to stay close to the bank and seek out it's shallowest spots. Penn's can warm quickly in the Summer and focus again should be near cooler feeder streams. Elk is always 5-10 degrees cooler than Penn's Creek. Finally the values given are for the USGS gauge in the town of Penn's Creek which is several miles downstream of the special regulations areas. The numbers are typically be a good indicator of what is going on but you should check with the featured fly shop and see what others are saying on the forum when you are in doubt. Click on Stream Conditions to check the current levels. You can also call the USGS hotline 24 hours a day: 1-888-881-7555.
Fishing Reports: Click on the link to enter the Central PA Fly Fishing Reports. See how others are doing on the water or take a minute to post your own successes.
Penn's Creek Lodging & Restaurants: Hungry? Need a place to stay? Click on the this link to be taken to a page dedicated to helping you find local restaurants and lodging that are close to the water. All of these local services can also be located on the interactive maps.
Interactive Maps: Click on this link to be taken to interactive maps of the area. In addition to being able to see where to fish, you can also get printable directions on how to get there and locate local services in the area like fly shops, restaurants, lodging and guide services.
The Feathered Hook - 814-349-8757 is located in the town of Coburn and has a great selection of flys. They also offer lodging.
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