DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania

The name says it all: Fishing Creek is an ideal spot for any angling you might have in mind.

There are many world-class fisheries in and around the State College area, but Fishing Creek has a particularly abundant wild brown trout population that feasts on the massive hatches that run almost all year long.

Moreover, it also fishes well even as the summer heat picks up and the water levels drop.

Even if you can't make it for the legendary green drake hatch, you owe it to yourself to visit Fishing Creek while you are in North Central PA for any fishing trip.

Fly fishing for Wild brown trout on 'Big' Fishing Creek in Clinton County, PA

Making its headwaters near the town of Tylersville, PA, Big Fishing Creek, as it is often referred to, makes its run north and east where it empties into Bald Eagle Creek. This fishery attracts anglers from all over the country regardless of season, and when the summer hatches are booming, you will see some fairly stiff competition for space along the banks.

Fishing in the "Narrows" section often brings encounters with the local wildlife, and it's not uncommon to see whitetail deer, turkeys, black bears, coyotes and the odd rattlesnake as you tread the pathways near Narrows Road.

What makes Big Fishing Creek unique for an area packed with unique trout streams is its unusual geography. You will find that the variety of water flows and conditions vary a great deal for a spring fed creek, and Fishing Creek has conditions more commonly found in freestone streams.

When you are presenting your flies to the wild browns and brook trout that call the creek home, you are going to see fast flowing riffles, runs, and quiet pools aplenty. It's honestly a one of a kind stream for catching wild brown trout in the 12-16 inch range, so if you have the opportunity to get out on the banks or wading in the shallows of Fishing Creek - do it!

Fishing Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Big Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Spots to Fish the Fishing Creek

By and large, Fishing Creek doesn't have a bad stretch of water thanks to the large freshwater spring that feeds into the creek at Tylersville State Hatchery

The pH of the water is ideal for aquatic insects and crustaceans, baitfish, and sculpin of every stripe and variety, so the trout population thrives, and they are active feeders all along the run from Tylersville to the confluence with Bald Eagle Creek.

It's easily North Central PA's most productive fishery, particularly at the height of summer. However, if you are looking to land the big brown trout, you need to head to the Narrows.

The Narrows is a section of Fishing Creek near the town of Lamar on Narrows Road. Here you will find a wilder part of the countryside, and you will see plenty of wildlife if you move quietly.

Some sizable fish are caught each year is this part of Fishing Creek, and if you visit during the right time of day, you may land one yourself. Don't be afraid to walk further from the road to find a good spot here, as the action will be far better the further you are from the road. You will also have less competition from other anglers nearby, too

Best Time to Fish the Fishing Creek

It's hard to have a bad day of fishing at Fishing Creek no matter when you go. May and June are the peak season for fly fishing due to the prolific mayfly hatches, including the Green Drake hatch, that occur during these months.

The massive fly population brings the browns out in force to hunt up plenty of food. Be prepared to deal with competition from other anglers if you do visit in the summer, and make sure you have the right flies for every stage of the hatch if you plan on visiting during Green Drake hatch.

Last but not least, consider early morning fishing or night fishing along Fishing Creek, as the bigger fish often wait for the colder hours to come out of hiding.

Best Flies for Big Fishing Creek

Here are some of the best flies for Fishing Creek in North Central PA:

  • Cream Variant #12-14
  • Elk Wing Caddis #12-18
  • Bead Head Stonefly #6-10
  • Tunghead Pheasant Tail Jig #12-18
  • GD SculpSnack #6-12
  • Schultzy's S3 Sculpin #6
  • Tan Caddis #12-16 
  • Light Cahill #8-12 
  • Blue Quill #16-18 
  • BWO #18-22 
  • Midges #20-26

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Gear Recommendations

Pack a 9-foot fly rod and rig it for 5-weight with a 9-foot leader and 5X tippet. Pack your breathable waders for summer and insulated waders for the colder months. Bug spray is of crucial importance, as is a landing net for safer catch and release.

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

Fishing Creek Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Big Fishing Creek fly fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.

Fishing Regulations

There are three special regulation sections on Fishing Creek. Two sections of Fishing Creek are managed as Trophy Trout - Artificial Lures Only and one as Catch-and-Release - Artificial Lures Only (see map above).

Fishing Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The closest airport to Fishing Creek is the town of State College, and you'll need to make a short drive on I-80 to get to Tylersville or Lamar.

There are many traditional accommodations in and around State College and the surrounding area thanks to the annual convergence of parents and college students who will be attending Penn State University Main Campus each year. 

Be aware that early August is usually booked solid for incoming students and their families during this time though. There are also many RV parks, campgrounds, and state parks where you can camp if that's more your style.

Don't forget to check out local vacation rentals as well, as this is a great way to score a bargain on your stay and get more out of your trip, too.

Feature Image by Juan Veruete

Looking for more places to fish? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania.

Ken Sperry

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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