Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Hickory Creek in Northwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

Hickory Creek Wilderness Allegheny National Forest

When you consider how many magnificent trout streams are in Pennsylvania, it shouldn’t be a shock that some of the smaller fisheries are pushed to the wayside. Hickory Creek in northwest PA is a prime example.

The East and West branches of Hickory Creek, just outside Pittsburgh, PA, provide excellent fishing for stocked trout, wild brown trout, and brook trout.

Hickory offers a respite from busy city life and quality trout fishing as it flows through Allegheny National Forest and the Hickory Creek Wilderness Area. To find out where to go, check out our brief guide to the creek’s East and West branches.

About Hickory Creek

Fly fishing in Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania

The Hickory Creek watershed drains to the Allegheny River in Forest County and consists of two primary branches.

The west branch is a stream about 14 miles from Titusville, Pennsylvania. It enters the west side of the Allegheny River near the town of West Hickory. The Creek is stocked with brown and rainbow trout but also contains wild brown and brook trout near the headwaters.

The east branch is the better-known of the two branches and enters the east side of the Allegheny River near East Hickory.  East Hickory Creek runs through the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only National Forest.  Allegheny National Forest is teaming with smaller trout streams that can hold some surprisingly large trout and is a region that is often overlooked by visiting anglers.

A portion of the east branch is managed under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only regulations that are popular with local fishermen.

Hickory Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on East and West Hickory Creek in Pennsylvania

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Spots to Fish Hickory Creek

The lower section of West Hickory Creek can be accessed from township roads off of State Route 62 (see map). The 1.7-mile delayed harvest, artificial lure-only section of East Hickory Creek is located between the mouths of Otter and Queen Creeks. 

The Hickory Creek Wilderness Area is located upstream of Forest Road 119. While no fish are stocked in the Wilderness section of East Hickory Creek, native brook trout and wild brown trout reside there.  Middle Hickory Creek also flows through the Wilderness area and is worth exploring.

Best Time to Fish Hickory Creek

Spring is the best time to visit because of the insect hatches, but visiting in the fall also has its advantages. In the fall, the larger brown trout get aggressive in preparation for spawning, and you will get to experience the beauty of autumn in Pennsylvania.

Best Flies for Hickory Creek

Here is a list of generally recommended fly patterns for Pennsylvania trout fishing that will work on Hickory Creek.

  • Little Blue Winged Olive (#16-20)
  • Blue Quill (#16-18)
  • Quill Gordon (#12-14)
  • Hendrickson (#12)
  • Red Quill (#14)
  • Sulphurs (#14-16)
  • March Brown (#10-12)
  • Gray Fox (#10-12)
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • Blue Winged Olive (#14-18)
  • Green Drake (#8-10)
  • Brown Drake (#10-14)
  • Slate Drake (#12-14)
  • Trico (#20-24)
  • White Fly (#10-14)
  • Slate Drake (#12-14)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Fishing Regulations

Pennsylvania requires all anglers 16 and older to have a standard fishing license and a special permit for trout fishing, which can be obtained online or in most sporting goods stores in the state.

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

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Tidioute, Pennsylvania, is Venango Regional Airport. The closest major airport is Erie International Airport. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Western Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for reasonably priced accommodation in the area, Quality Inn & Suites offers rooms packed with amenities, like luxurious bedding and a 40-inch flat-screen television.

Suppose you would rather have an outdoor adventure. In that case, Oil Creek Family Campground has beautiful scenery and plenty of activities to keep the entire family busy if you need to distract them. At the same time, you explore the fisheries in the area. 

Many anglers enjoy straying off the beaten path. If you are an angler who is unafraid of an adventure, look no further than Hickory Creek.

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

Feature Image by Alltrails