DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Hickory Creek in Northwest Pennsylvania

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 provide excellent fishing for stocked trout, as well as wild brown trout and brook trout, just outside Pittsburgh, PA.

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

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.

West Hickory Creek is a stream located about 14 miles from Titusville, Pennsylvania and 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 trout and brook trout near the headwaters.

East Hickory Creek 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 East Hickory Creek is managed under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only regulations that is popular with local fisherman.

Hickory Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on East and West Hickory 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 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 on 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

The season for Hickory Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout season. 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)

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

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

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 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.

West Hickory Creek 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 would be 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 flatscreen television. If you would rather have an outdoor adventure, Oil Creek Family Campground has beautiful scenery and plenty of activities to keep the entire family busy, if you need to distract them while 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.

Feature Image by Alltrails

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

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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