Kettle Creek in Potter County Pennsylvania

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Kettle Creek in North-Central Pennsylvania

Taking its name from the sound of the waters, Kettle Creek is a fast roiling freestone stream that widens and deepens along its 67-mile length.

Most of the stream is Class-A rated wild trout water, and the annual fly hatches are the stuff of fly fishing legend.

On Kettle Creek, the big wild browns and brook trout prowl the riffles, pools and runs in search of food, and few of them are fussy eaters.

You can also find large rainbows depending on where you are, and even though they are hatchery raised they still thrive along Kettle Creek.

If you are making the pilgrimage to fish the great trout streams of North Central Pennsylvania, then you need to make sure one of your stops is along Kettle Creek.

Fly Fishing Kettle Creek in Potter County Pennsylvania

The headwaters of Kettle Creek form around its Billings Branch tributary, and run all the way south of the Route 433 Bridge to Kettle Creek Lake. There’s a Catch-and-Release - Flyfishing Only (CRFFO) section near the SR144 Bridge for a couple miles, which keeps Kettle Creek full of fish even in the hottest part of the summer.

Upper Kettle Creek fishes especially well in the mornings and evenings, and many anglers find success at night, too. The bulk of the wild trout in Kettle Creek keep to the upper reaches between the Billings Branch and the 433 Bridge.

The lower river (closer to Kettle Creek Lake) has fewer wild trout for the taking, but there are plenty of stocked browns and rainbows that are fairly easy pickings. Landing a wild brown or brook is more challenging here, but it can be done with patience and the right flies.

Additionally, Trout Unlimited and the Kettle Creek Watershed Association have planted trees along the banks to add some stability along the lower river, and the shade keeps the water cooler even during the heat of the day.

Amy Wolfe of Trout Unlimited explains the PADEP Exceptional Value water quality status that has been bestowed on the Kettle Creek Watershed and what that means for the fishing (hint: it's really good)

Kettle Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

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Kettle Creek (CRFFO): 41.499676, -77.771187
Beaverdam Run, PA: 41.391666, -77.924446
Billings Branch, PA: 41.628948, -77.576265
Cross Fork, PA: 41.483055, -77.819443
Germania Branch, PA: 41.592777, -77.626114
Hammersley Fork, PA: 41.479808, -77.879720
Indian Run, PA: 41.579445, -77.649170
Kettle Creek (2), PA: 41.561069, -77.680342
Little Kettle Creek, PA: 41.553612, -77.706108
Long Run (2), PA: 41.561111, -77.680557
Sawmill Run, PA: 41.552776, -77.708336
Sliders Branch, PA: 41.615002, -77.603058
Trout Run, PA: 41.429722, -77.917221
Twomile Run, PA: 41.336388, -77.855278
KETTLE CREEK AT CROSS FORK, PA: 41.475899, -77.825825
Kettle Creek - Flat Area: 41.437563, -77.895358
Kettle Creek Adventures Bed and Breakfast: 41.507000, -77.758300
Kettle Creek (Flat Stretch Parking): 41.436970, -77.896070
Kettle Creek (Kettle Creek Rd. Parking): 41.461087, -77.867443
Kettle Creek (Cross Fork Creek Parking): 41.494628, -77.820025
Kettle Creek (Kettle Creek Rd. Parking 2): 41.483514, -77.807853
Kettle Creek (Point 6): 41.495990, -77.796062
Kettle Creek (Bridge Area Parking): 41.499759, -77.770988
Kettle Creek (Osborne Rd. Parking): 41.500575, -77.768934
Kettle Creek (Good Stretch): 41.503532, -77.768531
Kettle Creek (Pine Tree Hollow): 41.510779, -77.762389
Kettle Creek (Ole Bull Rd. Parking): 41.525600, -77.731469
Kettle Creek Tackle - Fly Shop: 41.443648, -77.889268
Black Forrest Inn: 41.496700, -77.582600
Little Kettle Creek (Rt 44 Bridge): 41.624909, -77.717713
Little Kettle Creek (Pine Hill Road): 41.565243, -77.701599
Kettle Creek (Rt 144 Bridge): 41.552958, -77.704480
Kettle Creek (Ole Bull State Park): 41.538574, -77.716100
Hammersley Fork: 41.475764, -77.877815
Kettle Creek (Kettle Creek State Park): 41.376531, -77.928242
Kettle Creek (Lower Rt 144 Bridge): 41.499719, -77.771022

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Class A Wild Trout Streams in Kettle Creek Watershed

Class A Wild Trout streams abound in the Kettle Creek watershed and are a testament to the exceptional water quality in the area.  These streams contain a mix of wild brook and brown trout and are a blast to explore.  Class A tributaries to Kettle Creek are listed below.  Use the search function of the interactive map above to locate each stream.

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Header
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Billings Branch

Long Run

Hammersley Fork

Sliders Branch

Little Kettle Creek

Trout Run

Germania Branch

Sawmill Run

Beaverdam Run

Indian Run

Cross Fork

Twomile Run

Best Spots to Fish Kettle Creek

To fish the headwaters for wild brook trout, take SR3001 to get the closest access to the creek. For anglers looking to land some wild browns, take 44 East out of Oleana. It’s also called Pine Hill Road, and it crosses Kettle Creek not too far outside of town.

Browns and brooks are plentiful here, and the hatches are usually excellent early in the season. Downstream of the confluence with Little Kettle Creek the stream effectively doubles in size, and from Little Kettle to Ole Bull Park it’s a combination of fast and slow runs with plenty of fast rifles.

The good folks from Project Healing Waters help some vets hookup with some nice fish on Kettle Creek

Looking to make the most of the CRFFO section? Head south from Ole Bull State Park on Rt 144 to the next bridge for some colder pools and slow runs.  The CRFFO section receives less pressure than the general regulation section, especially as you get further from the parking area at the Rt 144 bridge.

Be sure to check the confluence of Hammersley Fork and south to Kettle Creek Reservoir, as this has some of the best variety of fast and slow moving sections to keep the action fast and furious or slower and more relaxed as suits your fancy.

Match your technique and flies to the water and hatches, and you will not leave Kettle Creek disappointed.

Kettle Creek Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Kettle Creek.  The USGS stream gauge near the confluence with Cross Fork provides a good indication of current conditions. The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days.  If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.  That's not to say you can't catch fish, you may just have to work a little harder.

Kettle Creek at Cross Fork, PA

  • Water Temp: 66.02 ° F
  • Flow: 38.7 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 0.60 ft
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USGS

Best Time to Fish Kettle Creek

Trout season on Kettle Creek seems to have a great hatch during each month, so if you visit from April to August you should find the fish to be in their typical big hatch feeding frenzy.

You can fish certain sections of the creek year round, but the best season to be there is spring and early summer.

Keep in mind that summer is also going to be peak angler season, and you may see some stiff competition for parking and space along the banks if you do visit during one of the larger hatches.

So long as you plan ahead and come prepared to hike a short way to find your own water, you should do just fine regardless.

Kettle Creek Hatches and Flies

As for flies, here’s a list of hatches by month:

March- April: Little Black Early Stoneflies, BWOs, Blue Quills, Quill Gordons

May-June: Hendrickson, Red Quill, American March Browns, BWOs, Sulphurs, Light Cahills, Pale Evening Duns, Brown Drakes, Green Drakes, Slate Drakes, Caddisflies (spotted sedge, cinnamon sedge, green sedge)

July-August: Same as May-June, usually mid-month to mid-month

All Season: Midges

Gearing Up To Fish Kettle Creek

Pack your 9-foot rod rigged with a 4- to 5-weight line and a 9 foot leader w/4-6x tippet. Bug spray is a must, as the mosquito population can get thick in the late summer and early spring. Sections of Kettle Creek can be waded, but some banks are less than stable, particularly after spring thaw or heavy rain. Pack breathable waders, as the summer heat and humidity even in the northern central region of PA can be extremely dense. 

Kettle Creek Fishing Reports

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

Kettle Creek Fishing Regulations

Kettle Creek is managed under Pennsylvania Boat and Fishing Commission (PFBC) general fishing regulations.  A 1.7 miles section (from a sign located 500 feet downstream of the SR 0144 Bridge to a sign located 1.7 miles upstream of the lower boundary) is managed as Catch-and-Release - Fly Fishing Only which is open year-round.

Trip Planning Tips

State College has the closest airport, unless you prefer to make the long drive from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Allentown.

You can find traditional accommodations near State College, Oleana and Salamanca to suit your taste and budget (Fairfield Inn, Wyndham, etc.). You can also try the Kettle Creek Lodge and Cabins right on Pine Hill Road, just a short hike from Kettle Creek itself. 

The rates are extremely reasonable for the budget minded angler or hunter, and bookings are highly sought after during peak fishing season in the summer.

Worst come to worst, you can always hit the RV parks and campgrounds in the area and rough it for the course of your stay.

Be sure to give local vacation rentals a look as well; many private and local listings offer real bargains depending on the timing of your trip.

Feature Image by Nicholas Tonelli

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About the Author Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.