You might not expect a fishery named Oil Creek to be the most scenic stream, but don’t judge a book by its cover, or, in this case, a creek by its title! Oil Creek is not only a lovely stream, but also provides an abundance of trout and an excellent aquatic insect population.
Whether you are a beginner just getting your waders wet, or an experienced angler searching for the best Pennsylvania trout streams, Oil Creek has something to offer you. Take a look at our guide so you will know the best way to handle the wily trout of Oil Creek.
Fly fishing Oil Creek in northwest Pennsylvania
Oil Creek is a 46.7 mile long tributary of the Allegheny River, located in Venango and Crawford counties in Pennsylvania. The stream is large, and in some places is close to 100 feet in width. Its drainage area is about 319 square miles. The Creek joins the Allegheny River at Oil City. Its unique name comes from the oil that could be found along its banks, before the famous oil strike in Titusville, led by Edwin Drake. The stream is popular with canoeists and kayakers and flows through Oil Creek State Park. It is joined by its tributary, Pine Creek, above the State Park.
The Creek has two delayed harvest sections, which are generally the most popular areas to fly fish. At Oil Creek, you’ll find holdover and stocked brown, rainbow, and brook trout. You will also find smallmouth bass in the stream.
Oil Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Click map icons to get directions to fishing spots and real-time USGS stream flow data
Best Spots to Fish Oil Creek
The first Delayed Harvest section flows from the Drake Well Museum downstream to the Oil Creek State Park hiking trail bridge. This section is about one mile in length. The other Delayed Harvest section is a bit longer, at about 1.6 miles long. This area starts at the bridge from Petroleum Center downstream to the railroad bridge at Columbia Farm.
The best place to fish Oil Creek is below Pine Creek, downstream to the Allegheny River. This area covers both Delayed Harvest sections, and is the ideal fly fishing spot, complete with riffles, pools, and runs. The stream is accessible to fly fishermen.
You can access this area from Pennsylvania Route 8. There are bridge access areas in this section, but you will need to take a short hike to get to certain areas.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Oil Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Rouseville, PA 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 may not be ideal.
Oil Creek at Rouseville, PA
- Flow: 43.3 ft³/s
- Water Level: 1.69 ft
Best Time to Fish Oil Creek
The season for Oil Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout season, but the Delayed Harvest sections are open all year. Spring might be the best time to visit due to the aquatic insect hatches, but fall is also an excellent time to tackle Oil Creek.
In the summer, the stream can get too warm for trout fishing, particularly in the upper reaches of the Creek.
Fly Box - What You'll Need
At Oil Creek, you will encounter a variety early season mayflies typical of a Pennsylvania freestone stream but caddis flies are more prevalent. Here is a list of generally recommended fly patterns:
Blue Quill (#16 - 18)
Hendrickson (#12 - 14)
Quill Gordon (#12 - 14)
Red Quill (#12 - 14)
Tan Caddis (#16)
Brown Caddis (#14 - 16)
March Brown (#10 - 12)
Gray Fox (#12 - 14)
Light Cahill (#14 - 16)
Sulphur (#16 - 18)
Terrestrials (various) (#10-18)
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Oil Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Oil Creek Fishing Reports
There are not any area fly shops and guides (that I know of) that regularly publish an Oil Creek fly fishing report.
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.
Oil Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Trip Planning Tips
The nearest major airports to Oil Creek would be Erie International Airport or Pittsburgh International Airport. Smaller airports, such as Venango Regional Airport and Port Meadville Airport, are also nearby options.
If you are looking for lodging options in the area, The Parkside Motel is only about ten minutes away from your destination, and offers reasonable prices for the budget conscious fisherman.
If you would rather stay at a campground, Meadville KOA Campground is a full service campground that boasts plenty of events all year and close proximity to other attractions. There is plenty to keep you and your family busy, if trout fishing doesn’t take up your whole trip itinerary.
Feature Image by VitaleBaby