Fly fishing is a great pastime and in the region known as Steelhead Alley, it can be even more of an adventure than you might think. If you’re short on cash, or just not willing to shell it out for a guided trip, consider planning your own. With our help, you’ll be ready in no time.
To plan your own fly fishing trip, you just need to know where to go, when you should go, and what to use when you get there. Fortunately, we’ve done all the hard work for you. From where to park to what to pack, it’s all in this guide.
Read on to get started planning your own Sixteenmile Creek fly fishing adventure.
Fly fishing for steelhead on Sixteenmile Creek in Pennsylvania
As one of the many tributaries flowing to Lake Erie that are simply named for their distance from the Erie area south of Route 5, Sixteen-mile Creek offers some great steelhead fishing when the water levels are high enough and the weather conditions are right. This is not an approved trout stream, however, so that’s important to note.
This is the second-largest of the family of creeks east of Erie, emptying directly into the lake at the north end of State Route 89. Although not an approved stream, it still sees plenty of traffic from fly fishermen looking to explore every possible nook and cranny in Steelhead Alley.
Sixteen Mile Creek runs right along Freeport Road, across Route 5, down along North Mill Street, and then out toward Cemetery Road before curving back east and passing the railroad tracks. Below that is where you’ll find Halli Reid Park with ample parking and downstream access.
While this creek isn’t as notorious as nearby Twentymile Creek it's almost always fishable and clears very quickly after a storm. It also remains relative free of ice through out the winter thanks to warm water discharge from an upstream wastewater treatment plant.
The "miles" creeks are some of the most popular in the region, with each having its own pros and cons. Rather than planning separate trips to explore them all, it’s suggested that you take a longer hiatus and explore at least 3 or 4 of them at a time for a well-rounded experience with fly fishing in the popular Steelhead Alley region.
Keep reading to learn exactly where to go to and when you should consider visiting.
Sixteen Mile Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish Sixteen Mile Creek
The creek has a few different options for access. Halli Reid Park offers plenty of parking for public access right at the mouth. Here, you’ll find deep, slow-moving waters where you can get catch some nice fish early in the season.
A few hundred yards upstream of the mouth you’ll come to a waterfall that generally stops the majority of the fish. Coho salmon, which are occasionally found here, can make it beyond the falls. Some other fish do, as well.
For those who do decide to fish below the falls in the lower parts of Sixteen Mile Creek, there’s a parking area near the sewer plant on North Mill Street. This allows anglers to access most areas downstream.
Heading south toward Route 5 you’ll find the next best fishing area. Right upstream from the bridge and the tavern, there’s a good pool with parking and access on nearby Curtis Road. Fish usually only make it this far during periods of high water however.
You may find ample fishing in other areas of the stream if you’re willing to do some exploring on foot. However, the areas discussed here are generally going to be your best choice.
Best Time to Fish Sixteen Mile Creek
As with most steelhead streams, the late fall and winter months are the absolute best for catches. You’ll find the runs starting around mid-to-late October and they’ll remain steady until spring. There may be some inclement weather or extra cold days in January and February, so be careful planning then.
You will also find trout in the stream from early fall until late spring, including some browns that are both wild and stocked. During the summer, the water levels are generally far too low for any good fly fishing.
The good news about Sixteen Mile Creek is that while it is smaller, it’s got the benefit of the warm water discharge on the lower areas of the stream, which means there may still be steelhead long after other tributaries have iced over. Of course, you’ll trade the extra access for the occasional foul odor from the plant at certain times.
Best Flies for Sixteen Mile Creek
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Sixteen Mile Creek:
- Glo Bug (#8 - 16)
- Sucker Spawn (#8 - 12)
- Nuclear Roe (#10 - 16)
- Black Stonefly (#12 -18)
- Brown Stonefly (#12 -14)
- Hare's Ear (#10 - 12)
- Woolly Bugger (#6 - 10)
- Muddler Minnow (#6 - 10)
- Pink Panther (#6 - 10)
- White Bunny Spey (#6 - 10)
- Pot Bellied Pig
- M.C. Hammer (#4)
- Spawntruder (#4)
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.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- 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)
A single-hand 10-foot, 6- or 7-wt fly rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing nymphs and small streamers on Sixteen Mile Creek.
Similar weight switch rods 10 and 11.5 feet in length are also popular. If you like to swing flies, a 12-foot-6, 6- or 7-weight rod is all you need.
A 9- to 14-foot leader, tapered down to 10- or 8-pound-test is pretty standard. In super clear water conditions you may need to taper down to 6-pound-test.
A standard leader configuration for use with a floating or intermediate line is:
- 2 feet, 25-lb monofilament (mono)
- 2 feet, 20-lb mono
- 2 feet, 15-lb mono
- 2 feet, 12-lb fluorocarbon (fluoro)
- 2 feet, 10-lb fluoro
- 2 feet, 8-lb fluoro
A standard heavy sink-tip leader is:
- 2- to 5-feet straight 15-pound Maxima
- 2-feet straight 12-pound Maxima
Sixteen Mile Creek Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Sixteen Mile Creek fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:
Fishing on 16-mile creek follows special regulations for all Lake Erie tributaries. Make sure that you know the regulations of all of the creeks before you plan your trip.
The state of Pennsylvania requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.
You can purchase a Pennsylvania state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.
Trip Planning Tips
Sixteen Mile Creek runs in and around Erie, so it’s accessible to plenty of dining and accommodations. You’ll also be right near US Route 20, Route 5, and Route 89, making it easy to get to the creek.
There’s a small airport in Erie for those flying in, but most will come through Buffalo-Niagara airport. Keep a map of the river when navigating through town, although signs aren’t hard to come by. Be sure only to park in approved areas or you could risk being towed.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania
Feature image by Wooly Bugged