Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Slippery Rock Creek in Northwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

Slippery Rock Creek in Pennsylvania

Slippery Rock Creek is one of the most popular trout streams in northwest Pennsylvania but is dangerous. 

Every year, people lose their lives in its waters. As the name indicates, its rocks are deceptively slippery and create hazardous currents. If you’re careful, the Creek can yield plenty of trout and smallmouth bass to the talented angler.

Be sure to check out the rest of our guide to stay safe while enjoying this alluring fishery.

About Slippery Rock Creek

Fly fishing Slippery Rock Creek in northwest Pennsylvania

Slippery Rock Creek is a 50-mile tributary of Connoquenessing Creek in Northwest Pennsylvania. Its source is found in Hilliards in Butler County and joins Connoquenessing in Ellwood City. 

The Creek flows through McConnells Mill State Park. It is fed by many tributaries, with the most notable being Seaton Creek, Blacks Creek, and Hell Run. If you are feeling extra adventurous, Hell Run has Class A Waters with an excellent population of wild brown trout.

Access to Hell Run, however, is difficult. It requires following the trails found near the parking area on Shaffer Road or hiking from the bridge on Mountville Road. This is a very strenuous hike, make sure you are in good shape before you attempt it!

The Creek is very popular with paddlers and whitewater rafters. It is also known for early-season trout fishing and its smallmouth bass population, which range from 9 to 16 inches. 

Besides the dangerous conditions, Slippery Rock has another drawback as an angling location. The Creek flows through agricultural land, making the water muddy quickly after rains. Keep an eye on weather conditions leading up to your trip so you can ensure good fishing when you get there.

Slippery Rock Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Slippery Rock Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Slippery Rock Creek

For ease of approach, it is recommended that you use a canoe or kayak, as road access is limited. Good launching areas include the Studebaker Road and Stoughton Road public access points. You can pull out at the bridge on Old Butler Road near Rose Point Park. 

The Creek widens downstream from the gorge and is about 80 to 100 feet wide in places. Here, you’ll find warm-water species like smallmouth bass, musky, and walleye.

Three areas of the stream are stocked with trout. The 15-mile section from Slippery Rock Road to the property line of Heinz Camp has one preseason stocking and two in-season stockings. The half-mile section from Heinz Camp to the area below the State Route 2022 Bridge is Catch-and-Release Fly-Fishing Only. 

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before fishing. The USGS stream gauge near Wurtemburg, 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 ma not be ideal.

Slippery Rock Creek at Wurtemburg, PA

  • Streamflow: 580 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.26 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Slippery Rock Creek

Spring is the best time to visit for trout fishing. By late June, the stream temperature is too warm to support trout, so they seek refuge in cooler tributaries. Fishing for smallmouth bass is excellent throughout the summer.

The Creek has a decent aquatic insect population. You will find Quill Gordons, Blue-Winged Olives, and Light Cahills in the spring. Caddis are more prevalent than mayflies and are a staple food source for trout and bass.

August supports a prolific White Fly hatch that provides hot top-water action for smallmouth bass.

Best Flies for Slippery Rock Creek

Here is a list of recommended fly patterns for Slippery Rock Creek.

  • Little Blue Winged Olive (#16-20)
  • Blue Quill (#16-18)
  • Quill Gordon (#12-14)
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • Blue Winged Olive (#14-18)
  • Slate Drake (#12-14)
  • White Fly (#10-14)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Slippery Rock Creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Slippery Rock Creek Fishing Reports

No area fly shops or guides (that I know of) publish Slippery Rock Creek fly fishing reports. 

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 Slippery Rock Creek is Pittsburgh International Airport, which is about an hour away. You can also travel to Erie International Airport. You can also travel to any major or municipal airport in Western Pennsylvania and arrive at the stream after a couple of hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for campgrounds in the area, Slippery Rock Campground offers proximity to the Creek. If you would rather have a roof over your head, Motel 6 Barkeyville has reasonable rates and laundry facilities. 

If you are careful, fishing at Slippery Rock Creek can be a wonderful angling experience. 

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

Feature Image by Merrilove