If you’re into fly fishing, you’ve likely heard of the great steelhead found in Pennsylvania and throughout the Great Lakes region. There are many adventures to be had and this area is ripe with guides to assist you along the way. What if you don’t want a guide, though?
Whether you’re looking to plan a fly fishing excursion on a budget or you just want the privacy of doing the trip alone, that’s always an option. This guide will help you learn all about Twenty Mile Creek so that you can create the perfect adventure, no matter what you have in mind.
Fly fishing for steelhead on Twentymile Creek in Pennsylvania
Twenty Mile Creek is the largest of the eastern creeks and one of the most popular in the miles of creeks offered in the Pennsylvania portion of Steelhead Alley. The creek averages 20 to 30 feet in width in the lower reaches and is characterized by a mix of boulders, slate, broken shale and gravel. It starts almost due north of Exit 45 on I-90 and passes through the picturesque grape-growing region that North East Township is known for.
The unique thing about Twenty Mile Creek is that most of the fishing access is on private property and by permission of the property owners. They are generally more than willing to be accommodating, but you should be mindful to be courteous and ask. Fly fishing in this creek offers plenty of opportunities throughout, so long as you have permission.
You’ll find great steelhead fishing in this creek, along with brown trout and the occasional warm water straggler. The creek runs low in some areas and high in others, so it’s important to check water levels before you hit the stream so that you don’t find yourself fishing in a puddle.
Twentymile Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
The steelhead here are a bit smaller than average, but there are plenty of them. As with most of the creeks in the region, the best catches will come as the water levels rise, with fall to spring being the most popular time for landing the best catch. Only the last four miles of this creek are located in Pennsylvania, so make sure that you’re paying attention to where you’re at as fishing regulations might vary in New York.
Because this creek is stocked, most anglers will do well with simple flies. The fish aren’t as picky early in the season, but you might have to get creative later on. Whether you’re working your way up to it or starting with the best, Twenty Mile Creek is a great choice.
Best Places to Fish Twentymile Creek
There is no vehicle access at the mouth of the creek, which is found just about a mile west of the state border with New York. You will find vehicle access along Route 5, where you can park near the bridge and find a path down to the creek. Access is only available on the west bank here.
There is a wider, slow-moving area at the mouth, and upstream from there, you’ll find a section of runs and riffles with pools that have good holding water. If you keep heading upstream, you’ll find a sizable pool just below the waterfall and the iron bridge. Unfortunately, this is mostly private property and you may not be able to fish here.
At the intersection of Middle Road and Hirtzel Road, you’ll find a path leading to Twenty Mile Creek, and right north of the freeway, you’ll find Hirtzel Pond, which is also stocked with trout. Limited parking is available here. Stinson Road at Gay Road offers another access point, with posted signs for parking and walk-in fishing.
Gulf Road, located just south of Route 20 near the railroad underpass, is a good access point because it’s close to a pool, and this is where you’ll find the “snake hole” that was once a popular spot.
Best Time to Fish Twentymile Creek
As with all trout fishing in the New York and Pennsylvania region, the season runs from early fall until late spring, with steelhead showing up during September at the mouth and growing in number into October. By late October, the creek will be ripe with fish in many areas.
Steelhead remain plentiful until the end of April, and perhaps even into May during cooler years. However, in the summer months, the water is too warm and the levels are much too low to find any fish. The best time to plan a trip here is between October and April, although January and February might prove to present their own challenges.
Follow the hatches in the spring for the best fishing, including midges and caddisflies. Aquatic insects can be a good indicator of whether you might find good fishing in a particular area during the spring months, so take that into account.
If you go during the fall and spring when the season is in full swing, you’ll often find crowds at many of the best locations. Prepare for that, or try to plan to go at a slower time to avoid it.
Best Flies for Twentymile Creek
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Twentymile 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-wt fly rod with a weight-forward floating line is perfect for fishing nymphs and small streamers on Twentymile Creek.
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
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.
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Twentymile Creek Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Twentymile Creek fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:
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
Twenty Mile Creek is located closest to the airport in Erie, but also conveniently accessible to Buffalo, New York. Visitors can fly into either city and travel by car to access the creek. If you’re driving, follow I-90 to the exit at the state line and you’ll be right there.
Since you’re near Erie and several major freeways and routes, you’ll have no trouble finding lodging and dining during your stay. You might even check out some local bait and fly fishing shops in the area to stock up on gear since you saved money by planning your own trip.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania
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