Penns Creek & Other Musings
By Larry Forte
One of my first experiences fly-fishing was on Penns Creek in central Pennsylvania. That was 16 years ago when my friend Todd, who first taught me to fly-fish, invited me to fish the stream as an introduction to the sport. It was a great weekend. While I did not catch any fish, I was hooked on the stream. I have been going back to Penns, which is what the locals call it, every year since my first trip.
Some background information on the stream. Penns Creek is a 67.1 mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River and is about a 45 minute drive East from State College, PA. The stream is known for its famous Green Drake hatch in late May / early June and it offers some of the most amazing dry fly fishing I have ever experienced, including some famous rivers out West.
A couple of weeks ago, I made my annual trip to Penns and it did not disappoint. While I missed the Green Drake hatch by a couple of days, there was still plenty of bug activity to frustrate you.
The Brown Trout in Penns are very picky and will ignore your fly if the drift is not perfect or the pattern is a little off. But, that’s all part of the fun. When the bugs are hatching and the Browns are feeding, many days you can stand in 1 spot and cast to 6-8 different rising fish. At dusk, it can be a feeding frenzy on the stream.
One the second day of our trip, I was fishing in the morning to several rising fish. Multiple bugs were hatching: Sulphur’s, Blue Wing Olives (BWO), Midges, Light Cahills, Yellows Sallies, a few Green Drakes and Caddis flies. The challenge, as always, is trying to determine what are they taking? For well over an hour, I was changing flies every 5 – 10 minutes with the same results – no fish.
Finally, I tried a size #16 BWO Spinner, and that was the magic fly. For the next 20 minutes, I caught 5 beautiful Browns, the biggest a fat 14” Brown. All of a sudden, my magic fly lost its special powers and all of the fish in the stream stopped feeding. I was OK with that because for 20 minutes, I was having a blast!
If you have never fished Penns, I highly recommend it. The stream is about a 3 hour drive from Frederick. One of the great things about Penns is that there is plenty of public access to the stream. You can camp at the Poe Paddy State Park or you can stay at the “Featherred Hook”, a B&B in Coburn, a short walk to Penns. Poe Paddy State Park has a camp ground right on the stream. Before the stream merges with Elk Creek, the stream is stocked with Rainbows. However, below the town of Coburn, Penns is not stocked because it has a very healthy population of Brown Trout.
If you would like more information about Penns, just let me know.
To wrap up this column, I hope everyone has a
great Summer. Our next monthly meeting will be on Tuesday, September 11th, at Tuscarora High School, room A170 at 7:00 PM
Finally, if there is anything you would like to see improved with our Club or if you are interested in getting more involved with the PVFF, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Plus, you are always welcome to join us at our monthly Board of Directors’ Meeting. Thank you for being part of this Club. See you in September!