100 Best: Spring Creek
Location: Northcentral Pennsylvania
Type of stream: Freestone
Angling methods: Fly, Spin
Species: Wild browns, very few rainbows
Season: All year
Supporting Services: State College
Short take: Greatest turnabout stream in the Keystone State
Handicapped Access: None
Closest Chapter: State College
Spring Creek rises in the town of Lamont and flows for 22 miles to its junction with Bald Eagle Creek just below Milesburg. Fed by a multitude of springs, including a monster at Bellefonte, this is one stream that actually gets colder as it flows downstream. Historically Spring Creek was highly regarded as a brook trout stream. And in 1934, the section known today as Fisherman’s Paradise was set aside for barbless fly fishing only, one of the first such sections in the country. Stocked with large trout, it became a favorite destination for anglers.
Industrialization, growth of communities along its course, and sewage pollution took its toll.
Angling began to fall off in 1952. The state kept the special regs on, but trophy trout were no longer stocked. In 1981, noticing an increase of wild browns, the state ceased to plant trout. From April to June 2006, Fisherman’s Paradise attracted 34 times as many anglers than any of Pennsylvania’s trout streams. Since the early 1980s, a host of partners including the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, has mounted a concerted and successful effort to restore Spring Creek.
Today Spring Creek offers 13 miles of prime riffles, pools, and pocket water. The upper 10 miles are easy to wade. In this section the river is seldom more than thigh or waist deep. Below the big springs near Bellefonte, the river deepens, but not so much that it becomes totally unwadeable. From the Boalsburg Road bridge upstream from Lamont down to its mouth, Spring Creek is managed as artificials only, catch and release fishing. Below Bellefonte, Spring Creek shows signs of growing maturity. The pools and pockets are deeper. Anglers prospecting for larger wild browns do well fishing dark olive sculpins in the weeks before the spawn.