Destinations: I doubt that many of you will be traveling to and fishing the Smokies to fish this month although I hope you do. January and the first part of February are probably the coldest times of the year and you will have to pick out the better days to expect much success fishing the freestone streams. By the end of February, everyone will be doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and the trout to respond even though they will probably have to wait a few more days to see any surface action. That considered, I thought I would write about some fishing trips we have made to various other destinations. Don't expect these articles to win any awards, just tell you about some things I hope you will find interesting and a few that I look back on with a gleam in my eye.
Fly Fishing Big Spring Creek, Pennsylvania
The Southeastern section of the state of Pennsylvania has some beautiful limestone spring creeks that provide some very good trout fishing opportunities. There are many, some popular and some rarely heard of. One of the most famous ones is Big Spring Creek located near the little town of Newville. This is the 5th largest spring in Pennsylvania. This spring was a popular place for brook trout fishing during the eighteenth century. It had not only had huge wild brook trout, there were lots of them. The little town had several hotels and was served by the Cumberland Valley Railroad out of Harrisburg. From what I read about it, it was a very popular stream in early American trout fishing.
Angie and I have fished the stream on three occasions. The first time was in 2003, again in 2004 and the last time was 2007. We have always been able to catch some trout, but most of them were stocked. A few were wild trout. Other than its wild and stocked trout, from 1972 until 2003, it had its own state fish hatchery at the head of the stream. From what I read, the hatchery caused many problems. I cannot imagine what the thinking was behind ever putting a hatchery on such a beautiful spring. I can see where it was advantageous from several standpoints from a fish raising standpoint, I just can't imagine why anyone would want to ruin such a nice stream. I guess that shows what government regulation can do for you. The effluents from the hatchery destroyed the wild trout population that made the stream famous.
Big Spring Creek now has 350 pounds of brook trout per acre. Some of the brook trout grow to large sizes. Some have been measured upwards to 20 inches. They act completely different from our wild stream trout in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Big Springs brook trout are not easy to catch at all. The state still stocks both rainbow and brown trout in some sections of the stream. The brown trout reproduce to some extent. I might mention that the stream is also fed by some smaller springs downstream of the large one that forms it. This helps keep the water cool for its entire length.
It is worth your time to visit this stream to see its beauty and large fish, even if you don't fish it. I suggest that you do give it a try. The two larger fish that we have caught there almost came as a surprise. Playing around at Big Springs Creek has helped us develop our new "Perfect Fly" scud that we will be introducing within a few days.