Pennsylvania’s Appalachian mountain chain forms a network of tributaries that feed the great Chesapeake Bay, Allegheny, and the Ohio river systems. This network of connecting streams, creeks and rivers is like a gigantic root system and within this network, if you know where to look, you can find some of the best trout fishing Pennsylvania has to offer.
How To Find The Best Trout Streams In Pennsylvania? Today’s technology has made finding streams to explore easy. With cell phones and laptops, finding the best trout fishing in Pennsylvania or any state only takes a little Google research and a map. Google up a website and you can learning almost anything you want about a given stream, it’s location and what it has to offer.
To find the best trout streams in Pennsylvania still requires doing a little research, but in today’s world, that’s easy. But even though we can Google up just about anything these days, having a process will make the research easier narrowing down exactly which streams to put on your list. Let’s walk through a scenario together and I’ll show how I go about finding a good trout stream.
Where Is The Best Place To Start?
The place to start hasn’t changed since my earliest days of trout fishing. It makes logical sense too because wherever you fish you will need to buy a fishing license. Each state has its equivalent governing body with jurisdiction over the rules and regulations of where it is legal to fish. In Pennsylvania, that body is Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Visiting their website not only provides the rules and regulations but helpful information about streams. Their best resource for our purposes, their interactive map.
Let’s say we are interested in finding a trout stream in Potter County, Pennsylvania, for example. Breakout your trusty computer or smartphone, and bring up The Pa Fish and Boat commission’s website. On the dropdown menu of the homepage, hover over the label called “Locate” and under that, click on “Trout Streams”. This opens the interactive map.
This map shows the state of Pennsylvania in a topographical view. On the left side of the map is the layers menu. Selecting each of these reveals a layer of “colored” streams on the map. On the right side of the map is a definitions window
So for our example, we want to find a Fly Fishing Only stream in Potter County. Select “Special Regulation” streams on the left side menu. All of the Special Regulation streams in the state are blue. Next, zoom the map to Potter county and click on a blue line. A dialog box opens detailing information about the stream. You’ll see a description of that stream’s regulations, the length of the designated section, a description of the stocking schedule and a general directions map. After a few clicks on a few of the “blue lines (streams) bingo, there we have it, a small stretch of Kettle creek that is fly fishing only. Cool!
Wondering What The Creek Looks Like?
Next, click on the “General Directions to Lower Limit of Section” label to open another map showing the lower section of the regulated section. This is where I “go for my walk”, so to speak. Click on the satellite view and you can quickly get a look at the stream; how accessible it is, it’s size, and how near or far it is from the road. On my laptop, I can drag the map and virtually go for a walk up the stream.
Further examination reveals fast water areas and possible deeper pools. You can begin to imagine where the likely spots may be holding trout. The other “little secret” for me is, how close to the road is a section of the stream. (Remember if the state stocks these streams those guys don’t like walking any farther than they have too to put fish in the streams.)
So as you can see, we were easily able to find a trout stream that fits our need. We were able to find it in the county we choose, read descriptive information and view what that stream looks like, all by using our computer or cell phone. But we’re not done yet, oh no.
How To Learn More About A Creek.
We don’t have to depend solely on the commissions’ site, nope, the internet can take us deeper into our research. All one has to do is look up the stream itself. For example, let’s put into Google’s search engine “Kettle Creek’s catch release section”. Here is an example of some of the topics from the first page results.
From the first page results, I was able to get the following valuable information which will help me decide whether a trip to Kettle Creek is in my near future.
- Best Spots to Fish Kettle Creek
- Best Time to Fish Kettle
- Kettle Creek Flow and Current Conditions
- Kettle Creek Hatches and Flies
- Trip Planning Tips
- Gearing Up
- Class A Wild Trout Streams in the Kettle Creek Water Shed
As you can begin to see, the kind of information we’re looking for is readily available. Sites that explain the insect life that inhabits the streams, the hatches, when they occur, and what are the prolific hatches. They may suggest the best patterns to use, size, color, and so forth to match the hatches. All of this is really valuable for determining whether a venture to the stream will be worth it. Some of the websites may be may contain a lot of details about the streams beyond their current insect makeup. They might give you some historical background like when the area was settled, who settled the area, of industries that may have existed in the past, along with the hatch information.
What Other Things I Should Look For?
Personally, I like to fish streams that are in remote areas when I can. Areas that may not receive as much fishing pressure. Starting with the map I can quickly determine a stream’s remoteness. Next, I search for things nearby, especially camping accessibility, the distance to the nearest store, gas station. If I’m considering an extended stay maybe cabin rentals or motels and restaurants. Basically the things you may need for an extended stay.
But the most important of all these things is the nearest fly shop. Fly shops are able to help you by providing information about the streams in their area. They report up-to-date stream conditions, hatching patterns, what to match, and at that time of the year. Nothing beats face-to-face conversation with a local, along with a chance to pick up last-minute needed supplies.
How To Visit The Creek Without Going There.
If you need more information to help you decide whether a particular stream is one to visit then head over to YouTube (well of course!). YouTube is another tool to help you get a feel for a stream you’d like to fish without actually visiting the stream. There is always someone who has posted a video on a subject you want to see, believe me.
On YouTube, search for “Fly Fishing Kettle Creek Pennsylvania”. These videos are freely offered by guys and gals who simply enjoy sharing their experiences with you and are a good resource for learning about the stream of choice. Additionally, you see what size fish can be caught, what offering people are using, what time of year they are fishing and the condition for that time of year, and a host of additional helpful information.
What Is Blue Lining?
Blue Lining is a term used for a form of finding remote, out-of-the-way places, to catch native and /or wild trout. It is a favorite pastime among Appalachian and Pennsylvanian fly fishermen. To my knowledge, it derives its name by following the same process we have just gone through. The “blue lining” refers to the blue lines on the map to help find these remote streams. The popularity of “blue lining” centers around finding secluded, hopefully, untouched streams where the fish are wild, often untouched, and very abundant. And it all starts by reading the map, cool right?
So as you can see, finding the best trout streams in Pennsylvania isn’t too hard, but to make it a great trout stream you’ll need to fish it, catch trout and enjoy the experience to the point you’ll want to return.
Today, doing this kind of research is a piece of cake compared to my younger days. Back then, you bought a fishing license, got handed a regulation booklet, and among the many pages would be listed the streams that were stocked with trout by the fish commission’s trout stocking program. To find good trout streams, you’d buy a map of Pa, spread it out on the kitchen table, and then try and find the stream that you looked up using the Pennsylvania fishing digest. Once you found the stream on the map, mark it with a yellow highlighter because we didn’t have a GPS in those days either. That map was your only source for finding that stream. When I look back it was quite the adventure because we never knew until we showed up on the stream what we were in for. I kind of miss those days.
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How Many Trout Are Stocked In PA?
Approximately 6,500 large trout are distributed throughout Pa streams. Trout are stocked at a rate of 175 to 225 per mile of stream, which is comparable to the numbers of similarly sized fish in Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters.
Can I Trout Fish At Night in PA?
Night fishing is an age-old pastime in Pennsylvania. Some of the best opportunities for catching huge browns happen at night. Dark, moonless nights, often referred to as “tap, tap nights” were so named from the tapping sound made with a walking cane or stick as you tap your way along the creek banks.