Trip Report Spring Creek, Centre County, PA

Visited Pennsylvania’s famed Spring Creek on Monday April 12, 2009. It was a good trip. The first place we hit was the former McCoy Dam location just downstream of Bellefonte, PA. Prior to the removal of this 12-ft high dam in September of 2007, there had been a dam in this location for over 200 years. The removal of the dam restored approximately 1/2 mile of stream to its natural condition. The removal will allow for more natural movement of trout up and downstream and importantly, for fly-fishers, it allows us to fish for trout in a “new” section of stream.


The “Old Ranger” checks out the former McCoy Dam Location on Spring Creek

The Pennsylvania Fish Commission has already evaluated the effect of the dam removal by conducting post dam-removal electro-fishing surveys and comparing the results to pre-removal electro-fishing results.

From the PA Fish Commission
Wild Brown Trout Surveys and Monitoring – An important component of the project has been monitoring changes in the wild brown trout populations before and after dam removal in both treatment and control reaches. With the help of partners, PFBC staff conducted electrofishing surveys at the dam removal site in July 2007 before the dam was removed and again in July 2008 one year after removal. Crews also sampled upstream and downstream control reaches in both 2007 and 2008. Similar to other dam removal projects where monitoring has occurred, trout populations are responding positively to the improved habitat, with biomass (weight of trout per surface area) showing about a threefold increase following dam removal

The full report can be found at Fish Commision website site: (click HERE for the report).


The Water Directly Upstream of the Former McCoy Dam

The water directly upstream of the former dam location is tough water to fish at this time of year. The channel is not wide at this point but it is fairly deep and the water is a torrent. The stream is maybe 30-ft wide and averages 2 to 3 feet deep through this section. It is great holding water full of rocks of all sizes that provide great lies for the fish. That said, it is tough to fish because of the swift current.   It is great water to employ the ever-popular Czech Nymphing or High-Stick Nymphing techniques.

I nymphed upstream for about 50-yds and picked up 4 fish. Two were on the Walt’s Worm (size 10) and two were on the Pass Lake Wet Fly (size 12). All fish were caught on the dead-drift.

Pass Lake Wet Fly

Pass Lake Wet Fly

The Pass Lake is fast becoming a favorite pattern of mine. Spring Creek fish are 100% wild, and to fool two within a few minutes blind with a Pass Lake, puts a stamp of approval on the fly for me. Of course I’ll probably try it again next time and catch nothing on it. Check out my recipe for the Pass Lake HERE.  There wasn’t any surface action in the area to speak of – so in hopes of finding some rising fish we moved on to a different spot.

Nice Brownie on a Walt's Worm

Nice Brownie on a Walt’s Worm

We headed to the section of Spring Creek along Spring Creek Road not far upstream from the Rt. 550 Bridge.  Blue-Winged-Olives were still hatching – in the late afternoon.  Quite a few fish were rising in the pools.  We didn’t have much luck though.  I managed two on a BWO Barr Emerger – but they must have been the flunkies.  The other fish rising were not interested in my offerings.  Maybe my casting is a bit rusty from the winter too.  So if you plan to get there soon be prepared for size 18 BWO’s.

BWO Barr Emerger (Click pic for Recipe)

BWO Barr Emerger (Click pic for Recipe)

what say you?