Angie Marsh fishing Penns Creek
Penns Creek
Copyright 2021 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On Penns Creek In
Penns Creek is one of Pennsylvania's top trout streams. It
starts at the mouth of Penns Cave, where it is a small
spring creek. It flows through beautiful Bush and Penn's
Valley, adding water from several small springs down to the
little town of Coburn where it receives more cold spring
water from Elk and Pine Creeks. This upper section,
approximately thirteen miles long is rated a "B" class water
by the state and receives stocked trout.

The section from Colburn downstream for the next fifteen
miles through the forest of the Seven Mountains. This is
the prime waters of Penns Creek and is rated Class "A" by
the state. Fly fishing Penns Creek in this section is for all
wild trout.

Penns Creek flows out of these hills into Buffalo Valley
where it slows down and warms some. It is again rated as
Class "B" water and stocked trout supplement the wild ones
for the next few miles.

Those fly fishing the creek will find it's a aquatic insect
heaven. It has as many different species and as large of
quantities of insects as any stream we know of or have
taken samples from. It is known for its huge Green Drake
hatch in late May and early June, but that is only one of
many huge hatches that takes place on this fine stream.

Even though the creek is a pure spring creek, it does
receive runoff that adds to the flow along the way and in
many places, small spring inlets. Until you closely examine
the water, especially in the prime, class "A" section of the
stream, you may think it was a freestone stream. It has a
freestone appearance many places. The rocks and
boulders create pocket water, runs, riffles and pools and
makes it easier to fish than many, smooth flowing spring

The trout can be very selective but fly fishing Penns Creek
isn't that difficult as long as you fish an imitation of what
they are eating. To say the least, doing that isn't very easy.
Most of the time there are multiple hatches occurring.
Knowing what to fish and when to fish it frustrates many
anglers to the point they lose patients with what is one of
the better spring creeks in existence.

Although Penns Creek is best known for its Green Drake
mayfly hatch, that only last two or three weeks at best, and
is only one of several great hatches this fine stream has.
Many hatches last much longer and provide far more
opportunities to catch trout than the large Green Drakes. I
don't want to take anything away from the great Green
Drake hatch. I just want to emphasize the other fine fishing
Penns Creek has to offer. One thing I have noticed is that
often during the middle of the Green Drake hatch the trout
seem to be more selective on other mayflies especially at
certain times of the day. Just before dark, for example, I
have seen them feed heavily on Light Cahill spinners. It is
best to not let the Green Drake excitement completely take
over your thinking. You should remain flexible and be
prepared to fish a number of different flies.
Penns Creek Pennsylvania
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Thanks to the stable temperature of the
spring water, fly fishing Penns Creek is
great throughout the season.
Spring is certainly the most popular season
to fish Penns Creek because of its
numerous hatches.
Summer time can slow down the action
unless you fish early and late. .
Fly Fishing Guide for Penns Creek:
Penns Creek is one stream where you better
play close attention to what the trout are
eating. The large, wild browns are not easily
fooled with generic or attractor type flies. The
upper part of Penns Creek, in the area above
Coburn, the stream is stocked by the state.
There are a lot of larger holdover that in that
area also. The newly stocked trout can be
caught on a number of different attractor and
generic fly patterns and without a great deal of
skill on the part of the angler at times. The
larger holdover trout aren't so easy to catch.
You need to concentrate on the most available
food the trout have to eat to catch them. That
isn't easy. As you can see from our hatches
section, there are numerous aquatic insects
as well as other food available for the trout.

Below Coburn, in the wild trout section of the
stream, you have to pay close attention to
what the trout are most likely feeding on
throughout the season. Multiple hatches are
often more common than single hatches. It
pays to keep a close check on the hatch chart
and try a different variety of flies for the
multiple hatches that occur. Again, the key is
flexibility. Don't become set in any one way of
fishing Penns Creek or you will soon find
yourself having a difficult time to finding any

The stream is a wide stream. It varies from fifty
feet to up to a hundred yards wide in places.
There are usually numerous places for the
wild brown trout to be hiding.
Many anglers want to fish the stocked sections
differently from the wild trout section. It is easier
to catch newly stocked trout much easier than
the wild trout but don't forget about the large
holdover trout. The stream usually stays cool
enough in the class B sections to support trout
year-round and this is especially true of the
brown trout which can tolerate slightly warmer
water than rainbows. These sections of the
stream have some very large brown trout that
are just as wise as any wild trout. Unless your
happy just to catch the newly stocked trout,
your much better off to match the most
available and plentiful aquatic insects and other
trout foods at the particular time you are fishing.
This doesn't mean just matching the hatch.
It also mean matching what's about to
hatch. It is just as important to match the
larvae and nymphs with specific imitations
of the most plentiful and available ones at
the time your fishing. The trout can see
them better than the dry flies on the
surface. We have Perfect Fly imitations of
all the aquatic insects in Penns Creek and
in every stage of life that's applicable to
trout fishing.
You will have a difficult time deciding which
of the holding areas are best because the
entire creek is full of likely areas. It also has
a wide variety of water types.

Even though it's a spring creek, it acts
more like a freestone stream in terms of
flows. There are long runs, deep short and
long pools, riffles of all types, smooth, slick
sections of water and fast, rough sections
of pocket water, depending on where you
are fishing. You have to choose a method
for each type of water.

Although Penns Creek is considered a very
good dry fly stream, and rightly so I may
add, it still will produce far more brown trout
from subsurface fishing methods than from
the dry fly. Large brown trout are far more
prone to feed below the surface than on
top. In fact, there are few aquatic insects
that will bring the large ones to the surface
and that usually happens during very low
light situations or during the evening. If I
stick with nymphs, wet flies and streamers.
Unless there is a major hatch taking place,
you are going to get far better results from
fishing the deeper water hiding places with
Penns Creek Hatches and Trout Flies:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Penns Creek and in all stages of life that are
applicable to fishing. If you want to fish
better, more realistic trout flies, have a much
higher degree of success, give us a call.  We
not only will help you with selections, you will
learn why, after trying Perfect Flies, 92% of
the thousands of our customers will use
nothing else.

When the Shad Flies (as the locals call them)
or Green Drakes start hatching on Penns
Creek, you may think you are seeing flocks
of hummingbirds rather than mayflies. It is a
sight to behold. They come up on the
surface and ride the water for a lengthy time,
provided they are lucky enough not to be
eaten by a trout. The hatch goes on in the
afternoon and later on, when the sun is
setting and darkness is approaching, the sky
is filled with clouds of spinners. Below them,
waiting patiently are plenty of large, wild
brown trout ready for a meal. If you are lucky,
you will be one of the many anglers watching
with a fly rod in your hand. Some anglers
stay on the water to midnight, sometimes
during overcast conditions when the moon is
hidden, casting towards the noise of trout
feeding on the spinners.

From the end of March through the middle of
May, hatches of different species of
Blue-winged Olives hatch. These hatch again
from about the last week or two of August
until mid October.

Little Winter stoneflies hatch during February
and March. From about the last week of
March through the first three weeks of April,
you will find Quill Gordon mayflies hatches in
the fast water areas of the stream. At almost
the same time, hatches of Blue Quills will be
coming off.
It can last until the first week or two of May.
The Hendrickson mayflies start about the
second or third week of April and last about a

Chocolate Duns hatch during the month of
May for about the entire month. March
Browns will also be found hatching in the fast
water areas from the first of May throughout
the month. By the way, this is the same
mayfly as the Gray Fox. Eastern Pale
Evening Duns, called Sulfurs by many start
hatching by the middle of May and continue
on through June. Sulphurs start about the
first of June and hatch through most of July.

Little Black Caddis, called Grannoms by
many, hatch from about the first or second
week of April for about a month. Green
Sedges hatch from the middle of April
through the middle of June.
Hatches continued:
The Green Sedge larvae are called Green
Rock Worms. Imitations of them will work
year-round. Cinnamon Sedges, net
spinning caddis of several species will
hatch from about the first of June through
August. This is the most common caddis on
Penns Creek.

Great Autumn Brown Sedges hatch in
September. There are other species of
caddisflies but these are the most important
ones.From about the last week of May,
through the first two or three weeks of
June, the famous Eastern Green Drakes
hatch. This is the big event on Penns
Creek. LIght Cahills hatch during the month
of June. You will find them mostly where
there is faster water. You will find some
hatches of Yellow Drakes during the month
of July. Slate Drakes hatch from about the
first of August all the way through the
month of October. Mahogany Duns, called
Blue Quills by many locals, hatch from
about the middle of July through
September. There is more than one
species of these little mayflies. Tricos, or
the little White Winged Curses, hatch from
about the first of July through September.

Don't overlook midges. If you fish Penns
Creek during the early or late season when
the water is cold, imitations of their larvae
and pupae will produce for you. Sometimes
the adult patterns work.

Streamers are very important flies on this
creek because the large brown trout eat
small baitfish, sculpin and even small
crayfish. Make sure you have a good

Craneflies hatch in huge quantities at
times. Imitations of their larvae work
anytime. Starting about the middle of June
through September, imitations of terrestrial
insects work on Penns Creek. Imitations of
grass hoppers, ants and beetles are
popular flies.

One of the main parts of the diet of the
trout are scuds and sowbugs. The creek
has a good population of these
crustaceans, especially in the areas spring
water makes up most of the flow. Make sure
you have imitations of both.

We recommend our Perfect Flies for Penns
Creek. They have been tested and proven
effective on this stream many times. Our
imitations of the Green Drake nymph, dun
and spinners are the most realistic and
effective flies you can purchase. If you
haven't tried them already, please do so.
You will be very glad you did.
Fall season is a great time to catch the
large brown trout and is overlooked by
many anglers.
Trout can be taken on all but the coldest
days of winter on imitations of midge larvae,
pupae and sometimes, the adults.
Penns Creek Green Drake
Angie Marsh fishing Penns Creek
Penns Creek Brown Trout
James Marsh fishing Penns Creek
Thumbnail Images: Click to enlarge
Thumbnail Images: Click to enlarge
Penns Creek Fishing Report  
Updated January
17, 2021
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
Headlines: The stream is
flowing at a normal level and in
good shape. There are good
bwo, midges and winter stonely
hatches and our sculpin and
leech pattern streamers are
Be sure to click the
above link to the Penns Creek  
fishing report for the latest fly,
water levels and weather reports.
Type of Stream
Spring Creek

Brown Trout (Wild)
Rainbow (Wild and Stocked)

Medium to Large

Central Pennsylvania

Nearest Towns
State College

General season; Mid April through

Fair to Good

Non-Resident License
State of Pennsylvania

National Weather Service Link

Hatch Chart
Perfect Fly Hatch Chart

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies

Stream Flow Data:
Real Time USGS Data
The creek is flowing at the normal level and
in good shape. We still suggest avoiding
the lowest section of the stream. It is a little
warm. All other sections are turning out
good numbers of trout.