Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Big Springs Creek
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 Springs Creek located near
the little town of Newville. This is the 5th largest spring in
the state of Pennsylvania. The upper part of this stream
will give you the shakes. The water is so clear that you
can see everything in it unless it is hidden under the
grass. What you mostly see are huge trout.
This was a popular brook trout stream 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
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. The effluents from the
hatchery destroyed the wild trout population that made
the stream famous.
Fly fishing Big Spring Creek is fun knowing they now
have 350 pounds of brook trout per acre. Some of the
brook trout grow to large sizes. Some have been
measured upwards to 20 inches. 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
|Type of Stream
(Wild and Stocked)
April 4-Sept. 7 General season
Heritage season: Year-round
"Heritage Trout Angling" Section
extends from 100 feet below source
1.1 miles down to Nearly Road Bridge
State of Pennsylvania
National Weather Service Link
Fly Fishing Gear and Trout Flies
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Big Springs Creek Fishing Report:
01/28/14 The Big Springs fishing report will begin prior to the opening of the fishing season,
so be sure to check back.
The season is open from April 4 through
Sept. 7. The special regulation area is open
year-round, catch and release only.
Spring is the best time for fly fishing Big
Springs due to the hatches that occur.
Fly Fishing Guide to Big Springs
Like most spring creeks, Big Springs is not an easy
stream to fish. It has lots of large trout but the water is
crystal clear and catching trout takes some special
techniques that must be executed correctly. You must stay
hidden from the trout; you must use very light leaders and
tippet and you must make good presentations.
This is one of the finest limestone streams in the United
States. Its upper section is full of beautiful, large brook
trout. Unlike the brook trout you find in small mountain
streams, these grow large and become very selective in
what they eat. You want catch these on an attractor fly by
the dozens. You probably want catch one that way. This
stream challenges anyone. When you can catch trout
from its waters, you are able to catch trout anywhere.
Unless the trout are hidden under the grass, you can see
them. The problem with that is that they can also see you.
It also has a good population of wild rainbow
trout. Some of these trout grow over twenty
inches long. It also has some large wild
brown trout. These trout are also very
difficult to catch. You must make excellent
presentation, use extremely light leaders and
tippets, choose your fly carefully and be able
to land large trout on the light tippet. You
must be able to fish tiny midge larvae and
pupae imitations as well as imitations of
scuds and cressbugs on the bottom using
light leaders and tippets. The trout can be
caught. It isn't as if it is impossible. It just
takes doing everything right. It is a great
stream to learn to improve your skill on.
As with most other spring creeks, it is best to
actually spot the fish you intend to catch. If
you can find one rising, fish it for certain.
You should know what the trout is eating and
match it with a good imitation. There is not a
lot of different kinds of aquatic insects as
you will see in our hatch section on another
page, so that part is not as difficult as you
Fishing blindly to fish you can't see is
tough. It works sometimes if you can keep
the fly right along the grass lines but also
keep it from hanging up. It should go
without saying that you need a good pair of
polarized glasses to cut the glare. If you
can't see the trout, either the water's
surface is disturbed from wind or current or
the light situation is completely wrong.
This stream stays a constant temperature
at the spring and averages around 48-50
degrees year-round. It had a good
population of native brook trout until 1972
when the state decided to open a hatchery.
The wild fish population was almost
destroyed and the hatchery effluent was
proven to have done it. In 1991 it was shut
down. The brook trout population came
back and it is again one of the finest brook
trout streams there are. The insect
population also rebounded.
Big Springs Creek Hatches and
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 Big
Springs 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. 1-800-594-4726.
There are not a lot of hatches of aquatic
insects on the Big Springs Creek in
Pennsylvania. There are only a few mayflies.
They consist mostly of Blue-winged Olives,
Sulphurs and Tricos.
The Blue-winged Olives hatch in April and
most of May and then again in September
and part of October. They can be heavy at
times and the trout will feed on them
The Sulphur is probably the most popular
hatch that occurs on Big Springs Creek.
There were though to not exist for a period
of a few years but came back after the
hatchery was closed in good numbers. The
Sulphurs hatch in April and for most of May.
Tricos is the other mayfly hatch of
significance. It takes place in parts of the
stream during the months of June through
September. Some consider this mayfly the
most important of them all because of the
length of the hatch and others hate it.
Some caddisflies are also present in Big
Springs Creek. They consist mostly of
Cinnamon Caddis. They can hatch for a
long period of time starting in June and
lasting until the middle of September.
There are some other species of
caddisflies of little importance.Midges may
just be the most important aquatic insect.
They hatch off and on throughout the
year. You need to know how to fish midge
larva, pupa and adults on very light tippet
to catch trout when nothing else is
Scuds and Cressbugs, or Sowbugs as
they are called by some anglers,
represent the majority of the food for the
trout in Big Springs Creek. They are very
plentiful. Imitations of these crustaceans is
probably the most consistent producer.
As you would expect, imitations of
terrestrial insects such as grasshopper,
crickets, ants, and beetles become
important in the summer. They are usually
large enough by mid June to become a
factor. They are around the stream until
as late as the first of October.
It is a good idea to have Perfect Fly
imitations of the three species of mayflies
we mentioned in all the stages, Cinnamon
Caddis larva, pupa and adults, Perfect Fly
scuds and sowbugs, and Perfect Fly
hoppers, ants, and beetles. Don't forget to
have plenty of Perfect Fly streamers. You
can catch trout early and late in the day
on them. These flies will be all that is
necessary throughout the season.
Summer is a great time to fish because
the water is always cool.
Photos Property of Dennis McCarthey
Fishing Report Updated 05/16/18
(Bottom Of Page)
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
10/18/14 We haven't posted a report in a long time but plan to do so in the future. Blue winged
Olive are again the main ticket, with hatches taking place frequently.
12/04/14 Sorry for the lack of reports. Our local contact moved but we have a new one.
The special regulation area is fishing fine now and open year-round. BWO and midges are
12/31/14 We had two customers that fished the stream during the Xmas holidays that did well.
They used Cream Midges.
02/05/15 Two good reports from locals the past two weeks. Midges are still the prime insects
to imitate. Most are red (blood) midges.
05/29/15 Sorry for the lack of reports. Excellent condtions. Sulphurs just started hatching, lots
of BWOs, Little Yellow Stoneflies, Cinnamon Caddis and others. Scuds and Sowbugs working.
10/18/15 A reminder that the regular season is closed but the Special regulations section is
open year-round. We are slow getting reports but have a hatch chart developed from many
samples of the aquatic insects taken from the stream. Give us a call or send an email to us for
fly recommendations and any other questions you may have.
11/23/15 Two good reports came in recently from the C and R section. The Perfect Fly Brown
sculpin streamer hooked some very big hungry, post-spawn brown trout. Conditions look good
for this coming weekend. Midges and BWOs, size 20 and 18 are all that should hatch.
Special Regulation Area, catch and
02/10/16 If you want a fun place to fish in spite of how cold and bad the weather is, try the Big
Springs Creek Catch and Release water. It is a challenge to catch trout there but certainly fun
to succeed in doing so.
03/20/16 The 2016 season is getting very close to opening. If you plan of fishing Big Springs
Creek, give us a call or send us an email and let us help you plan your trip.
04/05/16 The season got off to a good start with good stream levels and clear water. A
customer caught his first large brown trout of the year. Lots of Little Black Caddis, or Apple
caddis some call them, are hatching. Blue-winged olives, size 18 are also hatching good.
05/15/16 Lots of hatches from Blue-winged olives, cinnamon caddis, Green sedges, Sulphurs,
Eastern Pale Evening duns, American March Browns, Light cahills and more. Scuds and
sowbugs always work good. Good stream levels exist.
04/29/16 The creek is in excellent shape with lots of hatching insects. Two customers reported
catching some nice size brown trout this past week. One was 18 and another 20 inches long.
06/19/16 The stream is in very good conditions with lots of hatches taking place. The Sulphur
hatch is going strong. Cinnamon Sedges (caddisflies) and Green Sedges (caddisflies) are
hatching good. Light Cahills and Cream Cahills are hatching.
07/03/16 Lots of sulphurs are hatching. Cinnamon Caddis, little Yellow stoneflies, and more
insects are bringing trout to the top to feed. Late afternoon egg laying is producing a lot of
trout in a short length of time for our customers.
07/17/16 Sulphurs are slowing down but there are lots of little Yellow stoneflies and three
species of caddisflies hatching. Late afternoon egg laying activity gives you the best opportunity.
07/24/16 Terrestrials are beginning to be important. Ants, beetles and hoppers should work
good. Tricos are hatching. Fish early and very late in the day for the best results.
10/30/16 Keep in mind, the Heritage section is open, not everything. Blue-winged oive hatches
have been great. Brown trout are either spawning or in the pre-spawn stage. Please do not
wade through any redds.
02/05/17 We received two good reports recently from the Heritage section. Good numbers of
trout were caught and release using cream midges. Fish the larva and pupa imitations under a
strike indicator. There are some red midges hatching as well.
04/23/17 The water is in good shape with lots of hatches taking place. Blue Quills, Quill
Gordons, little Brown stoneflies, little Black caddis, Blue-winged olives and anytime now,
Hendricksons and Red Quills.
05/21/17 The stream levels are good with lots of insects hatching including Sulphurs. Our
customers are catching lots of trout.
07/07/17 Add terrestrials to the list of flies we recommend. They are becoming important. There
are still a lot of Sulpurs and Cinnamon Caddis, Green sedges and Little sister caddis hatching.
07/23/17 The cold spring water makes this a good choice in the hot summertime. Slate Drakes
and Tricos are starting to hatch.
08/17/17 The creek is in great shape with plenty of hatches taking place. Our customers
have sent in three good reports during the past two weeks. Terrestrials, such as Carpenter
ants, Japanese beetles and Hoppers are working good.
12/05/17 Sorry for the lack of reports. The Heritage Season is open year-round, and this is
one of the great places to fish during the late Fall and Winter months. Good stream levels and
lots of Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching.
12/12/17 Conditions remain good. There is light snow in the forecast. The cloud cover helps.
01/30/18 Conditions are very good for the end of January. The water is warm anywhere near
the spring and the many springs along the way. Aquatic worms, scuds, little BWOs and Midges.
03/16/18 Trout are being caught and some good ones. Cream and light Green Midges and
scuds are working good. Aquatic worms are working.
04/18/18 This has been one of the better streams to fish. Heavy rain and recent cold weather
has affected the tailwaters and freestone streams in the area, but not Big Springs Creek.
05/02/18 The stream is in great shape with lots of hatches. Sulphurs are starting to hatch along
with Green Sedge and Cinnamon Caddis. We are getting reports of great dry fly action.
05/16/18 Good conditions exist. Lots of insects hatching. Scud and sowbugs also working
good. Sulphurs are starting to hatch.