PA Spring Creeks Part 2. Big Spring Creek

Big Spring Creek
With Mark Sturtevant
central PA
Air Temp – 40-48 deg F
Water temp – 52 deg F
Bright Sunlight, minimal clouds NO WIND! (finally)
Water clarity – gin clear
Hatch activity – 20 and 22 midges. inconsistent 18 BWO, 20 black stonefly.

Mark Sturtevant is a very patient and knowledgeable guide. I was introduced to Mark through my uncle who is the sports editor for our local newspaper. Mark writes a weekly outdoors column. As a birthday gift in 2003, my uncle bought me a guided trip to the Yellow Creek. There is no substitute for a guided trip early in your fly fishing years. A skillful guide can critique your casting in real time. A good guide will also impart a few pearls of wisdom only gained through years of making mistakes. Local guides always know what colors and size to use for a specific hatch on a given stream. If you can gain their trust they may even share some of the recipe secrets for their fly patterns.

Mark and I had a great time sight fishing in the early morning. We were using Mark’s freshwater shrimp pattern dead drifted over some holding submarines.

The master at work

The Big Spring looks very similar underwater to the Falling Spring

A spring creek grocery store

The main difference that I have noticed between the Falling Spring and the Big Spring is a prportionately larger area of gravel bottom in the Big Spring. I think the Falling Spring is a little too silt choked.

Note the gravel bottom

As we moved from holding area to holding area we saw a very light BWO hatch. While changing our flies we saw a very LARGE trout take an adult BWO. Mark switched to a CDC winged Baetis and got several drag free presentations over the rising fish. As is often the case on these spring creeks this particular trout suffered from what Mark likes to refer to as “immunity.” These fish get so much pressure that they are very comfortable refusing your perfectly presented fly whose thorax happens to have one too many copper wire turns for their liking!

Mentor and mentee stalked their way upstream and the first hook up was very exciting. It of course belonged to the mentor.

Mark's bow

We only snapped one photo as Mark informed me that rainbow trout should not be out of the water for longer than thirty seconds at a time. I wanted to do some more creative shots, but he wriggled hard and Mark let him go.
Mark had to leave for the day, so I was left to my own devices. Anyone reading this blog lately will know that I’m obsessed with soft hackle flies. I crept downstream to a previous riffle which I knew held fish. On my second swing through the current with a size 18 partridge and green I hooked into this beauty

Fell for a swung 18 partridge and green

A few casts later I lost two after a brief fight and landed this little guy.

Love those colors

My latest bedside companion is Ray Berman’s Trout. In the first chapter he describes a new (to me) presentation for a wet fly which involves holding it at almost 180 degrees downstream of your position once it completes the swing. Hold it for ten seconds and occasionally raise the rod tip slightly as well as occasionally giving it a short retrieve. He has an nice diagram in this chapter describing in pictures what I’m trying to describe in words. Let me tell you it works. You should buy the book for two reasons:
1.) It is a classic
2.) You could see that diagram.

After getting my fill of downstream swinging and after enough time passed to let the upstream fish settle down, I began to stalk back upstream. I was dead drifting a tungsten bead head hare’s ear size 16 and behind it I had a size 16 grey bodied soft hackle nymph. I proceeded to catch three more good sized fish. The largest was about fourteen inches and i tried to get his mug shot but he flopped off the bank into the stream and I let him go.

I think my soft hackle was imitating the cressbugs pictured below.

Cress bug

Cress Bug 2

I really enjoy the smallmouth fishing and mountain stream blue lining available to me in Virginia, but there is nothing quite like a stealthy, rejuvenating trip to my hometown spring creeks!

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3 Responses to PA Spring Creeks Part 2. Big Spring Creek

  1. i am loving the underwater pictures! nice touch =)

  2. Dave Peterson says:


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