Penns Creek & The Things They’d Never Believe

I had a small window of time to fish on Saturday, maybe a half-day. I didn’t have time during the week to spool my smallmouth reel with new line so I decided I’d stick with targeting trout. There were heavy rains on Wednesday but the USGS webpages were showing that many of the streams in central Pennsylvania would be at optimal late summer flows through the weekend. I decided that I was up for a challenge and early Saturday morning I was driving in the dark on my way up 322 towards Centre County to fish Penns Creek (“Penns”). If you’ve read this blog since the beginning you’ll know that Penns has always been a thorn in my side. Our history goes back almost 20 years. I think the fact that Penns is a stream that has never given me large numbers of fish is what keeps me coming back. It has a mysterious side to it and as I’ve always described it, this “Jekyll and Hyde” body of water has a way of humbling a fly fisherman. When it is kind, the rewards can really be something.

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Eating Humble Pie on Penns Creek

Fly fishing is a pursuit that provides endless opportunities to learn. You can learn about the subtleties of the way a fly rod moves, the lifecycle of mayflies, the feeding habits of fish, and characteristics of a body of water. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you discover a new layer to peel back. And so it was for me this past weekend on Penns Creek (“Penns”) when this amazing trout fishery served me a big piece of humble pie. This wasn’t the first time Penns Creek served me. I still remember my first several visits to Penns Creek during my time at Penn State. I remember hearing about how amazing the trout fishing was, how large the brown trout were, and how prolific the hatches could be. On my first three trips, I didn’t catch a fish, let alone hook up with one. Penns has a funny way of either giving you the greatest day on the water, or grounding you and reminding you that even the most experienced fly fisherman can’t tame it.

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