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Big Spring Creek, located in the South Central part of Pennsylvania, gets overlooked quite often. Its large, wild brook trout and good population of rainbows and browns make a strong case for fishing this challenging, limestone spring creek. Unfortunately, Big Spring has experienced a few problems. The weed beds in the middle section of the creek, which are so vital to both trout and bug life, have been dying. Agricultural pesticides and effluent discharges seem to be the reasons for this problem. It's unfortunate that there has been a decline in the fish population throughout the lower end of the special regulations area.

The upper end of the creek, just below the hatchery, offers anglers an abundance of wild brook trout. This area, starting 100 feet below Big Spring's source, extends 1.1 miles down to Nearly Road Bridge is governed under Heritage Trout Angling Regulations. Many people visit Big Spring just for these beautifully colored trout. Some of these brook trout have been known to reach unusually large sizes for their species-up to 20 inches. And brook trout as large as three and four pounds have been caught.

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Unlike what works for many freestone brook trout, light tippets such as 7X and 8X are almost a must if you want to fool these line-shy fish. The upper 100 feet of river from its source is closed to fishing. This area is managed as a nursery for the fish within those limits. SR 3007 follows along the river for most of its path, providing easy access and many parking lots for anglers.

To locate better weed beds on the creek, simply follow the road downstream along the river. Look for areas of deep water, with good vegetation; that's where you'll find more trout and aquatic life. Most of this better-quality water is located between the T 353 Bridge and the town of Newville.

Hatch Chart
You'll find rainbows and browns throughout the better vegetated areas. The State stocks the majority of these fish, however, the creek also has wild browns from the natural reproduction that occurs here. Tricky currents and glass water make it very difficult to fish this spring creek.

After passing Newville, Big Spring eventually flows into Conodoguinet Creek. This lower stretch of creek is not as accessible, and is seldom fished. If you can gain access, you'll find a few good fish in the lower reaches.

Hatches on Big Spring, as on many limestone spring creeks, are not very prolific. Blue-Winged Olives, Sulphurs, and Tricos account for most of the mayflies. Cress bugs, Scuds, Midges, and Terrestrial patterns are usually your best bet. Like on Letort Spring Run, long light leaders are almost always a must. A gentle presentation with a drag-free float is key. Most people use 2- to 4-weight lines so they won't spook these fish. Some skilled anglers choose a 5-weight line with long leaders, enabling them to stand farther back from the fish. Here, an angler's challenge is to be able to gently float in the 5-weight line, while simultaneously turning over the long leader.

If you plan on traveling through South Central Pennsylvania, be sure to stop by Big Spring Creek. Just don't leave your light rod at home.