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FLY FISHING WALNUT CREEK IN PENNSYLVANIA

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Walnut Creek is a tributary to Lake Erie located in Northwestern Pennsylvania, west of the town of Erie and east of Fairview. It is a well known steelhead fishery that produces tremendous numbers of fish. There are also small runs of Chinook and Coho Salmon that attract anglers to its banks each year. The creek is approximately 8 miles long and is a little smaller then Elk Creek to its' west.

Walnut's headwaters are found upstream from Route 90. The creek is small here and this section is generally not reached by steelhead unless water flows reach very high levels from run-off. Below Route 90 the creek flows under routes 79, 832, 20, and 5 before reaching the lake. It also flows underneath some other less significant roads along the way. The best fishing is from Route 832 north to the lake. Like all migratory fisheries, Walnut Creek generally fishes best when water levels rise from run-off and begin to recede. The fish will congregate in the mouth of the creek during the early fall in preparation to migrate up the creek.

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The bottom end of Walnut Creek near Lake Erie is best accessed using route 5 and turning north onto Manchester Road on Walnuts east side or Dutch Road on the west side. These roads will lead to the access and marina at the bottom end of the creek. There is a large wall here that people fish from. This is a popular spot (can be extremely crowded) but not for fly fishermen. The best fly fishing is found above this area in the riffles, runs, and pools upstream. The creek's bottom is made up mainly of shale so be sure to bring along cleats to ensure proper footing. Check the Special Regulations before heading out.
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Most of the fishing on Walnut Creek is done from Route 5 north to the lake. The area between Manchester road and Route 5 is productive water for fly fishing. Below route 5 there is a waterfall that sometimes inhibits fish from getting past. If the fish make it past the falls there is plenty of good fishing south of Route 5 past Route 20 to about Route 832 (Sterrettania Road). Above Route 832 access is harder to find and not as many steelhead make it up this far.

Techniques for fishing on Walnut Creek are similar to what is used on most of the great lakes fisheries. One way is to use lead sacks("slinkies" on a snap swivel) and a running line. This is the best method if the river is very high since you need to be on bottom to consistently get to the fish. The most popular method is the floating line, long leader, and split shot. Same technique is used here as in nymph fishing for trout. One more way is the use of a heavy sink tip line and a short leader (approximately 5-7 feet). This method can be productive when using spey flies, woolly buggers, and egg sucking leeches during periods of warmer water when the fish are more active. In this method the fly is swung. The colder the water the slower the swing. Mending upstream properly will help you accomplish getting a slower swing. Overall egg patterns and nymphs are the most successful fly patterns on this creek.

Access to the creek can be found at some of the bridge crossing along the creek. Manchester Road off of Route 5, Route 20, and Route 79 are a few locations that provide access. There are also several other areas to access the creek. Remember that the bottom end of the creek generally hosts the most consistent fishing although fish can be caught all the way above Route 79.

Walnut creek is an excellent choice if all other streams fail. Being a migratory fishery there are certain times that fish best. The best time for steelhead is generally early November through December although they can be present from early October till the end of April. A shot at salmon would be best from mid september through mid October. After a hard rain when the water levels begin to recede would be another good time to fish. Walnut Creek is well worth the visit if you are in the area in search of steelhead.