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Fishing Native Brown Trout in Pennsylvania Creeks

by Robbi Drake

I fished Oil Creek and Pine creek, two larger than river creeks that run through Crawford and Venango County, in Northwestern Pennsylvania, starting when I had to be carried across them because I was too short to wade.

From the time I was five, on up to fifteen or so, I watched my father, an expert angler, pull browns from those creeks four or five in just an hour or so and wanted to emulate him.

Needless to say it was frustrating to not match his catch until I got a bit older and a lot quieter, and a bit more savvy about trout fishing.

Pine Creek, a trout laden creek in Northwestern Pennsylvania

Browns are the Einsteins of the trout family, and it wasn’t just me that got frustrated by them, but a lot of beginners and pros too who were outfished.

The Brown trout, similar in body contour to the Rainbow, is found throughout the world, and very extensively in the North Eastern United States, populating the trout streams in the area. Native Browns, those born into the stream, as opposed to stocked are lovely creatures, a bit larger in size than their Rainbow trout cousins, and have a lovely pink flesh that is mild tasting.. and did I mention a little harder to get onto the plate.

Browns are famous for their intellect and for their cunning means of avoiding being caught.

When a straightforward fly fishing technique might work for the Rainbow, Browns will step away and avoid the hook and net. Still it does make it far more of a challenge and that much more rewarding.. no, I think the word is thrilling, when you get that giant Brown on the hook.

Nothing can wreck a fly fishing trip for an ardent fisherman faster than a Brown, because the level of intelligence they display about the hook and pole make them so hard to even get a hook into.

Once you do hook him though his smarts get to be that much more apparent.

Instead of jumping and twisting like the average trout, the brown will nearly always head straight off and look for any single obstacle in the whole river or creek, and very often he will snap the line, tangle you so thoroughly that you have to cut the line, or make some runs the likes of which you just can’t keep up with.

A Native Brown, absolutely a fighting fish

All to often, the trout ends up getting away since light tippets and tackle are often usually used when fly fishing for Brown Trout and they just can’t stand up to the test. Most of the One that got away stories you’re going to hear, I’d just be willing to bet, were Browns.

The Brown Trout is recognized by its buttery colored sides and has black and red spots following its body.

To a lot of fishermen, pros and amateurs alike the Brown Trout is an ugly brute. I always wondered how much of that had to do with how often they weren’t caught, and how frustrated they left the fisherman.

In my world, a 20 or 22 inch brown is the most gorgeous fish that exists.. AFTER he’s on the hook..

I’ll tell you something else.. Fly fishing isn’t the only way to catch a Brown.

Having lived in Pennsylvania nearly all my life, I can say I’ve caught as many with a simply ultralight rod and reel than anything else.

They give me a lot more sensitivity, and with the water flowing over rocks and ripples you need to be able to “feel” the fish.
Another thing I use to catch them, no matter who tells you otherwise, is a live worm.

You’d be amazed how effective a live worm can be when its properly presented and by that I mean tied out to its full length, so that its seen as it should be seen.

Brown Trout are remarkably resilient and their survival instinct is nothing less than incredible. They have the ability to live in warmer waters than other trout, along with their resistance to Whirling Disease, and this allows Brown Trout to not only live, but to thrive in areas where Rainbow Trout often struggle to survive, and to grow far bigger than the average trout since the waters are more nutrient filled when they are warmer.

I’m betting that Browns are the wave of the future and I think its best to brush up on your techniques in order to catch them.

If you want the adventure of a lifetime, try a Trout fishing trip to the creeks and streams of the Pennsylvania mountains and foothills. It doesn’t get any better than this.


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