While Penns and Spring Creek dominate the publicity and field a ton of fishing pressure, the trout bite at Bald Eagle Creek is strong enough to warrant a visit and brings anglers to sections of water with less fishing pressure. Bald Eagle is stocked at various access points in Central Pennsylvania and is fishing better than it normally would a week after the opener.
Keep in mind, last Monday rain pounded this region, swelling Bald Eagle (and every other stream) into unfishable territory. It remained too high to fish through Thursday afternoon. We fished the creek in Unionville Friday and found water coming back into perfect shape and continuing to fall. While we found heavy pressure upstream at access points in other towns, there was no one else fishing alongside us, and ample trout available.
Bald Eagle Creek is slated for more in-season stockings, which will replenish the number of trout taken from the system on the opener and make the bite even better than it is now. We caught and released a limit of rainbows in about two hours before heading back to State College for the first Garth Brooks Concert in 18 years. We fished around high noon as we waited for strong winds to settle and the temperature to climb from the upper 20s into the mid 30s.
When heading to this section of Bald Eagle Creek, you have two sections of water that is harboring the most trout: the large hole just downstream of the bridge and another big hole adjacent to the ball fields (there’s a gravel parking lot here for easy access). We saw another nice run downstream, but it’s posted, unfortunately. Meanwhile, there’s still a quarter-mile of good access available and plenty of rainbows (I’m sure there’s other species, too, but we caught all bows.) These two holes are larger than you’d think and could hold trout in the upper and middle sections and the tailout, so make sure to cover the water thoroughly, especially the far bank, which is where the deepest water is found.
Spinners, spoons and dough bait work well, but we focused on drifting salmon eggs, namely Pautzke Orange Deluxe, Yellow Jackets and Gold Label eggs. First, we combed the holes and runs with a bobber, keeping the bait slightly off the bottom and picked up a few fish (you’ll have to adjust your depth in each hole). Then we came through the area again and bottom fished the same sections with eggs and two split-shots. Our larger trout came without the bobbers. Considering it was high noon and the first sunny day since last Sunday, it was no surprise the fish were hunkered on the bottom.
All the trout we caught ran 10-13 inches, but we’re told by the PA Fish and Boat Commission that much larger are available in this stretch, some to 22 inches. Considering there’s less pressure in this section than other portions of Bald Eagle, you have a better chance of catching larger fish, particularly when using four-pound test and even fluorocarbon when it gets too clear.
Editor’s Note: For updated stocking info please visit http://www.fish.state.pa.us/fact_fast_trout.htm. Anglers are allowed to keep five trout per day.