Happy Valley Fishing Opportunities

– by Mark Nale

The streams in Happy Valley are legendary for their pristine water, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Clearwater Conservancy is dedicated to conserving and restoring our natural resources through land conservation, water resources stewardship, and environmental outreach across central Pennsylvania.

3 Colorful 14 Wild Brown 0727 ps

Fourteen Centre County streams and 2 dams are stocked with beautiful rainbow trout.

- Photo taken by Mark Nale

Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, offers a wealth of fishing opportunities. In the trout department, choices are numerous and the fishing quality – well, it is almost heaven. Trout angling is so good that it caused one visiting southeastern Pennsylvania fly fisherman to tell this writer, “When I die, I hope that I am reincarnated in Centre County.”

Stocked Trout

There are 14 stocked trout streams in the county, along with two trout-stocked impoundments – Poe Lake and Cold Stream Dam. In 2023, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock over 3.2 million trout, and Centre County gets more than its fair share. Cooperative Trout Nurseries statewide will add another million trout. At least two of those co-ops, the Bald Eagle Sportsmen Club and Three Point Sportsmen, add trout to county waters.

Stocked trout streams include big waters, such as Bald Eagle Creek below Milesburg and a long section of Penns Creek upstream from Coburn. Small streams, such as White Deer Creek, Wallace Run, Little Fishing Creek, and Pine Creek make up the majority.

Stocked trout waters are closed to fishing from mid-February (Feb. 19, in 2023) until the first Saturday in April – the opening day of stocked trout season. During this 6-week closure, the streams and lakes are stocked.

2 Fly angler on Bald Eagle Creek 8326 NALE

A fly angler braves the cold to fish the Keystone Select section of Bald Eagle Creek north of Port Matilda.

- Photo taken by Mark Nale

Most of these waters are managed under normal statewide regulations. Under these rules, anglers can keep five trout of 7-inches or more in length each day from opening day until the first weekend in September. The creel limit is then reduced to three trout per day.

Several area trout streams or stream sections are managed by special regulations. Sixteen miles of Spring Creek, probably the most famous water in the county, is Catch-and-Release – All Tackle; Fisherman’s Paradise (on Spring Creek) is Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only; and a 1.3-mile section of Black Moshannon Creek is Delayed Harvest – Artificial Lures Only. Lick Run, a small stream near Howard, is Trophy Trout – Artificial Lures Only

A section of Bald Eagle Creek 0.8-mile long, north of Port Matilda, is the area’s only Keystone Select Stocked Trout Stream, and it is the only one of the 24 Keystone Select streams that allows the use of any type of terminal tackle. The stream section contains fully accessible parking and a trail back to a fishing platform. Keystone Select streams are open to year-round angling, although no harvest is permitted Labor Day through June 15.

Keystone Select Trout waters are stocked with large numbers of big trout. This section of Bald Eagle Creek receives two spring stockings – typically one in March and one in April. According to PFBC, these stockings include over 150 trophy trout measuring 14 to 20 inches. The address for parking and access for the Keystone Select area of Bald Eagle Creek is 6543 S. Eagle Valley Road, Julian, PA 16844.

Centre County is "known for its wild trout streams. Over 40 Class A wild trout streams can be found in the county"

- Mark Nale

Wild Trout

Centre County is actually better known for its wild trout streams. Over 40 Class A wild trout streams can be found in the county. Some, such as Spring Creek, the Logan Branch, and Little Fishing Creek are easily accessed from highways, while others require some walking. However, the walk is worth it – these wild trout streams hold naturally-reproduced brown trout or native brook trout, with many having a combination of both.

Locate these special waters by visiting www.fishandboat.com and clicking on “Where to Fish,” at the top of the page. Then select “Trout Streams,” and an interactive map of the state will appear. Use the layers to the left of the map to find what you are looking for. Class A streams appear as green lines when that layer is activated. Click on an individual stream for details and directions. Note – some of these streams are on private property and might be posted.

Warm Water Fishing

Happy Valley is also home to Sayers Lake, an 1,820-acre impoundment located in Bald Eagle State Park. Sayers Dam is a US Army Corps of Engineers flood control facility. Its level is drawn down each winter and filled back to the summer pool level by Memorial Day weekend. The lake holds good fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, perch and catfish. The lake has no boat horsepower restrictions, but posts a 45 mph speed limit.

The much smaller Colyer Lake is located nine miles east of State College. In recent years, the 77-acre lake was drained, repaired and refurbished, with the work completed in 2015. Anglers can find largemouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel and catfish in the lake. Motorboats are not permitted on Colyer Lake, but it is popular with canoeists and kayakers, as well as bank anglers.

Although it is a stocked trout stream, Bald Eagle Creek upstream from Milesburg is an excellent smallmouth bass fishery during the summer months.

Mark Jackson with rainbow trout 123007 cp

Centre County has well over 50 streams, both big and small, that hold colorful, naturally-reproduced brown trout.

- Photo taken by Mark Nale

Centre County Trout Heaven

Why not include fishing during your next trip to Happy Valley? Pick up a free Pennsylvania Fishing Summary at any license-issuing agent or check it out online. There are even two Fish-for-Free days held each year, when you can experience trout heaven without a license.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at HappyValley.com/events