Big Spring Creek
Pennsylvania's Premier Limestone Spring Creek 

Big Spring Creek near Newville, Pennsylvania is one of the most famous limestone spring creeks in the world. The streams flows North to the town of Newville, Pennsylvania in Cumberland County. Its historical roots are legendary being perhaps the finest brook trout spring creek in fly fishing literature. It is the fifth largest spring in Pennsylvania. The stream is basically the same as an English Chalk stream and it was so similar that English writers would often report on the stream in the 1930's and 40's. The brook trout population in this stream is unlike the brookies of the mountain streams. Instead these fish are super selective and often spend much of their time surface feeding. Due to the conditions of the stream the trout grow year around in the 46 to 51 degree aquatic insect laden waters. This stream was part of the historical beginnings of fly fishing in America.

Big Spring Source AreaIn 1971 a state hatchery by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission was built and was operational by 1972. Shortly there after the native wild brook trout population in this limestone spring creek crashed. A study by Dr. Jack Black and Gene Macri, An Ecological Survey of Big Spring with Emphasis on the Effects of Fish Hatchery Effluent, started in 1995 and released to the public and Pennsylvania DEP in 1997 showed that the state hatchery's effluent had destroyed the stream. Due to this report and subsequent studies by DEP confirming the study along with citizens groups forced the closure of the hatchery in 2001. The stream made a remarkable comeback and in 2008 now boasts over 350 pounds of brook trout per acre in the upper section making it the most productive brook trout stream in the nation (for a complete evaluation of data, studies, and reports of what happened on this stream go to:

The mayfly populations have also returned including the legendary sulfur (Ephemerella Big Spring Male Sulfur Duninvaria). The stream is by far one of the hardest to fish due to the sophisticated trout but it is also the most challenging to fly angler who wants to test his fly fishing skill versus the smartest fish. Historically the stream had a series of mills used for power to grind grains. These mills no longer Big Spring Mill Mcracken Headwatersexist except in some old photos. This is the stream of legendary anglers like Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, and Ross Trimmer. This is the stream where as a young man Ernie Schwiebert met Ross Trimmer who took him to see the legendary Charlie Fox. Today with the return of the brook trout population the environment of this stream must be protected at all costs because mistakes could tilt the balance to the rainbows if the present substrate conditions which are optimum for brook trout reproduction are changed.

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