Piece of Outdoor Heaven
Kettle Creek, Pennsylvania
by Brad Wilson
Potter and Clinton Counties
Back in the 1880’s the Kettle Creek watershed produced native brook trout in the 20” range every season and therefore was a very popular outdoor destination for the rich and famous. It wasn’t long before the stream was void of any natives. Brook trout of that size made their last stand in 1918-1920. The trout population declined because of its popularity, the massive logging and subsequent forest fires that swept the area around the turn of the century supposedly damaging the watershed forever. Granted the Kettle Creek Watershed isn’t what it used to be, but what is now days? I will tell you this, the area is an outdoor lover’s paradise and the fishing in Kettle can only get better due to concerned outdoor lovers and the state of Pennsylvania’s generous grants to improve the area.
The upper section of Kettle is accessible only on foot, and it is protected brook trout water. So, be sure and read the signs or refer to your fishing rules manual. This area can be reached by traveling on 44 east in the town of Oleana. A few miles down the road (Pine Hill Road, 44 east) the road will cross over the stream. Park at the bridge and walk up stream, but be sure to respect landowner’s property. From this point the upper reaches of Kettle can be reached as well as the wild browns and native brookies. Please take your time in releasing these wild fish for future anglers to enjoy. This section is tight in most spots, so a 7’ rod is ideal for these conditions. I use a 4-5-wt weight forward floating line with a 7-9’ leader. Keep in mind most of these fish are wild, so keep it low and slow. Hatches are pretty general for the area. Early March to mid-April you can find the little black stone fly, size #16-18. Most times though the water is still cold for rising trout, but there are exceptions every spring. The most prevalent insect is the tan caddis, size #14-6, and this hatches from April to late September, so make sure to have lots of caddis imitations with you (larvae and pupas included). Come late May terrestrials are the name of the game. Try size #10 green weenie or a size #12 black ant, they can be deadly. This section of the stream is the most scenic and the stream is perfect for sustaining wild fish. There are some real nice “wild” fish in this area, as well as some stocked fish that move their way upstream in the warmer months. Make sure to release all “wild” fish carefully. Doing this can only lead to better fishing in the future!
Moving below Oleana on Route 144 south, the stream picks up flow from Little Kettle and doubles in size from the upper section. Here a 9’ 5 wt should be fine for the rest of the stream. Most of this area down to Ole Bull Park is 50% fast and 50% slow runs. Depending on water flows, the majority of good fishing is where the stream is making a sharp turn or in shaded undercuts with some cover. From Ole Bull Park down to the regulated area the stream remains pretty much the same. From the end of the regulated area (the 144 bridge) downstream to Cross Fork the stream changes slightly and there’s more water to fish, as well as more hiding spots for fish including some nice deep pools. In the town of Cross Fork there is an area for the handicapped and kids only. This section can be reached at the bridge in Cross Fork.
Cross Fork can say they are the one town where John Wayne’s side kick, George “Gabby” Hayes, performed in the once booming town of 2500 individuals. Now there is a country store/bar, two hotels/inns, a fire company and a few hardy, permanent residents. In this area Kettle picks up flows from Cross Fork Creek (another nice wild trout stream). From Cross Fork downstream to the next tributary that enters Kettle Creek the stream is changing to more slow runs and less fast water. The next tributary that enters Kettle is Hamersley Fork (wild trout), so in the warmer months this stream offers up cold water to sustain some hold over trout. From that point down to the 167 acre Kettle Creek Reservoir the stream remains the same, that of mostly fast water with some decent dry fly water. Some fishermen might want to change from stream fishing to giving Kettle Creek Reservoir a try. This body of water is best known for its trout and bass, but it also offers up brown, bullhead, sucker and pan fish. Also don’t forget about the other great “Wild Trout” water in the area around Kettle Creek. Two I mentioned earlier are tributaries to Kettle they are Cross Fork and Hammersley Fork; both have Native brookies and some wild browns. Other area streams are within minutes of Kettle Creek. Slate run is just over the hill from Kettle as well as Young Woman’s Creek. Both of these are regulated fly fishing only water. Slate is entirely fly fishing only but Young Woman’s is open to other types of fishing in some areas. Another good stream is the East Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek (Potter County). This is good dry fly water plus it has a decent population of wild fish that make this stream a must fish on your list!
Other Areas of Interest
This area is known for its outdoor scenery and with that comes many outdoor activities that are available.
Ole Bull Park has 24 sites with electric hook up in area two. Area 1 has 19 sites with electricity. All sites include a picnic table, fire ring and level gravel pad. Water hydrants, modern restrooms and a sanitary dump station are available. No pets are allowed in this park. Another area campground is at Kettle Creek State Park. This is downstream several miles from Ole Bull Park. Kettle Creek Park consists of 1,793 acres along Kettle Creek in Western Clinton County. The park is set in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain and wilderness. The park has 41 sites (all with electric), sanitary dumping station and is open from the first Friday in April to mid-December. Overlooking the scenic reservoir, the rustic upper campground has 27 sites (12 with electric) and is open from the first Saturday in April to mid-October. There is also horseback riding on an equestrian trail, 22 miles long and starting at Beaverdam Run and raveling through the Sproul State Forest. Some really amazing scenery! I can’t leave out the mountain bike rider. There is a five-mile trail that starts at the “day use area” and travels onto state forest trails and roads before returning to the park. Now after you get all hot and sweaty from the many heart pounding activities, cool yourself by taking a swim in the Kettle Reservoir and catch some rays on the 250’ sand beach.
Kettle Creek Park is open throughout the winter, so you can enjoy the area all year round. You can delve into ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and sledding/tobogganing, all in the park area. Not to mention the scenery in the mountains during the winter can be breathtaking. There are also several top-notch ski resorts in the area, and numerous trails for snowmobiling.
So, if you want great fishing along with breathtaking scenery you have to make plans to visit this little piece of outdoor heaven. It just keeps getting better!
Contact information for Kettle Creek State Park:
Ole Bull State Park: 814-435-5000, e -mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
LODGING: Kettle Creek Lodge, LTD.
Susquehannock Forest Cabins, Lodge phone # 814-435-1019
Cabins phone #814-435-6577 * Fax #814-435-6641
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