Dutch Fork Creek is a small, low gradient stream located in Western Pennsylvania. Rising in the city of Claysville, this stream flows along interstate 79 before being impounded in Dutch Fork Lake. After exiting the lake, the stream continues flowing several more miles until it empties into Buffalo Creek near the West Virginia border.
Dutch Fork Creek is stocked with trout throughout most of its length. Two plantings of trout in the spring bring anglers out to fish. As spring turns to summer, the trout disappear and the stream gets much less attention.
This is not a pristine or scenic waterway by any means. The most fished section flows along a noisy highway. The substrate here consists of a mix of sediment and things like tires, scrap metal and shoes. This section of the stream is also prone to flooding. The bank is eaten away by high water events that also drive more rubbish into the stream. You can even find the remains of an old bridge strewn about the special regulation area.
That said the stream offers trout fishing in an area with few other options. A Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) section is open year round. This area allows anglers to get in some fishing when most stocked streams are closed.
Fish species in Dutch Fork Creek
As mentioned earlier, Dutch Fork Creek is stocked with trout twice each spring. The PA Fish and Boat Commission plants rainbow and brown trout in the top and bottom sections of the stream. Trout stocked into Dutch Fork Lake can make their way into the stream. At the same time, a good Spring storm can blow a number of fish from the stream down into the lake.
An average Dutch Fork Creek brown trout
Rainbow trout and brown trout are the target species for pretty much anyone fishing this stream. The average trout here is in the 7 to 10 inch range. There are some other species in the stream too. Fish like the crappie, bass, bluegill and bullhead and common carp that live in the lake occasionally make their way into the stream. There they join the native white suckers and creek chubs which are common if not plentiful.
Fishing in Dutch Fork Creek
Fishing in Dutch Fork Creek isn’t exactly the easiest proposition. There is a decent amount of access upstream of the lake. The lower reaches also flow through State Game Lands 232. The rest of the stream is surrounded by private property or Interstate 79.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve fished here a couple of times and caught trout. Then I’ve also watched others leave skunked or give up after their fifth or sixth snag in a row. Without a lot of good holding spots the stream can seem puzzling or even devoid of fish in some sections.
The biggest obstacle here is just the layout of the stream itself. The upper section has high muddy banks and lots of debris. Wading and even walking the bank can be tough in spring when flood waters turn everything into soft, sticky mud. Some stream stabilization work has been done upstream of the lake but the overall character of the stream remains the same.
A typical stretch of Dutch Fork Creek
Casts and retrieves are limited by all the blown down trees and other various garbage in the water. I once caught a plastic shopping bag on a prince nymph here! All-in-all the stream is somewhat reminiscent of Pike Run in the same general vicinity.
Still there are fish here, and they can absolutely be caught. Making the proper approach and getting a cast off without snagging up are the most difficult parts about it. The water isn’t so clear that you have to use light fluorocarbon line. Though after fish start to feel pressure in the DHALO section, a stealthy approach can definitely help.
All the usual stuff works on the stocked trout of Dutch Fork Creek. You can drift trout worms or hold small spinners out in the current and catch a good amount of fish. Twitching a small lure designed for stream trout can also work well. Outside of the special regulations area live bait like red worms probably takes the most fish.
When it comes to fly fishing I stick to dead drifting a nymph with a long stick. Euro nymphing is best of all. There just isn’t much room for a back cast or long drift here. Besides, the insect life is severely limited so the fish aren’t really looking up for food anyway. General flies and attractor patterns like the pheasant tail nymph, San Juan Worm usually do well here. If not, I will switch to a woolly bugger and twitch it around likely spots until a fish hits.
Dutch Fork Creek fishing regulations
Dutch Fork Creek is classified as a stocked trout water by the PA fish commission. That means most of the stream is closed to fishing from late February to the trout opener in April each year. The exception is the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only above Dutch Fork Lake, which is open to fishing year round. But as the name would suggest, fishing there is limited to artificial lures only.
The DHALO section of the stream starts just above the Donegal Columbia Gas Compressor Station and stretches downstream to the Hicks Rd bridge just above the lake. In this area fishing can be done “with artificial lures only constructed of metal, plastic, rubber or wood, or with flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials.” In the DHALO area, three trout of at least nine inches can be kept from June 15 to Labor Day. You cannot keep any trout during any other part of the year.
A stocked rainbow trout from Dutch Fork Creek
In the rest of the stream, fishing can be done with traditional angling methods using bait, lures and flies. Anglers are permitted to keep five trout over seven inches during regular trout season. The limit is lowered to three trout during the extended season later in the year. Other species of fish in Dutch Fork Creek fall under general fishing regulations.
When it comes to trout, this is a put-and-take fishery. The water gets too warm to support trout year round. The fish stocked in the spring do not make it to the next year. They are placed in the stream to be caught and eaten.
To the best of my knowledge, this is accurate as of the time of writing. Of course regulations are subject to change. For current regulations be sure to check the Pennsylvania Fish Commission website.
Dutch Fork Creek fishing at a glance
- Fish species present: Brown trout, rainbow trout, white sucker, creek chub.
- Closest tackle shops: BaitFish LLC, Cross Creek Original Bait and Tackle, Cabela’s.
- Recommend spin fishing tackle: Ultralight rod, 2-4lb monofilament line.
- Recommend fly fishing tackle: 2-4 weight rod, WF floating line or Euro Nymph Line, 4x monofilament tippet.
- Recommend bait/lures: Custom Trout Worm, Swiss Swing, Rapala Ultra Light Minnow.
- Recommend flies: San Juan Worm size 12, pheasant tail size 10, woolly bugger size 10.
- Nearby hotels: HomeTowne Studios & Suites Washington, Comfort Inn & Suites Triadelphia.