Town Creek is a low gradient stream that is one of the jewels of the Green Ridge State Forest. It drops a mere 12 feet per mile as it drifts lazily from Pennsylvania and Maryland with a stream bottom consisting primarily of small gravel, cobble, sand and bedrock. It’s a wide stream by Maryland standards and pushes beyond 50 feet in width depending on where you stand. Even though the banks are forested, the water warms in the summer resulting in limited trout survival beyond the stocking season. In addition to the trout that are stocked in both the spring and the fall, there is a robust population of smallmouth bass and associated species that provide summer fishing action.
The stocked section of Town Creek is divided into an upper and lower section with no access to the broad expanse of river that divides the two areas. Of the two, the upper section receives the least amount of pressure as a result of the limited parking and deep water.
Upper Section: Follow the directions below to bump into the tight parking lot at the edge of the river.
“Parking lot” is an aggressive term to apply to the small turnoff at the end of the road. There is a ford the adventurous can cross to park on the other side, but I do not recommend it. During the high water in early spring, precisely when you would be here to fish for trout, the water level appears to exceed the capacity of most vehicles to make it safely across.
Instead, wade the river along the partially submerged ridgeline that extends perpendicular from the shoreline near the parking area. The terrain is tight on the southern bank with steep cliffs preventing any significant upstream progress. Beyond the steep terrain, the creek is unwadeable along the southern bank and that fact makes it the initial target of your day’s expedition. Attack it from the northern bank all the way up to the cliff face near the corner. At that point, the river shallows out a bit.
At the corner, the river deepens again and stays that way through the upstream section to the end of the stocked water with the shallow bank lying to the east. If you need to move quickly from place to place, leverage the northern bank. It’s best to edge along the bank, close to the water since the bushes become dense and thick until breaking out into a open field approximately 25 yards from the stream.
Lower Section: The lower section offers a stark contrast to the upper with the first indication being the well-developed parking area next to the trail that leads to the creek. The path to the river starts at the west end of the parking lot and, after going through the gate, it’s a nice, level road all the way down to the river.
The road parallels the creek for approximately 1,600 feet until it veers west away from the creek. If you feel the urge to move away from any perception of pressure, the road provides a nice, easy way to get there. In fact, this is a perfect place to use a bike since the stocked area continues for another 2,500 feet downstream.
Fishing the lower section is like fishing in a park. The vegetation on the west bank throws calming shade across the surface of the water and, once you negotiate the steep bank to find a good spot to wade, the fishing is easy and comfortable. If you are fly angler, there is nothing to tangle your backcast and spinning is equally easy. While you need to be alert for the deep spots, the river depth is typically between 2 and 4 feet deep in this area with a moderate current that makes for easy wading. The shade evaporates once the road breaks west and that’s where the water will be warmest. Therefore, if you are fishing for trout at the end of the delayed harvest season, avoid going all the way downstream and stay closer to the parking lot where the water will be coolest.
The best approach to fish Town Creek for fly anglers is to use brightly colored streamers. Spin fishermen can use the normal assortment of trout spinners; matching the color of the flash to the brightness of the sky. Once the stocked trout become accustomed to eating insects, fly anglers can take advantage of that to improve their success rate. The Maryland DNR comments that the aquatic insect hatches are “very prolific.” Stoneflies are the best early-season pattern followed by caddis in April.
The Maryland DNR website provides accurate directions:
“From I-68 take Route 51 South at Cumberland for about 18.5 miles to Lower Town Creek Road and turn left. Continue 2.5 miles on Lower Town Creek Road and turn right onto Maniford Road. Proceed to the State Forest parking area on the right. The Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area starts at a red post upstream of the parking area and continues downstream 1.75 miles to another red post. To access the upper area, continue on Lower Town Creek Road past Maniford Road about one mile to a low water crossing. The lower boundary starts just upstream and is marked by a red post, and there is limited parking at this site. To access farther upstream, exercise extreme caution when fording the stream by vehicle. Continue 0.5 miles to a yellow pole gate on the left, park and walk to the stream. Red posts mark the boundaries of both Delayed Harvest Areas”
Secrets Revealed? No. This is a very public location that is documented in the following places:
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The ford across the river… sporty.
The upper section leading to the bend is wide
Good population of smallies!
The stocked trout are decent sized
The parking lot on the lower section is well established
The view upstream, back towards the parking lot, from the middle reveals a wide creek with nicely shaded banks
After the road breaks west, the trees disappear.
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore