Valley Creek is a wonderful Class "A" wild brown trout fishery located just a few miles from Philadelphia. Valley Creek has good access, including a long stretch that flows through Valley Forge National Park and Historic Site. This little jewel is protected with catch-and-release regulations it’s entire length.
The Story: (Courtesy of Charles R. Meck - Pennsylvania Trout Streams and Their Hatches - 2nd Edition)
What a great history this stream holds! Just a little over 200 years ago the lower end of Valley Creek sheltered Washington's discouraged, desperate Continental Army. Some of the most productive pockets and pools on the stream lie within a few feet of Lafayette's headquarters during the Revolutionary War. The very spot you're fishing could be a spot where Washington, Lafayette, or one of their soldiers crossed. Three miles of the lower end of Valley Creek lie within the boundary of Valley Forge National Park.
But all is not well not well with this fantastically productive brown trout stream. Wayne Poppich, who has a deep, sincere affection for this stream, has seen it receive two doses of cyanide over the past years. Many years ago Valley received another shot of pollution. This time Conrail spilled PCBs into the stream. When the pollution occured the state stopped stocking the stream. As with Spring Creek in central Pennsylvania, which also became polluted, the halt to stocking Valley became a blessing in disguise, however. Hordes of early season anglers looking for recently stocked trout have vanished.
Yes, thousands of streambred browns inhabit this limestone stream located only minutes from Philadelphia. But as with Spring Creek, entirely too many trout die after swallowing an angler's live bait and hook. Why doesn't someone in authority protect this valuable resource by allowing only artificial lures on Valley Creek?
Poppich has said that if Valley Creek were located in central Pennsylvania, environmentalists would be more aware of the stream's value; because it's located in sprawling metropolitan area, it doesn't get the respect it deserves. "Only because of its limestone aquifer has Valley Creek been able to withstand the ravages of man," says Poppich. "If the same exploitation happened to Ridley, French or Darby, they'd be dead streams."
The Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited of West Chester has devoted thousands of man-hours to preservation of the fishery on this stream. They have built channeling devices on Little Crabby Creek. A system of baffles allows spawning trout to migrate upstream. The local Trout Unlimited chapter also filed suit in one of the recent pollution incidents and works with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources to remedy calcium sedimentation and warm-water discharge into Vally from a quarry site.
Trout Unlimited, Green Valley Association and the Open Land Conservancy also received cooperation from the Trammel Crow Company when the latter planned to divert one of Valley's tributaries, Little Crabby Creek. AFter Trout Unlimited talked with Trammel Crow, the company hired an architectural firm Curtis, Cox, Kennerly and Weston to design a new stream channel that would accommodate trout. This shows what can happen when companies and environmentalists cooperate on a worthwhile project.
This limestone stream has summer water temperatures that rarely exceed 70 degrees. Valley Creek is 20 to 30 feet wide and many anglers on it catch streambred brown trout over 15 inches long.
Joe Petrella, Jr. of Downingtown, Frank Swarner and his son Chip, of Glenmoore and Wayne Poppich fly-fish regularly on Valley in the park. Joe's office is only 10 minutes from the stream and he regularly spends his lunch hour fishing. I met Joe, Frank, Chip and Wayne on Valley one evening not long ago. Hundreds of Little Blue-Winged Olives emerged off the riffles from 6:00pm until dark. At least six heavy trout rose in the pool Joe selected to fish. Joe often fishes when the Dark Olive Caddis emergers, and he lands and releases heavy 16-inch browns during this caddis hatch. Wayne landed a 20-inch brown on Valley last year. Twelve-year-old Chip Swarner is an excellent caster and fisherman. Chip hooked one trout that evening that broke his hook and landed another streambred brown over a foot long.
There's a total of 13 miles of fishing on Valley and two miles on it's tributary, Little Valley Creek. Valley Creek enters the Schuylkill River near the national park.
Valley Creek is presently in the middle of a controversy that will most definitely determine its future as a viable productive trout stream. The Environmental Quality Board composed of members of the governor's cabinet, directors of the fish and game commissions and others will eventually decide the future of the stream. Joe Armstrong and Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited have worked diligently to have Valley Creek classified as an exceptional value stream. Some locals want the stream designated as high quality-lower than exceptional value. With exceptional value, authorities would allow no discharges that would reduce existing water quality. A high-quality designation for Valley Creek on the other hand would allow some degradation to the stream. We can only hope that Valley Creek gets what it deserves - exceptional value classification.
Will Valley continue to be a proud stream with some great streambred browns? Will the state or federal agencies change the regulations on this fine stream to prohibit bait fishing? Only time and demands from interested groups will tell.
Note: After publication of this edition of Pennsylvania Trout Streams and Their Hatches - 2nd Edition, Valley Creek was finally designated with the exceptional value classification.
See the Hatch Chart and Stream Maps for more information on Valley Creek hatches as well as best times and places to fish.