By 1840, Pittsburgh had grown into one of the largest cities west of the Allegheny Mountains in large part due to its production of iron, tin, glass, and brass products. In 1875, entrepreneur Andrew Carnegie opened the Edgar Thomson Works mills in Braddock, PA, along the shores of the Monongahela River. For the next century, this region played a major role in steel production as Pittsburgh became known the world over as the “Steel City.”
Given its industrial history, Pittsburgh isn’t the first place that comes to mind for trout fishing, but just a short drive from the city limits will put you onto several very nice streams. Deer Creek, Pine Creek, and Bull Creek may not boast the mayfly hatches and wild trout of Pennsylvania’s most famous waters, but they are stocked heavily, and any day of the week they can provide a nice respite from busy city life.
Delayed Harvest Stocking Dates for 2022: February 28, April 6, and October 18.
Deer Creek’s headwaters begin just west of Pheasant Ridge Golf Club in southern Butler County and flows south into Allegheny County. It remains a very small stream until it joins West Branch Deer Creek near Middle Road in Gibsonia, just off of SR 910. This is also the uppermost stocking point along Deer Creek, and the stream is stocked down to approximately half a mile downstream of Rich Hill Road.
Deer Creek is home to a 1.9-mile Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) section that begins at the bridge on SR 910 near the intersection of Martin Road. It’s an easy spot to miss because there’s not much access here. The best access to the DHALO is in two locations.
The first is the parking lot for the Narcisi Winery. If accessing the stream here, be sure to park off to the side and out of the way of customers. It also doesn’t hurt to make an occasional purchase at the winery before heading home to relax for the evening.
The second, and best, way to access the DHALO is off of Campbell Road, which a short jog down from the winery on 910. Once you turn onto Campbell Road, you’ll go about a quarter-mile and see a pull-off on the right. If that gets crowded, you can also park on the other side of the road, but be sure to get far enough off to the side. This isn’t a well-traveled road, and it’s full of potholes and rough patches, which actually makes it a fairly safe place to park.
The downstream property line of the Rose Ridge Golf Club serves as the lower boundary of the DHALO. The Deer Creek DHALO has lots of pockets and creases where trout like to hold. At first, the stream can appear fairly shallow, but the trout are there and they do a good job of hiding. They also disperse really well throughout the stream, and you’ll find fish even in areas that aren’t necessarily known stocking points.
Delayed Harvest Stocking Dates for 2022: February 28, April 8, and October 18.
Not to be confused with the other dozens of streams across Pennsylvania also named Pine Creek, this particular Pine Creek begins at the outflow of North Park Lake and travels in a southeastern direction before joining the Allegheny River in Etna. The stream is stocked from its headwaters down to East Pennview Avenue in Etna.
The DHALO on Pine Creek spans 1.4 miles, from the abandoned railroad bridge near the T-575 and Duncan Avenue intersection down to 150 yards downstream of the SR 4019 bridge. Much of it parallels Route 8, and access is readily available to pretty much the entire stretch at various turn-outs, parking lots, and anywhere you see signs that allow access. When fishing any of these three streams, take care to be courteous of landowners who grant access to anglers.
Pine Creek is a small- to mid-sized stream, ranging in width from 30-40 feet, and it has some very nice pools and runs. It’s also stocked heavily multiple times throughout the spring as well as once in the fall.
Delayed Harvest Stocking Dates for 2022: February 22
Of the three streams mentioned here, Bull Creek is perhaps the least known. At only 20 feet wide or so, it’s considerably smaller than both Deer and Pine, but it does have some very nice pools and offers a pleasant outdoor experience a little off the beaten path. Bull Creek flows through some nice wooded and scenic areas, and pretty much all of it is stocked each spring except for two short sections, one above and one below the DHALO, that are posted no trespassing.
Bull Creek’s 1-mile DHALO begins at the first bridge on T-721 (above the T-721 and T-719 intersection) downstream to the T-721 bridge in Millerstown. T-721, also known as Thompson Road, parallels the entire length of the DHALO and allows for easy access along this stretch.
Deer Creek, Pine Creek, and Bull Creek are all tributaries to the Allegheny River and are some of the first streams in this area to get stocked with trout every spring. Water temperatures typically stay good for trout until around mid-June. And although I have caught trout in Deer Creek in late-August, that was during an exceptionally cool and wet summer. By mid-June, you can find some good smallmouth bass fishing in all three of these streams, as fish often travel up from the Allegheny River. I’ve even heard reports of walleyes in Pine Creek, but have yet to encounter any myself.
Generally speaking, tactics that catch trout anywhere will also catch trout here. The lack of major mayfly hatches often means the trout aren’t too finicky, and I’ve had some great days on a basic variety of nymphs, streamers, or egg patterns. For the most part, these are put-and-take, stocked trout streams, but that doesn’t diminish their value as great places to enjoy nature and find peace just a short drive from the Steel City.
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