Fishing Creek (North Branch Susquehanna River)

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Coordinates: 40°58′38″N 076°28′02″W / 40.97722°N 76.46722°W / 40.97722; -76.46722
Fishing Creek
Fishing Creek near Rupert Covered Bridge.JPG
Fishing Creek near the Rupert Covered Bridge No. 56 between Montour Township and Bloomsburg
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
Counties Columbia, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, and Sullivan
 - left East Branch Fishing Creek, Huntington Creek
 - right West Branch Fishing Creek, Green Creek,
Little Fishing Creek, Hemlock Creek
Source Confluence of the East and West Branches
 - location Sugarloaf Township, Columbia County
 - elevation 920 ft (280 m) [1]
 - coordinates 41°16′31″N 076°22′32″W / 41.27528°N 76.37556°W / 41.27528; -76.37556 [2]
Mouth Confluence with the Susquehanna River
 - location Rupert
 - elevation 456 ft (139 m) [1]
 - coordinates 40°58′38″N 076°28′02″W / 40.97722°N 76.46722°W / 40.97722; -76.46722 [2]
Length 30.4 mi (49 km) [3]
Basin 385 sq mi (997 km2) [4]
 - average 615 cu ft/s (17 m3/s)
Map of the Fishing Creek watershed

Fishing Creek is a 30.4-mile-long (48.9 km) tributary of the Susquehanna River in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, United States. It joins the Susquehanna River near the census-designated place of Rupert and the town of Bloomsburg.

Nomadic Native Americans arrived in the lower reaches of Fishing Creek around 8000 B.C and some spent winters in the upper reaches of the valley by 3000 to 2000 B.C. In the past few centuries, the Fishing Creek area has been home to many industries, especially mills and dams. It drains parts of five Pennsylvania counties: Columbia, Montour, Sullivan, Luzerne, and Lycoming. The creek's main tributaries include Hemlock Creek, Little Fishing Creek, Green Creek, Huntington Creek, West Branch Fishing Creek, and East Branch Fishing Creek.

Public recreation activities include canoeing, birdwatching, and fishing. The creek is one of the highest-quality trout streams in Pennsylvania. It is known for its trout population, which includes brook, brown and rainbow trout; it contains many other species of fish. Northern hardwood trees and ruffed grouse live in the surrounding area.[5][6]

Some areas contain significant amounts of algae because of leaking septic systems in the watershed. The area around its tributary West Creek is the least habitable part of the Fishing Creek area, according to a 2011 study. Fishing Creek's pH ranges between 4.9 and 8.5. The concentration of dissolved oxygen ranges from 5 to 17.5 mg per liter and the concentration of hydrogen ions ranges from 0.01 to 1.53 μg per liter. Ammonia and phosphate concentrations are typically between 0.01 and 0.1 mg per liter. Aluminum concentration ranges from nearly 0 to over 100 mg per liter. The average calcium and magnesium concentrations are 7.532 and 1.748 mg per liter, respectively. The creek's average discharge is 615 cubic feet per second (17.4 m3/s); its watershed contains gravel, shale and various loams—in particular the Albrights soil series and the Leck Kill soil.


Map of Fishing Creek in Fishing Creek township

Fishing Creek is 30.4 miles (48.9 km) long.[7] It starts at 920 feet (280 m) above sea level in Sugarloaf Township, south of State Game Lands Number 13 and Pennsylvania Route 118, where East Branch and West Branch Fishing Creeks of southern Sullivan County meet in the northern reaches of Columbia County. The creek heads approximately due south with a few bends through Sugarloaf Township for about 2 miles (3.2 km). In the southern part of this township, it turns east for less than a mile and picks up Coles Creek—its first named tributary after the confluence of the East and West Branches. Coles Creek empties into Fishing Creek from the left.

Around this point, Fishing Creek turns sharply south into Benton Township and starts paralleling Pennsylvania Route 487.[8][9] In Benton Township the creek flows four or five miles, including about a mile in Benton. While in Benton, the tributary West Creek parallels Fishing Creek, then empties into Fishing Creek from the right just south of Benton. Fishing Creek crosses under Pennsylvania Route 239 and continues approximately south, passing through the community of Maple Grove and flowing into Fishing Creek Township and Stillwater.[10] In Stillwater, Raven Creek empties into Fishing Creek from the northeast. In southern Fishing Creek Township, about 1.5 to 2 miles (2.4–3.2 km) south of Stillwater, Fishing Creek turns and picks up Huntington Creek, then flows past the communities of Zaners, Forks, and Pealertown while in Fishing Creek township.[11]

Upon leaving the township, about 1 mile (1.6 km) after picking up Huntington Creek, Fishing Creek flows southwest past Knob Mountain and into Orange Township.[11] 2 miles (3.2 km) downstream, Fishing Creek passes near the northern foot of Knob Mountain, passes by Orangeville and makes a 90° turn to the northwest. Shortly after this turn it picks up Green Creek and turns west. After some distance, it turns south again, passing the Bowman's Bridge and a gauging station. From this point, Fishing Creek flows along the border between Orange and Mount Pleasant Townships for almost 2 miles (3.2 km).[12] While on the border between these two townships, it flows past Kocher Park.[8] The creek stays considerably nearer to the western edge of the river valley than the eastern edge at this point. Near Lighstreet, Fishing Creek turns west into Mount Pleasant Township, passing several lakes and the Turkey Hill Oxbow. Upon entering Mount Pleasant Township, the creek stops paralleling Pennsylvania Route 487 and flows in the vicinity of Interstate 80 for 2 to 3 miles (3.2–4.8 km).[12]

Along the border of Mount Pleasant Township and Bloomsburg, Fishing Creek picks up Little Fishing Creek[8] before turning south and paralleling the western border of Bloomsburg.[12] As it flows between Bloomsburg and Fernville, Fishing Creek turns sharply westward, paralleling U.S. Route 11, and picks up Hemlock Creek. Shortly after picking up Hemlock Creek, Fishing Creek turns southeast under U.S. Route 11, then parallels Pennsylvania Route 42 for slightly over 1 mile (1.6 km), picking up Montour Run from the right then emptying into the Susquehanna between Bloomsburg and Rupert. The Rupert Covered Bridge No. 56 crosses the main stem of Fishing Creek.[8][13] The mouth of the creek is 456 feet (139 m) above sea level—464 feet (141 m) lower than the source.[1]

The Rupert Covered Bridge No. 56


Fishing Creek has several major tributaries and numerous minor ones. The major tributaries are Hemlock Creek, Little Fishing Creek, Green Creek, Huntington Creek, and the East and West Branch Fishing Creeks.

The East Branch of Fishing Creek at the Sullivan County - Columbia County line

West Branch Fishing Creek rises on North Mountain and flows east, pick ups East Branch Fishing Creek and flows into Fishing Creek. East Branch Fishing Creek is a tributary of West Branch Fishing Creek in Sullivan County. It starts on North Mountain and is approximately 4.4 miles (7.1 km) long.[14]

Huntington Creek starts in State Game Lands number 57 and heads southwest through Luzerne County until it reaches the north side of Knob Mountain, which it parallels until it merges with Fishing Creek.[8] Huntington Creek drains the eastern and northeastern parts of the Fishing Creek watershed.[15] Four covered bridges cross Huntington Creek; these are the Twin Bridges-East Paden Covered Bridge No. 120,[16] the Twin Bridges-West Paden Covered Bridge No. 121,[17] the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge No. 122,[18] and the Huntington Mills Bridge.[19]

Green Creek rises near Waller[20] and heads roughly south to Rohrsburg[21] and on to Orangeville, where it joins Fishing Creek.[21] Green Creek drains the central part of the Fishing Creek watershed.[15]

Little Fishing Creek starts just south of the boundary between Columbia and Sullivan Counties. The creek winds through rural areas before reaching Pennsylvania Route 42,[20][21] which it parallels for the remainder of its length. It drains the western part of the Fishing Creek watershed. Four covered bridges cross Little Fishing Creek; these are the Wanich Covered Bridge No. 69, the Sam Eckman Covered Bridge No. 92, the Jud Christie Covered Bridge No. 95, and the Creasyville Covered Bridge.[22]

Hemlock Creek is a 7.6-mile (12.2 km)-long tributary of Fishing Creek that passes through Hemlock and Madison Townships in Columbia County.[8][23][24]

Other tributaries of the main stem include:[8]

  • Coles Creek (Sugarloaf Township)
  • West Creek (Benton)
  • Raven Creek (Fishing Creek Township)
  • Deerlick Run (Orange Township)
  • Stony Brook (Orange Township)
  • Montour Run (Montour Township)


Fishing Creek drains most of Columbia County north of the Susquehanna River except for a small area in the eastern part of the county, which is drained by Briar Creek.[25] It also drains southern Sullivan County and western Luzerne County. Minor tributaries of Fishing Creek drain small portions of eastern Montour County and southeastern Lycoming County.[15] The watershed is 85 percent forest and 13 percent farmland. In the upper part of the Fishing Creek watershed, the remaining 2 percent is residential, whereas in the lower part of the watershed, the remaining 2 percent is urban.[26] Fishing Creek's watershed consists of a number of sub-watersheds. The major ones are Lower Fishing Creek, Lower Little Fishing Creek, Upper Little Fishing Creek, Green Creek, Lower Huntington Creek and Upper Huntington Creek. Other sub-watersheds of Fishing Creek include Montour Run, Hemlock Creek, West Creek, West Branch Fishing Creek, East Branch Fishing Creek, Kitchen Creek, Pine Creek, and Stoney Brook.[15]

Oxbow lake[edit]

Northern Bloomsburg and Scott Township include a small oxbow lake of Fishing Creek; the area around this lake is known as the Turkey Hill Oxbow.[27] It is located between the Interstate 80 and the forests on the side of Turkey Hill. This oxbow is located on a flood plain and includes grasses, a large area of forested wetlands, and areas of open water.[28] The Turkey Hill Oxbow lake serves as an overflow for the waters of Fishing Creek during wet periods of the year. During dry periods of the year, however, there is only water in a few places there.[28]

Most of the Turkey Hill Oxbow is on steep slopes.[27] There are hemlock and hardwood forests on these slopes, as well as skunk cabbage seeps.[28] The forests around the lake also contain black birch, yellow birch, white oak, red oak, sugar maple, tulip poplar, and Norway maple. The forests have a significant understory containing slippery elm, European privet, Japanese barberry, American elderberry, wild hydrangea, witch hazel, mountain laurel, ironwood, and the rare American Yew. The American yew population was in significant decline by 2004 because of heavy grazing by deer.[28]

There are numerous wildflower species in the uplands and rock outcroppings of the Turkey Hill Oxbow. These species include white baneberry, northern maidenhair fern, spikenard, blue cohosh, foamflower, False Solomon's Seal, purple trillium, and wild columbine.[28] Animals inhabiting the areas surrounding the pools in the Turkey Hill Oxbow include pickerel frogs, green frogs, wood ducks, and snapping turtles. Plants in this location include broadleaf arrowhead, Northern Blueflag, manna grasses, water starwort, and several varieties of sedges.[28] Japanese knotweed has been seen near Interstate 80 on the northern edges of the Turkey Hill Oxbow.[28]


Native American settlement[edit]

Nomadic Native Americans reached the area near the mouth of Fishing Creek by 8000 B.C.[29] For comparison, Native Americans first inhabited Pennsylvania between 16000 and 10000 B.C.[30] By 3000 to 2000 B.C., some of them went into the Fishing Creek valley during the winter to hunt deer and bears, and returned to the Susquehanna River in the summer. Around this time, trade routes to the Fishing Creek area were created. The area was not permanently inhabited until 1000 B.C. when some Native American villages were built at the mouth of Fishing Creek. The Native Americans who settled the area at the mouth of Fishing Creek included the Shawnee Indians and the Susquehannock Indians.[29][31] A Native American path ran along Fishing Creek from Bloomsburg to Orangeville before turning away in the direction of Tunkhannock Creek. Since at least 1769, there has been a path along Fishing Creek between the mouths of Huntington and Green Creeks.[25]

European settlement[edit]

The first lots at the mouth of Fishing Creek were surveyed in 1769, when European settlers began moving into the area.[6] In the same year, the Penn family purchased 1,060 acres (430 ha) of land 2 miles (3.2 km) upstream of Benton.[25] In 1778, Moses Van Campen built a fort of logs covered with earth with a small swivel cannon on Fishing Creek to protect settlers on the frontier.[32] There were settlers in on the creek in Orange Township in 1780. The Fishing Creek valley north of Orangeville, in what is now Stillwater, was first settled in 1783 by Daniel McHenry.[33][34] The headwaters of Fishing Creek were settled in late 1780s and early 1790s. A ferry was established on Fishing Creek by Leonard Rupert in 1786. The first sawmill on the upper portion of Fishing Creek was built in the late 1790s; it was destroyed in a flood in 1848.[35]

The first mill in Sugarloaf Township was built alongside Fishing Creek in 1802. A mill on the creek in the same township was noted for its buckwheat flour. A schoolhouse had been built on the creek by 1806.[25] In 1818, John Barton built a flour and grist mill on Fishing Creek. This was destroyed by fire in 1855 and again in 1905, but was rebuilt. It burned down again in 1932 and was not rebuilt.[36] Another gristmill stood on Fishing Creek until 1830, when it was converted into a paper mill. Iron ore was discovered in the area of Fishing Creek in 1822.[32] An anthracite-burning furnace was built on the creek near Bloomsburg in 1844.[6] In the 19th century, an aqueduct was built across the creek. Another historic industry was the Susquehanna Slate Company, which was built on the creek in the late 19th century.[37] From approximately 1840 to around 1900, the wagon-making industry was important to the upper Fishing Creek area.[38] The Fishing Creek Confederacy, which occurred from August to November 1864 during the American Civil War, was a suspected uprising of a high number of deserters and draft evaders. 1,000 soldiers occupied and searched the Fishing Creek valley and the mountains at the Fishing Creek headwaters, but were unable to find any deserters. Nevertheless, 100 residents of Columbia County were arrested and imprisoned for desertion and draft evasion, although most were later released.[39] Starting in 1877, the Bloomsburg Water Company used Fishing Creek as its water supply. The Bloomsburg and Sullivan Railroad, which paralleled the creek, was built in 1888.[25]

There were limestone mines at the junction of Fishing Creek and Little Fishing Creek, but these have not been used since at least 1887.[40] During the Great Depression, a beach was constructed on Fishing Creek near Fernville by the Works Progress Administration. After Fishing Creek flooded in 1972 as a result of Hurricane Agnes, a flash flood warning system was installed there.[6] In 2002, some land from the Custer/Kocher homestead on Fishing Creek near Lightstreet was converted into a park called the Frank W. Kocher Memorial Park. The park was later expanded to cover 7 acres (2.8 ha).[41] In the 21st century, the only significant industry in the Fishing Creek watershed is the Benton Foundry.[26] As of 2002, all that remains of the railroads on Fishing Creek are a number of steel bridges.[6]



Approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) downstream of Orangeville, Fishing Creek's discharge averages 615 cubic feet per second (17.4 m3/s) per second and its median discharge is 361 cubic feet per second (10.2 m3/s) second. The lowest recorded discharge was 90 cubic feet per second (2.5 m3/s) in 1962 and its highest was 2,580 cubic feet per second (73 m3/s) in 1981.[42] Further upstream in Benton, the discharge is almost always less than 720 cubic feet per second (20 m3/s), and usually approaches zero during the summer. The typical discharge is around 540 cubic feet per second (15 m3/s). The streambeds of West Branch and East Branch Fishing Creeks commonly run dry in the summer. In dry years, they are dry for 105 days on average, while in wet years they are dry for an average of 5 days.[26] At a stream-gauging station near Bloomsburg, Fishing Creek's discharge ranged between 10 cubic feet per second (0.28 m3/s) and 5,350 cubic feet per second (151 m3/s) between 2002 and 2012. The lowest discharge recorded occurred on November 9, 2004, and the highest discharge recorded occurred on September 23, 2003.[43]


Near Benton, Fishing Creek's pH ranges from around 5.6 to 7.25. Near Camp Lavigne, it ranges from 5.5 to 7.1. East Branch Fishing Creek is the only stream in the watershed whose pH drops below 5.5; it can fall as low as 4.9. West Creek and Coles Creek are the least acidic streams in the watershed, with pH levels usually above 6.3 and often above 7. Typically, the creek and its tributaries are not at risk of becoming too acidic for the optimal health of fish, but in early spring during snowmelts, the pH levels approach the limit that brook trout can tolerate.[26] Fishing Creek's waters are acidic because of acid rain.[44] Near Bloomsburg, the pH levels ranged from 5.8 to 8.5 between 2002 and 2012. The lowest pH occurred on December 17, 2003 and the highest pH occurred on February 14, 2012. The average pH was 7.242.[43]

Dissolved chemicals[edit]


The concentration of dissolved oxygen in Fishing Creek ranges from approximately 5 to 17.5 mg/L at Benton. Between May 2010 and July 2011, the dissolved oxygen level for the streams in the watershed was highest in February 2011 and lowest in June, July, and August 2010. A site near Camp Lavigne had slightly less fluctuation, ranging from 8 to 17 mg/L.[26] The concentration near Bloomsburg between 2002 and 2012 ranged between 4.1 and 17.1 mg/L. The lowest concentration occurred on July 25, 2005, and the highest concentration occurred on January 6, 2009. The average concentration was 10.942 mg/L.[43] The concentration of carbon dioxide near Bloomsburg between 2002 and 2012 ranged from 0.3 to 34 mg/L. The lowest concentration was on April 6, 2006 and February 14, 2012. The highest concentration was on December 17, 2003. The average concentration was 2.04 mg/L.[43]

The total concentration of nitrogen near Bloomsburg between 2002 and 2012 ranged from 0.52 to 2.8 mg/L. The lowest concentration occurred on October 14, 2009, and the highest concentration occurred on January 13, 2003. The average concentration was 1.212  mg/L. The concentration of ammonia in the creek ranged from less than 0.02  mg/L to 0.06  mg/L. The highest concentration occurred on May 19, 2009. The total concentration of nitrates near Bloomsburg was always less than 0.04 mg/L.[43] The total concentration of phosphates at the gauging station near Bloomsburg between 2002 and 2012 ranged from less than 0.031 mg/L to 0.11 mg/L. The highest concentration occurred on May 19, 2009. The total concentration of phosphorus in the waters of Fishing Creek at the gauging station near Bloomsburg between 2002 and 2012 ranged from less than 0.01 mg/L to 0.575  mg/L. The highest phosphorus concentration occurred on July 5, 2011.[43]

The total concentration of dissolved solids near Bloomsburg ranges from less than 2 to 166 mg/L. The lowest concentration during that time occurred several times in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. The highest concentration occurred on September 23, 2003.[43]


In most places on Fishing Creek, there is not enough dissolved aluminum to be toxic, although some of its tributaries have aluminum concentrations approaching levels lethal to fish. The only tributary of which contains over 100 μg per liter is East Branch Fishing Creek. Fishing Creek itself and all its other tributaries had dissolved aluminum concentrations of less than 70 μg per liter. This concentration is linked to the thawing of soils; aluminum levels in the creek peak in March and April and drop to almost zero in the summer.[26]

The concentration of calcium at the gauging station near Bloomsburg has ranged from 5.5 mg/L to 26 mg/L. The lowest concentration occurred on February 6, 2008, and the highest concentration occurred on June 18, 2012. The concentration averaged at 7.532 mg/L. The concentration of magnesium at the gauging station near Bloomsburg has ranged from 1.5 mg/L to 6.7 mg/L. The lowest concentration occurred on November 1, 2006, and the highest was on June 18, 2012. The average concentration is 1.748 mg/L.[43]


Boone's Dam near Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

There is a lowhead dam referred to by locals as Boone's Dam on Fishing Creek near Bloomsburg. A dam was built on Fishing Creek in the northern reaches of Bloomsburg to power the nearby Irondale furnaces.[6][45] In 1818, a John Barton built another dam on the creek about 2 miles (3 km) north of Bloomsburg.[36] In the 19th and early 20th centuries, there were two other dams on Fishing Creek. One was in Orange Township and the other, a 212-foot (65 m) concrete dam, was in Orangeville.[25] A dam known as the Benton Dam was built on upper Fishing Creek directly upstream of Benton.[26]

Water temperature[edit]

The highest water temperature in the watershed is at West Creek, which can reach 77 °F (25 °C) in the summer. The water temperature of Fishing Creek in Benton can reach 75 °F (24 °C) in the summer. Coles Creek only reaches 66 to 68 °F (19 to 20 °C) in the summer. In the winter, the water in the main stem is around 32 °F (0 °C) and West Branch Fishing Creek's temperature can drop to 28 °F (−2 °C) in the winter, making it the coldest stream in the watershed.[26] At a gauging station near Bloomsburg, the water temperature ranged from 32 to 78 °F (0 to 26 °C) between November 2002 and November 2012. The lowest water temperature was on January 10, 2011. The highest temperature occurred on August 3, 2006. The average temperature in August was 22.67 °C (72.81 °F) and the average water temperature in January was 1.92 °C (35.46 °F). The average temperature between 2002 and 2012 was approximately 12.03 °C (53.65 °F).[43]


The Fishing Creek valley in the Allegheny Front in the Deep Valley section of the Allegheny Plateau

The Fishing Creek watershed has been affected by glaciation, which has left a glacial till near the source and glacial outwash in the lower parts of the watershed. The watershed lies in two major geological regions. One is the Deep Valley section of the Allegheny Plateau, which contains the upper reaches of the watershed. The plateau is characterized by deep valleys and rounded mountains with elevations of around 2,400 feet (730 m). The other geological region is the Susquehanna Lowlands section, which is characterized by linear ridges of moderate elevation and valleys less steep than those of the Deep Valley region.[26] There are also flood plains along the creek.[46] Near its mouth, Fishing Creek cuts through Montour Ridge.[40] A basalt-containing section of the Catskill Formation extends to the banks of Fishing Creek in Hemlock Township.[47] Other rock formations along the banks of the creek include the Clinton Formation, the Selena Formation, the Lower Helderburg Formation, and the Hamilton Formation.[25] There is a terminal moraine, which crosses Fishing Creek near Benton.[48]

The bed of the creek contains red and brown shale in some places.[33] Other parts of the watershed lie over gray sandstone or conglomerates.[15] There are numerous deposits of iron ore and limestone in the lower sections of the Fishing Creek valley.[6] There are also some deposits of marble along the creek.[31] Most of the rock in the watershed, including the Trimmers Rock Formation and Catskill Formation, is from the Devonian Period, but some of the northernmost tributaries have watersheds on rock from the Mississippian Period, such as the Huntley Mountain Formation and Burgoon sandstone.[26] Fishing Creek is a freestone stream, although its water is colder than that of most eastern freestone streams.[49]

Areas along Fishing Creek contain pools followed by riffles, which are further followed by more pools. This configuration of pools and riffles creates an ideal situation for fly-fishing.[49] The lower part of Fishing Creek forms one side of a triangle of low-lying land in western Bloomsburg, which floods severely during heavy rains.[6]


The main soil in the area of Fishing Creek is of a type known as the Albrights series, which contains a 7-inch (18 cm)-thick layer of sticky, reddish-brown, gravelly silt loam. Below this is a layer of yellowish-red, gravelly, silty clay loam, which extends to approximately 30 inches (76 cm) below ground. Below this is a layer that contains equal portions of gravel and silty clay loam. Bedrock occurs several feet below the surface.[46] Another type of soil that occurs in the drainage basin of Fishing Creek is the Leck Kill-Meckesville-Calvin series. The top 8 inches (20 cm) are dark brown silt loam with small pieces of sandstone and shale. Below this level is a subsoil of reddish-brown silt loam that occurs from 8 to 32 inches (20 to 81 cm) below ground. Beneath the subsoil there is a 6-inch (15 cm) layer of sticky clay loam, below which is a bedrock of red shale.[46]

A type of soil known as the Barbour series occurs near the source of the creek. It is topped with a crumbly, 10-inch (25 cm)-thick layer of brownish-red silt loam. Below this is a loose subsoil of reddish-brown loam with some gravel. This layer can be easily penetrated by roots and water. Under this is a layer of reddish-brown gravel and sand, which extends to 10 feet (3.0 m) or more underground.[46] The Basher series is a type of soil that occurs along upper Fishing Creek. The top layer is a loose, crumbly, reddish-brown sandy loam extending to 9 inches (23 cm) underground. The subsoil is a loose, porous, reddish-brown sandy loam with some gravel, extending to 20 inches (51 cm) underground. Below this is a layer of red sandy loam with some gravel that extends from 15 to 30 inches (38 to 76 cm) underground.[46]

The Pekin series is found along Fishing Creek and its tributary Huntington Creek. The top layer is a dark brown silt loam that extends to 8 inches (20 cm) underground. Below this is a layer of brown silt loam with 10 percent gravel extending 16 inches (41 cm) underground. The subsoil is mottled, brown, silty clay loam with cobbles and extends to 40 inches (100 cm) underground. Bedrock occurs at a depth of 6 to 40 feet (1.8 to 12.2 m) underground. The Pekin soils near Fishing Creek contain more cobbles than typical Pekin soils.[46] Soils of the Chenango-Pope-Holly series have also been found along Fishing Creek.[48]

In 1914 the soils of Fishing Creek were found to yield large quantities of farm crops. Potatoes yielded 100 to 200 bushels per acre, corn 70 to 90 bushels per acre, oats 40 bushels per acre, wheat 20 to 30 bushels per acre, and hay one to two tons per acre.[48] J.H. Battle's History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania states that the Fishing Creek valley is fertile.[50]


Benthic algae densely cover Fishing Creek and serve as the base of the food chain. At one location on the main stem downstream of Grassmere Park, algae coverage exceeds 60 percent. The dominant algae species on West Branch Fishing Creek near the village of Elk Grove is Cladophora. The green algae species Tetraspora dominates the stretch of Fishing Creek for 3 miles (4.8 km)downstream of Grassmere Park. Here, Tetraspora covers 80 percent of the riverbed. South of Pennsylvania Route 239's crossing of the creek, the dominant algae species are the green algae Microspora, Mougeotia, and Spirogyra. In the fall, decomposing algae covers 50 percent of the riverbed. The high concentration of algae in Fishing Creek has been attributed to leaking septic systems.[26]

36 species of macroinvertebrates live in Fishing Creek. The highest level of macroinvertebrate biodiversity on upper Fishing Creek is near Grassmere Park, while the lowest is in Benton. The number of macroinvertebrates per m2 on Fishing Creek ranges from under 200 in Benton to nearly 400 halfway between Coles Creek and Benton.[26]

Fishing Creek has a population of brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout, some of which is stocked by the Fishing Creek Sportsman's Association.[49][51] Many of the trout are sizable; the largest trout caught in Fishing Creek weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg) and was 28 inches (71 cm) long.[49] An 1887 book stated that Fishing Creek and its tributaries may have once been "alive with trout".[52] In addition, sculpin and cutlips minnow have been observed in large numbers on Fishing Creek and its tributaries. Less commonly observed fish in the Fishing Creek watershed include johnny darters, white suckers, and black-nosed dace. However it is difficult for fish to spawn in Fishing Creek because of poor water quality near Benton, a lack of food, and because Fishing Creek's headwaters are dry for part of the year.[26]

Northern hardwood trees are common in the Fishing Creek watershed.[15] Ruffed grouse are common along Little Fishing Creek and its tributaries north of Iola.[46]

Habitat quality[edit]

In 2011, the habitability of upper Fishing Creek and its tributaries were rated on a scale of 1 to 200. Most of upper Fishing Creek and its tributaries were rated 166 or higher, which was considered optimal. The waters near the mouths of West Branch and East Branch Fishing Creeks, and Fishing Creek near Benton, were rated 113 to 160, which was considered sub-optimal. A portion of West Creek was rated 60-112, which was considered marginal.[26]

The highest density of organisms in the watershed occurs at West Creek, where there are between 600 and almost 900 per m2. The lowest density of organisms occurs at a site on East Branch Fishing Creek, where there are approximately 100 organisms per m2. The density of organisms on the main stem of Fishing Creek ranges from slightly over 200 to slightly over 400 organisms per m2.[26]

The highest Shannon Diversity Index of any stream in the Fishing Creek watershed is around 2.75 on West Branch Fishing Creek. This value is closely followed by that of West Creek, which has an index of 2.5 to 2.6. The lowest value in the watershed is that of East Branch Fishing Creek, which is around 1.2. The main stem of Fishing Creek has a Shannon Diversity Index of 2.1 to 2.4, depending on the site.[26]


Kocher Park, with Fishing Creek in the background

The Fishing Creek Watershed Association plans to open a section of Fishing Creek that spans 6,500 feet (1,981.2 m) and covers 92 acres (37.2 ha) to the public. There are other tracts of public property along Fishing Creek, one of which is called the Power Dam, located 2 miles (3.2 km) upstream of Benton. It spans 19 acres (7.7 ha) and 2,900 feet (883.9 m) of Fishing Creek, and features the remains of a concrete dam. Another public area is the Benton Overlook 1 mile (1.6 km) from Benton, which spans 42 acres (17.0 ha) and 2,600 feet (792.5 m) of the creek. A public site at the Zaners Bridge in Zaner 2.5 miles (4.0 km) downstream from Stillwater spans 31 acres (12.5 ha) and 1,000 feet (304.8 m) of the creek, and features an abandoned railroad grade.[53]

The Grassmere Park Campground is on Fishing Creek.[54] Further downstream near Lightstreet is Kocher Park, which spans more than 7 acres (2.8 ha). Typical activities there include canoing, dog walking, birdwatching[41] and fishing.[55] Camp Creasy was on the edge of Fishing Creek in Mount Pleasant Township from the 1950s to the 1970s.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Shaw, Lewis C. (June 1984). Pennsylvania Gazetteer of Streams Part II (Water Resources Bulletin No. 16). Prepared in Cooperation with the United States Department of the Interior Geological Survey (1st ed.). Harrisburg, PA: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources. p. 131. OCLC 17150333. 
  2. ^ a b "Fishing Creek". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. August 2, 1979. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The National Map Viewer". Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
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