There is a special place, not farfrom America's largest easterncities, where the fishingfor brass-colored brownsand scarlet-sided rainbows is so good ithas drawn US presidents, Hollywoodheavies, and the kings of many Fortune500 companies.
The stream is one of the first "mustdos" that many 30-something anglerschoose when their profession or practiceshows solid performance. It's alsothe kind of piscine paradise that comesto mind when an angling-addictedgrandparent holds a new grandchildand thinks "one of these days" dreams.It's called Spruce Creek.
On one side of this Pennsylvanianretreat is a steep, rock bluff, on theother is a pure stream, gushing half amillion gallons a day. Within a few feetof its mouth, trout can be seen swimmingand rising to take real or fake flies.
For its 14-mile size, surely no othertrout stream in the world is as legendaryas this one, which winds its waythrough the Alleghenies. Trout grow inquantity and quality amid great waterconditions and near endless amounts offood. Five-pound trout can happen atany time. Catches of 20-plus plump fishdon't even raise the eyebrows of SpruceCreek regulars.
Devotion to Preservation
Then again, it's the way the streamhas been treated that's helped make it sospecial. It's been about a century since agathering of affluent anglers—many ofthem from the medical field—joinedtogether and started a club with trophytrout management ahead of its time.Their dedication to the sport and thepreservation of its playground haveonly increased since.
Even on the tiniest stretches of thisprivately-owned stream, riffles havebeen intensified, pools have been deepened,and cut banks have been carvedto make life as large as possible fortrout. Hundreds of thousands of hoursof labor and millions of dollars havebeen invested to make every year at thestream better than the one before.
But it's not like the stream hasn'tpaid huge dividends to those who loveit. "I remember pulling in a 10-poundrainbow on a dry fly one day on SpruceCreek," says Dr. Leigh Shuman, aLancaster, Pa, radiologist. "There wasno sign of anybody else out on the river,and it was the most idyllic fishingmoment I've ever had. After a fishingday like that, I think I go back to worka better doctor. Time seems to slow to amuch sweeter pace when you're wader-deepin cool, clear river water."
Fortunately for Dr. Shuman, there's asporting club that ensures Spruce's bestbeats are well cared for, with enoughwater under lease to assure privacy andpristine angling—Spring Ridge Club(814-931-8932; www.springridgeclub.com). In addition to Spruce Creek, clubmembers are also given access to milesof quality fishing on other nearbystreams, all of which are managed aswell as legendary Spruce Creek. Manywho have joined find they need noother place.
"My fishing buddy and I used to loveto go out west and fish the great troutstreams of Montana," Dr. Shuman says."But with a family and busy medicalcareer, it was becoming difficult to findthe time for my fishing habit. I can safelysay that Spring Ridge Club offers thebest fishing in North America, and it'sbasically in my backyard."