Mahoning Creek drains parts of Jefferson, Armstrong, and Indiana counties. The upper part of the creek, above Mahoning Creek Lake, and the lower part offer a nice variety of fishing opportunities.
UPPER MAHONING CREEK: Mahoning Creek is formed by the merger of the East Branch of Mahoning Creek and Stump Creek, just north of the Jefferson County community of Big Run. The East Branch, which drains the slope that separates the Mahoning Drainage (part of the Ohio River Watershed) and the Susquehanna Watershed, is managed as an approved trout stream. The portion from the confluence of Beech Run downstream to one kilometer downstream of the Branch Road bridge is seeded once before the season and once during the season. Several East Arm tributaries support populations of wild brown trout and native brook trout.
Upper Mahoning Creek from the East Branch/Stump Creek merge to the headwaters of Mahoning Creek Lake is primarily a warm stream, but some trout do show up, possibly also migrants from down in the east branch. such as Big Run and Canoe Creek, tributaries also stocked with adult trout. Both feeder streams enter Mahoning upstream from Punxsutawney.
The width of the stream in upper Mahoning Creek ranges from about 100 to 150 feet in width. The section through Punxsutawney is canalized. Above the town there is a decent incline. Below Punxsutawney to Valier the current is generally slow and meandering. Things get tighter below Valier, with increased steepness and generally better fish habitat. About 2 miles above the backwaters of the lake section, Little Mahoning Creek adds its significant flow.
Access is good throughout much of the entire upper Mahoning Creek, with US Route 119 paralleling the creek to Punxsutawney, then secondary roads below town. Much of the land is private, so pay attention to posted signs and ask permission when common sense deems it appropriate. The watershed is in the public domain near the lake section, as it is part of the flood control project.
Anglers can expect to catch smallmouth bass throughout this section. Muskies and northern pike tend to be found in and around deeper pools. Largemouth bass are a common part of the catch in the first mile or two above the dam, as there is a lot of wood cover embedded in the bank. Walleye can also be caught in this stretch, especially in the spring of the year when fish are more likely to migrate from the lake section.
LOWER MAHONING CREEK: While the upper part of Mahoning Creek is easily accessible, the same is not true for the lower part of the creek. As Mahoning Creek makes its way from the dam to its merger with the Allegheny River near Templeton, it flows through an increasingly deep and heavily forested gorge. No road runs parallel to it. Bridge crossings are at Government Road, Eddyville, Putneyville, Route 28/66 and Deanville Road. Only Route 28/66 is a main highway, the others are secondary roads. A few other glade paths end at the creek. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended if you plan to use them.
Wading is available in and around the bridges. The land is private, so as previously stated, monitor the posted areas and ask permission where appropriate.
Mahoning Creek is prominent below the dam, 150 to 200 feet wide, and can be floated when flows are adequate. Since there are long stretches of featureless water, float fishing is a great way to enjoy this stretch, either fishing from a canoe or kayak, or using it as a taxi to access the best places. There is no official setup, so make sure you have casting permission when accessing a bridge. The Fish and Boat Commission has a ramp on the Allegheny River at Templeton, a short distance below the mouth of Mahoning Creek.
The stream level on lower Mahoning Creek is almost entirely dependent on the flow of Mahoning Creek Lake. It is recommended that the level be at least 3.8 feet at the USGS gauge below the lake.
Smallmouth bass and walleye dominate lower Mahoning Creek, although northern pike and muskellunge are also present.