By Don Steese
For The Daily Item
At their quarterly business meeting held earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission added 34 streams to their list of wild trout waters. One of those streams was Lithia Springs Creek in Northumberland County. It was a stream that I’d never heard of, but that’s only because I had always referred to it as Johnson’s Run. It is also the stream where I caught my very first fish.
Johnson’s Run, or as they’re now calling it, Lithia Springs Creek, runs into the north branch of the Susquehanna River just a few miles north of Northumberland. It crosses Route 11 just south of the El Rancho Bar and Restaurant. The Commission has designated the section from the Route 11 bridge to the headwaters as a wild trout stream.
My early childhood was spent living in a small bungalow along the old Danville highway just north of where it crosses the Lithia Springs road. The neighborhood kids, which numbered six or eight, (this was in the days before the Oak Park Development) all had bicycles. We used those bicycles to transport us to exotic locations for various outdoor adventures. We’d head up the old Danville highway to an apple orchard near where the road joined Route 11, cut a few sturdy throwing stocks, sharpen one end, grab a few fallen apples, and hold Olympic apple flinging competitions. The object was to try and get an apple across Route 11. As I recall no one ever did.
In the summertime our bikes provided transport to Lithia Springs Park where we all had season passes to the icy, spring fed, waters of the swimming pool. We’d also use our bikes as hunting rigs when we went on BB gun hunting trips, and we used them to access our favorite world famous fishing waters, which were limited to the aforementioned Johnson’s Run.
Most of our fishing was done from the bridge that took the old Danville highway across the stream. We’d turn over some rocks and find a few worms and spend the afternoon catching shiners and creek chubs. Seldom did we catch one larger than five or six inches, but they were all trophies as far as we were concerned. The experience was gratifying enough to hook me on fishing for life! I guess I’ve always been easy to impress.
I’m guessing it was back in the late 60s or early 70s, when the PFBC stocked the stream for a year or two. I was very much into fishing for stocked trout back then and can remember doing very well each time I fished it. For whatever reason the experiment didn’t last very long. I’m not really sure why they started stocking it or why they quit.
If you go upstream on Johnson’s Run/Lithia Springs Creek you’ll find a bridge where Ridge Road crosses the creek. On that spot there was once a water company building, which has been long since torn down. The headwaters of the stream continue from there to Montour Ridge where the stream has it’s origins. It does look like a nice little trout stream up in that section, and now the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission agrees that indeed it is.