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Springwater Creek

Springwater Creek is the principal tributary of Hemlock Lake, which it enters on the south end. The stream originates in a heavily wooded area known as Pokamoonshine Hollow (the uppermost section is occasionally referred to as Pokamoonshine Hollow Creek), which is about a half mile north of the Steuben County line. It flows east along Pokey Moonshine Road for about 1.5 miles and then turns north and flows for another 8.5 miles before flowing into the lake. Numerous small tributaries flow into Springwater Creek, but the only fishable tributary is Limekiln Creek, which flows into Springwater Creek about a third of a mile north of Kellogg Road. If you intend to find the junction of these streams, be sure to wear hip waders, as this is a very swampy area.

The uppermost section of Springwater Creek, from the headwaters to about half way down Lawrence Gull Road, averages no more than 5 feet in width, has a bottom of gravel and cobble, and is heavily cloaked with streamside vegetation. Springs provide the stream with a good year-round flow of cold, clean water. All of this section of the stream is on private property, but if you can get permission to fish here, you will find a healthy population of wild brook trout and a smattering of wild rainbow trout.

This section of Springwater Creek is somewhat distinct from the remainder of the stream due to the presence of a small waterfall/cascade where the stream flows along Lawrence Gull Road. I'm not sure exactly where this falls is located, but some conservation officers consider this to be an impassable barrier, while others do not. Pete Austerman, a fisheries biologist in DEC Region 8, thinks this falls/cascade is impassible most of the time but that occasionally a few rainbows will make it above the falls when water levels are high; this is why a few wild rainbows are found up in the Pokamoonshine area. The potential for a few fish to get above the falls makes it difficult to determine where Finger Lakes tributary regulations end and inland trout fishing regulations begin. The DEC should probably define this falls/cascade as either passible or impassible in the regulations.

By the time the stream reaches the hamlet of Springwater, it has increased in size, but it is still rather small, ranging from about 10 to 15 feet in width, and has a gravel and cobble bottom. Surrounded primarily by woodlands, bank cover is extensive along most of the stream except for where it flows through the hamlet, where some areas are nearly devoid of streamside cover. Juvenile wild rainbow trout are fairly abundant in the section of  Springwater Creek extending from the falls/cascade along Lawrence Gull Road downstream to Kellogg Road, a distance of about 3.5 miles, and their density is comparable to that in other Finger Lakes tributaries. 

Shortly downstream of the hamlet, the land along Springwater Creek becomes increasingly swampy. By the time the stream flows under Kellogg Road and enters Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, the footing is often a quite soggy, especially in the spring, because almost all of the land between Kellogg Road and Hemlock Lake is a state-designated wetland. This can make hiking along the stream a bit difficult, but the effort can be well rewarded, as adult rainbow trout from Hemlock Lake enter the stream in large numbers to spawn. The runs begin in mid-fall and last until mid-spring. In early fall, a few brown trout from the lake also enter the stream. These trout can also be found in the previously mentioned Limekiln Creek. The small size of these streams and the amount of streamside vegetation make flyfishing here difficult, and the most common method for taking these lake-run trout is fishing with an egg sac. 

In addition to fishing, Springwater Creek is a great place for spotting birds, especially where it flows through the south end of the state forest. See eBird List under Links for a list of the species that have been spotted here. 

If you plan on accessing Springwater Creek anywhere within Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, be aware that this is a very swampy area and not a place you want to get lost in. Be prepared and bring along the Ten Essentials for Hiking (see Links). Especially make sure you have a compass with you.

To ensure public access, the DEC has purchased 1.8 miles of public fishing rights (PFRs) along Springwater Creek. In addition, north of Kellogg Road this stream flows through the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, all of which is open to public fishing. (The map pin located on the crossing at Kellogg Road, immediately south of the state forest). 

Note: Springwater Creek is misidentified as Limekiln Creek on some maps (e.g., Bing Maps). Limekiln Creek is the tributary that enters Springwater Creek 1,800 feet north of Kellogg Road and just west of State Route 15A.


Links to associated resources (Hemlock Lake and Hemlock-Canadice State Forest) will be added soon.


Location Map


Springwater Creek, seen here looking downstream from Depot Road. This may not be the most scenic setting for trout fishing, but rainbow trout were in the stream when I took this photo in early April. A young lad from the neighborhood was fishing on the other side of the road, and he told me the fishing was quite good earlier in the day. Adult rainbows must pass through this section as they migrate as far up as Lawrence Gull Road.
A short section of Springwater Creek flows along the west side of Springwater Town Park, providing additional public access to the stream.
Downstream of Kellogg Road, Springwater Creek, seen here in the state forest, flows along a flat bottomland with little change in elevation along its course. As a result, much of the stream has a nearly uniform depth. However, pools can form where piles of large woody debris cause the stream to back up until it overflows the obstacle. This creates small plunge pools on the downstream side that can be significantly deeper than the surrounding waters. I spooked several rainbows in this pool.
My wife Pam (in background) and I hiked along most of Springwater Creek between Kellogg Road and the junction with Limekiln Creek in early April of 2021. The hike was beautiful, and we did spot rainbow trout in some pools, but the trek would have been easier if we had worn our hip waders. In the spring, much of the land along this stream is fully saturated with meltwater.
About a three-quarters of a mile downstream of the junction with Limekiln Creek, Springwater Creek flows through an impenetrable marsh, seen here from the overlook on Root's View Trail. This is well downstream of the section accessible from the pull-off along Route 15A. The southern end of Hemlock Lake is well beyond the lone tree in the distance, in the cleft between the hillsides, and well over a mile from where this photo was taken. (The water in the foreground is not part of the stream.)

Resource Map

See Location Map (above) and DEC public fishing rights map (under Links). Note that the stocking and regulations information presented with the PFR map may be out of date. See the stocking list (if stocked) and regulations guide for current information.

Driving Directions


Road Access:

The upper section of Springwater Creek is paralleled by Pokey Moonshine Road and Lawrence Gull Road. You must get landowner permission to access this section of the stream.

Numerous public access points are available in and near the hamlet of Springwater (see roads links below). Note that Route 15 is incorrectly identified as Route 15A on the DEC's public fishing rights map (see Links).

The lowermost walkable section of the stream can be accessed from a short trail off Route 15A. The trailhead is located about 1,150 north of Wheaton Hill Road. The trail will take you to a circular pond that consists mostly of an island. Go to the far side of the pond and then bushwhack about 200 feet to the stream.

Note that Bing Maps misidentifies the stream as Limekiln Creek; Google Maps correctly identifies it as Springwater Creek.

Boat Launch Site(s):

No boat launch sites are located on this stream. Also, if you look at the lower end of Hemlock Lake on Google Maps or any other aerial app, it looks like you could launch a kayak or canoe from the lake's southern launch area and paddle over to the mouth of the stream. However, every time I've tried to do this, the water in the lake and the mouth of the stream were too low, and I couldn't get into a navigable part of the stream.


Fishery Management

Management Category: Wild/Uncategorized

Fish Species:

  • Rainbow trout (wild)
  • Brown Trout (stocked)

Stocking Information: Not stocked.

Special Fishing Regulations: From April 1 to December 31, Finger Lakes tributaries regulations apply to brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, and Atlantic salmon upstream to the first barrier impassible to fish (see text for additional information):

Minimum Length: 15 inches
Daily Limit: 3 in combination, and catch shall include no more than 1 rainbow trout.


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