DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Bushkill Creek in Northeast Pennsylvania

Imagine the ideal setting for a fly fisherman. 

You are probably picturing somewhere beautiful and serene, with an abundance of brook, brown, and rainbow trout swimming happily in cool water.

The only sound comes from the gentle rustling of the leaves and the rushing water. 

You might not realize it, but you have just described Big Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania! Discover this hidden paradise with the help of our handy guide.

Fly fishing Big Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania

Big Bushkill Creek, or Bush Kill as it is known on federal maps, is a 30 mile long tributary of the Delaware River in the Poconos. Originating from Pecks Pond in Pike County, the Creek flows south and enters both Pickerel Lake and Beaver Run Pond. Then, the stream flows through Delaware State Forest and enters Monroe County in Pennsylvania. It joins the Delaware River at the small town of Bushkill.

Big Bushkill Creek has many tributaries, including Little Bush Kill, Sand Hill Creek, Beaver Run, and Dancing Ridge Run. You might want to make time to visit these fisheries, as many of them contain decent trout populations.

The fishing section of the creek is about 12 miles long. About half of this area is a regulated as Catch-and-Release - Flyfishing Only (CRFFO). The stream is located near the border of New Jersey, and is only 70 miles away from New York. For these reasons, Big Bushkill Creek attracts anglers from all over.

At Big Bushkill Creek, you’ll find brown, brook, and rainbow trout. Additionally, the stream has good sized pools, long runs, and riffles. When you factor in the beautiful small waterfalls in this Creek, it’s little wonder why this stream is so popular with fly fishermen.

Big Bushkill Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Big Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania

Get directions to fishing access points and real-time stream flow data with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Spots to Fish Big Bushkill Creek

The Resica Falls Scout Reservation is a gorgeous place to fish, and is popular with non anglers as well because of the sheer beauty of the location.

This portion of the creek is in the heart of the CRFFO section. Keep in mind that you will need to register with the Boy Scout Headquarters in order to fish there.

Wading can be difficult in certain areas of the Creek, so it is recommended that you take a wading staff. 

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Big Bushkill Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Shoemakers, PA provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.

Bush Kill at Shoemakers, PA

  • Temperature: 35.96 ° F
  • Streamflow: 228 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.19 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Big Bushkill Creek

Although fly fishing is permitted all year round, it is recommended that you tackle Big Bushkill Creek in the spring, early summer, or fall months. During the hottest months of summer the water can become too warm for trout. The water becomes cool again in October.

The stream is well known for its impressive hatches of Blue Quills, Hendricksons, and Grannom Caddis in the early season. You will also see a good deal of Blue Winged Olives.

Best Flies for Big Bushkill Creek

The trout in Big Bushkill Creek can be selective, so you’ll want to match the hatch closely. Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for Big Bushkill Creek: 

  • Blue Quill (#18)
  • Quill Gordon (#14)
  • Hendrickson (#14)
  • Gray Fox (#12 - 14)
  • March Brown(#12)
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • Tan Caddis (#16)  
  • Ants (#16 - 20)  
  • Beetles (#12 - 18)  
  • Caterpillars (#12)
  • Grasshoppers (#10)

Need flies? 

Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box. 

Dry Flies
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant

Nymphs/Wet Flies
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black

- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Big Bushkill Creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Need Gear? 

Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.

Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.

High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.

Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet.  3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.

Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable.  If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.

Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market.  Excellent foot and ankle support.  Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.

Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!

Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats.  Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish.  Simply the best nets on the market.

Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam.  If you need more storage - you have too many flies!

Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.

Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.

The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes.  Game changer.

Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!

Big Bushkill Creek Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Big Bushkill Creek fly fishing reports. A couple to check out are listed below.

Fishing Regulations

Pennsylvania requires all anglers 16 and older to have a standard fishing license, and a special permit for trout fishing, which can be obtained online or in most sporting goods stores in the state.

Big Bushkill Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Big Bushkill Creek is Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is about an hour away from your destination. You could also travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, which is also an hour away from the Creek. Remember, you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Eastern Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

Because this area of Pennsylvania is so popular as a vacation spot, there are many lodging options to choose from. The Rodeway Inn and Suites is only 20 minutes away from Big Bushkill. They offer free WiFi, and an onsite pool and restaurant. 

If you are looking for a more rustic option, Mountain Vista Campground is only 10 minutes away from the stream. If you do choose to stay at this campground, it might be best to visit in the fall.

Feature Image by Cradle of Liberty Council

Looking for more places to fish? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania.

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

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