Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Bushkill Creek in Northeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

October 17, 2019

Big Bushkill Creek in 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 the Fishing Access Points shown above 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: 68.54 ° F
  • Streamflow: 224 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.21 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)

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.

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.