Bowman Creek in Pennsylvania

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Bowman Creek in Northeast Pennsylvania

Though a favorite among locals, Bowman Creek isn’t a well-known trout stream outside of the state.

This is a shame, because this scenic spot boasts plenty of stocked and wild brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

Then again, the fact that Bowman Creek is relatively off the grid means that you will likely have the stream to yourself when you visit.

So if you fall in love with Bowman Creek, be sure to keep it a secret!

Bowman Creek is a 26 mile long tributary of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County and Wyoming County. While the Creek starts out small in the upper reaches, by Noxen Township, the stream’s width widens to 40 to 60 feet. It is a relatively shallow Creek and is fed by multiple tributaries, including Beth Run, Butternut Run, York Run, and Beaver Run.

Bowman Creek is born from Mountain Springs Lake, in a swampy region near Stull. Much of the upper section flows through public state game lands. The water in Bowman Creek is typically tea-colored because of its source location. 

Bowman Creek has been classified as a freestone stream. The Creek has experienced problems with acid rain in the upper reaches. The Luzerne County Conservation Association has combated this problem by sprinkling limestone on the roads to help raise the pH level of the stream.

At Bowman Creek, you’ll find rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Sections of the Creek are stocked by the state, but you will also find a good deal of wild trout. The difficulty level shifts depending on which area of the Creek you choose to tackle, so Bowman Creek is a great location for all skill levels. 

Gorgeous, secluded, and teeming with trout! What more could you ask for from a stream?

Bowman Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

Best Spots to Fish Bowman Creek

The upper reaches of the stream require a hike to access, but much of Bowman Creek is easily accessible. Still, it might be worth visiting the upper reaches, as you can find large populations of brook trout here. 

The mile long Catch-and-Release - Flyfishing Only section runs from the State Highway 292 Bridge downstream near the confluence of Marsh Creek. This part of the Creek is around 30 to 35 feet wide. You might also want to check out Bowman Creek’s Roaring Run tributary, which contains wild rainbow trout.

State Highway 309 closely follows the lower section of Bowman Creek, so you can easily access the lower reaches of the stream. Bowman Creek is a shallow stream, so it is fairly accessible to wade fishermen.

Best Time to Fish Bowman Creek

The season for Bowman Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout season.

In addition to its excellent trout population, Bowman Creek also has an impressive insect population. At Bowman Creek, you’ll see black and brown Early Stoneflies, Blue Quills, Spotted Sedges, Cinnamon Sedges, Spotted Sedges, Hendricksons, Sulphurs, March Browns, Blue-Winged Olives, Slate Drakes, and Tricos. Springtime is the best time to visit Bowman Creek, because of all the aquatic insect hatches. 

You can also fly fish Bowman Creek in the summer, just not on the hottest days. Terrestrial insects such as ants, grasshoppers, and beetles are effective all summer.

Autumn is also a great time to visit the stream, as you will catch the largest brown trout during this season. Parts of the stream freeze over in the winter, but fishing can still be done on the warmer days.

Fly Box - What You'll Need

Even though the water of Bowman Creek is tea colored, you are still going to have to be sneaky to be successful.

Here is a list of recommended fly patterns for Bowman Creek:

Early Black Stonefly (#12-14)

Black Caddis (#16-18)

Blue-Winged Olive (#18-20)

Blue Quill (#16-18)

Quill Gordon (#12-14)

Hendrickson (#12-14)

Dark Brown Caddis (#12-14)

March Brown (#8-12)

Green Caddis (#14-16)

Sulphur Dun (#14-16)

Tan Caddis (#14-16)

Yellow Stonefly (#8-12)

Green Drake (#6-10)

Blue Winged Olive (#14)

Sulphur Dun (#18-20)

Dark Blue Quill (#18)

Blue Winged Olive (#16)

Light Cahill (#12-14)

Yellow Drake (#8-10)

Cream Variant (#10)

Slate Drake (#10-12)

Blue Winged Olive (#16-18)

Trico (#22-26)

Blue Winged Olive (#22-24)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Bowman Creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Bowman Creek Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Bowman 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.

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

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Bowman Creek, Pennsylvania is Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, which is about forty minutes away from your destination. Lehigh Valley International Airport is another relatively close by option, and is only an hour and a half away from Bowman Creek. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in eastern Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving. 

If you are looking for a close-by, reasonably priced option, Host Inn All Suites Hotel offers clean rooms and complimentary breakfasts. But we recommend Slumber Valley Campground. Slumber Valley Campground is a beautiful, family friendly location that offers many recreational activities. It is also located on its own trout stream, Meshoppen Creek. 

But don’t get so distracted by Meshoppen that you forget about Bowman Creek! The trout are waiting for you.

Feature Image by Jake C

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


About the Author Ken Sperry

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.