Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Bushkill Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 7, 2024

bushkill creek in Northampton PA

According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania possesses nearly 16,000 miles of wild trout streams, about 5,000 miles of stocked trout streams, AND over 125 stocked trout lakes.

That’s a lot of places to fish.

It makes sense that the creek names are often reused. There is a Big Bushkill Creek in the Poconos and a Little Bushkill Creek in Northampton County. Additionally, some federal maps refer to this Creek as Bush Kill, contributing to the confusion.

But despite its befuddling nomenclature, Bushkill Creek is worth at least one visit by every serious fly fisherman. 

River Overview

Bushkill Creek is a 13-mile-long limestone stream that is a tributary of the Delaware River. After passing through Jacobsburg State Park, it confluences with the Delaware River in Easton. The Creek wasn’t always known as Bushkill. Over the years, it has been referred to by many names, including Lafever Creek, Lefrever Creek, Lehieton Creek, and Tatemy’s Creek. 

The state stocks the stream with brook and brown trout in the upper reaches that run through Jacobsburg State Park, which is home to the only remaining old-growth forest in the Lehigh Valley. A large section of the stream flows through the park, which offers plenty of other outdoor activities in addition to angling, including hunting, skiing, picnicking, and horseback riding.

The stream is accessible to wade fishermen. The trout in this stream can be tricky to catch, so try to be as sneaky as possible.

Bushkill Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Bushkill Creek in PA

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Spots to Fish Bushkill Creek

Some of the best fishing on Bushkill Creek is in the section that runs through Jacobsburg State Park. Located at the foot of Blue Mountain in Northampton County, Jacobsburg State Park can be reached from PA 33 at the Belfast Exit near Nazareth, PA. 

The park provides plenty of parking and many trails to lead you to your destination. Remember that non-hunters should wear blaze orange during the hunting season. Jacobsburg is a beautiful state park, so do your part when you visit to keep it pristine by cleaning up after yourself.

The 1.1-mile Catch-and-Release—Artificial Lure Only section, located in downtown Easton, PA, also offers excellent fishing. This section is rated a PA Class A wild brown trout stream and receives no stocking.

The Bushkill through Easton is one of the larger limestone streams in the state, averaging 60 feet wide. Despite flowing through an urban industrial setting, this river reach has a high density of wild brown trout.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before fishing Bushkill Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Tatamy, PA, provides a good indication of current conditions.

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

Bushkill Creek ab Rt 33 bridge at Tatamy, PA

  • Gage height: 8.85 ft
Gage height Graph
USGS

Best Time to Fish Bushkill Creek

Bushkill Creek’s trout season is standard Pennsylvania trout season. The Creek fishes well year-round since it is spring-fed. The consistent input of spring water keeps the stream cool all summer and slightly warmer in the winter. There is no bad time to fish the creek.

Best Flies for Bushkill Creek

The hatches on the Bushkill are similar to those of other limestone streams in the Lehigh Valley (Little Lehigh Creek, Monocacy Creek, and Saucon Creek), with blue-winged olives, caddis, sulphurs, crane flies, and tricos being the most prevalent. The trico hatch is the big draw and can create blizzard-like conditions most days throughout the summer.

Fishing tiny dry flies during the trico hatch can be maddening but fun if you are into that sort of thing. Another option is fish small (#22) nymph patterns such as a Zebra Midge or Pheasant Tail during the hatch.  These will often get the fish’s attention more easily rather than trying to compete with all the natural adult tricos on the surface.

Gear Recommendations

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

Bushkill Creek Fishing Reports

Area guides that can provide a Bushkill Creek fly fishing report and link to the most recent PA Fish and Boat Commission survey 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.

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

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Bushkill Creek is Lehigh Valley International Airport, about nine miles from your destination.

You could also travel to Trenton-Mercer Airport, Reading Regional Airport, or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport near the stream. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Southeast Pennsylvania and arrive at your Creek after a few hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for reasonably priced lodging in the area, Days Hotel by Wyndham Allentown Airport/Lehigh Valley is a short twenty minutes from the stream. It offers a free continental breakfast and an indoor pool.

If you would rather stay at a campground, Driftstone Campground is a half-hour drive from the stream.  Enjoy the gorgeous scenery, but don’t let it distract you from your mission!

Bushkill Creek might not be unique in its name, but don’t be fooled! This is still a special stream that every angler should visit.

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

Feature Image by John Best