Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Codorus Creek in South-Central Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 6, 2024

brown trout from codorus creek in York County, PA

Why would anybody in their right mind visit Codorus Creek, known as “Inky Stinky” by nearby residents for decades?

A lot can change in twenty years. Codorus Creek was once well known for its signature pungent scent, but the odor has all but disappeared through a combination of lawsuit settlements and cleanup initiatives. The water quality has also improved, and the insect population is bouncing back.

So, what does this mean for the trout? Surprisingly, Codorus Creek is now teeming with brown and rainbow trout. Codorus Creek has come a long way from what it once was. See for yourself!

About Codorus Creek

Fly fishing Codorus Creek for some nice brown trout

Codorus Creek is a 42.4-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River in York County, Pennsylvania. The headwaters are located in Maryland, and the creek is formed by the confluence of the south and west branches.

The East Branch is stocked and follows Park Road. But the West Branch is where things get interesting!

The tailwater section of the West Branch has the largest brown trout in the creek. It is around twenty feet wide and has plenty of weed growth, which might make you feel like you are in a spring creek.

This section also has shallow pools and riffles. However, the overhanging branches can make casting difficult.

Currently, plans are underway for a Codorus Creek water trail. The Codorus Creek Watershed Association is also working on preserving and restoring other local tributaries. One thing is for sure: Codorus Creek keeps getting better and better!

Codorus Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Codorus Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Codorus Creek

Codorus Creek is easily accessible from Codorus State Park. Codorus Creek runs along a CSX rail line and parts of Porters Road, Hayrick Road, and Thomas Drive. You’ll be able to see small yellow signs as you approach, indicating where the fishing areas are.

Fly fishermen have their choice between the freestone section or the West Branch. The East Branch is mostly a put-and-take stream. The West Branch is below Lake Marburg and was initially stocked. However, recently, the state reclassified this section as a Class A Wild Trout Stream.

You’ll want to be careful with your footing at Codorus Creek. The creek is wadable, but the water is cold even in the summer, so you might want to don heavy socks under your waders.

The stream’s muddy bottom varies from hard to soft, depending on which section you are in. Since this creek has a decent population of crustaceans and poison ivy,  you’ll want to watch your step!

Best Time to Fish Codorus Creek

Codorus Creek’s trout season is the standard Pennsylvania trout season. Springtime is best due to the hatches.

Although the insect population is improving from what it once was, the hatches are still sparser than you would normally find in a Pennsylvania creek. But fall is also a great time to visit, as you’ll find larger brown trout during this time.

You can also visit in the summer, but you’ll want to stick to the tailwater sections during the hotter summer months as the water is cooler there. 

Best Flies for Codorus Creek

Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of the best flies for Codorus Creek:

  • Gray Scuds (#12-18)
  • Hare’s Ear (#12-14)
  • Pheasant Tail (#14-16)
  • Black Stonefly (#16)
  • Woolly Bugger (#6-8)

Gear Recommendations

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

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.

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

Trip Planning Tips

The closest airport to Codorus Creek is Harrisburg International Airport, which is about an hour from your destination. Hagerstown Regional Airport is another nearby option, and it is only an hour and a half drive from Codorus Creek. You could also visit any other major or municipal airport in Central Pennsylvania and arrive at the Creek after a few hours of scenic driving.

The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson is only a half-hour away from Codorus Creek. It has reasonable rates and is close to other locations worth checking out, like Hershey Park. 

Of course, the best way to experience Codorus Creek might be to camp in Codorus State Park first. Located in the rolling hills of York County, Codorus State Park offers affordable rates and plenty of other activities to keep you busy. Just don’t forget about Codorus Creek! The trout are waiting for you.

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