brown trout from codorus creek in York County, PA

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

Why would anybody in their right mind visit a Codorus Creek, which has been 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 through a combination of lawsuit settlements and cleanup initiatives, the odor has all but disappeared.

Additionally, the water quality has 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!

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. But this section can also prove quite a challenge, as the overhanging branches make it difficult to cast.

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

Codorus Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

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 Marberg and was originally 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 months, 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 also has a decent population of crustaceans and poison ivy,  you’ll definitely want to watch your step!

Best Time to Fish Codorus Creek

The season for Codorus Creek is the standard Pennsylvania trout season. The 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. 

Fly Box - What You'll Need

Regarding general fly patterns, here is a list of recommended flies for fishing Codorus Creek, listed by angler success rates:

Gray Scuds (#12-18)

Caddis (#14-16)

Mayfly Nymph (#14-16)

Black Stonefly (#16)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with 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 away 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. They have reasonable rates, and are close to other locations worth checking out, like Hershey Park. 

Of course, the best way to experience Codorus Creek might be to camp out 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.

Feature Image by Wooly Bugged

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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.