When you think of Philadelphia, several images probably spring to mind: mouthwatering cheesesteaks, the iconic Liberty Bell, or even a triumphant Rocky making his way up the stairs. But you probably don’t think of trout streams.
French Creek, however, is located near Philadelphia and is heavily stocked with brown trout by the state. While French Creek isn’t the best trout stream in the state (although to be fair, it has some heavy competition), it is still worth visiting if you are in the Philly area.
If you are fed up with the big city atmosphere, take a mini vacation to French Creek for some R and R, which on this site, means rods and reels!
French Creek is a 14 mile long freestone stream that begins at Lake Hopewell. The Creek flows into the Schuylkill River and consists mostly of pools with moderate to slow flows. While the stream is dotted with a few rocks and boulders, there is little cover on this stream, making it very warm in the summer months. There are also short riffles and runs, and the declination of the Creek is low.
At French Creek, you’ll see brown trout that has been stocked by the state. One large problem with this Creek as a trout fishing destination is that the water can get too warm to be hospitable for the fish. This is helped in some areas by the trees that line the stream, which cool off the water and provide the trout some much needed shade.
French Creek can provide great fishing opportunities in the spring, due to its excellent insect hatches.
French Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Spots to Fish French Creek
There is some nice water on French Creek in the uppermost section off Route 23. Further downstream is a Catch-and-Release - Flyfishing Only section that is about a mile long and has some quality water. This area begins at the dam in Camp Sleepy Hollow and flows downstream to Hollow Road. This section is fly fishing only, and is open year round.
Access to French Creek is good, and the stream is accessible to wade fishermen.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish French Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Phoenixville, 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 may not be ideal.
French Creek near Phoenixville, PA
- Water Temp: 64.58 ° F
- Flow: 74.4 ft³/s
- Water Level: 4.84 ft
Best Time to Fish French Creek
The season for French Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout season. Spring is arguably the best time to visit. Fall can also be a great, picturesque time to visit. Not only will you be in awe of the foliage, but you’ll also catch larger brown trout during this time, due to the spawn.
Fly fishing slows down significantly during the summer, because of the water temperature, but you can still find some sections with cooler water during this time.
Fly Box - What You'll Need
At French Creek, you’ll mostly see Caddisflies. Mayfly hatches are less significant. Terrestrials are also a significant food source and fun to imitate with top water patterns.
Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for French Creek:
- Little Black Stonefly (#16)
- Blue Winged Olive (#14)
- Tan Caddis (#16)
- Gray Fox (#12 - 14)
- March Brown (#12)
- Sulphur (#16)
- Ants (#16 - 20)
- Beetles (#12 - 18)
- Caterpillars (#12)
- Grasshoppers (#10)
- Slate Drake (#14)
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on French Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
French Creek Fishing Reports
There currently aren't any area fly shops or guides (that I know of) that publish a French Creek fly fishing report.
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.
French Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Trip Planning Tips
The nearest airport to French Creek, Pennsylvania is the Philadelphia International Airport. Another close option is the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
There are plenty of lodging options in Philadelphia, but if you are looking to stay a little outside the City of Brotherly Love, you might try Clarion Hotel & Conference Center At Exton, which offers reasonable rates, comfortable rooms, and an onsite gym.
But many of us just can’t resist the call of the great outdoors. Warwick Woods Campground is a beautiful location that boasts modern bathhouses and an on-site wastewater collection service.
French Creek might not be on the top of your fly fishing bucket list, but it’s nice to know that you can escape the big city for something much more serene.