Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing French Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 7, 2024

french creek near phoenixville, pennsylvania

When you think of Philadelphia, several images probably come to mind: mouthwatering cheesesteaks, the iconic Liberty Bell, or even a triumphant Rocky descending 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 the 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 means rods and reels on this site!

About French Creek

Fly fishing French Creek in Pennsylvania

French Creek is a 14-mile-long freestone stream that begins at Lake Hopewell. It 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, making it very warm in the summer months. There are also short riffles and runs, and the creek’s declination is low. 

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

map of fishing spots on French Creek in PA

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

Best Spots to Fish French Creek

French Creek has some nice water in the uppermost section off Route 23. Further downstream is a Catch-and-Release—flyfishing-only section about a mile long with 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 the creek is good, and the stream is accessible to wade fishermen.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Check the stream conditions before fishing. The USGS stream gauge near Phoenixville, PA, provides a good indication of the river’s current condition.

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.

French Creek near Phoenixville, PA

  • Temperature: 74.84 ° F
  • Streamflow: 37.6 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 4.53 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish French Creek

French Creek’s trout season is standard Pennsylvania. Spring is arguably the best time to visit, but fall can also be a great, picturesque time. 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 significantly during the summer because of the water temperature, but some sections have cooler water.

Best Flies for French Creek

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 topwater 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)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a 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

No area fly shops or guides (that I know of) publish a French Creek fly fishing report.

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.

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

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to the creek is Philadelphia International Airport, and another close option is 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. It offers reasonable rates, comfortable rooms, and an on-site gym. 

But many of us 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 your fly fishing bucket list, but it’s nice to know that you can escape the big city for something more serene. 

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