Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Lackawaxen River in Northeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

November 7, 2019

Lackawaxen River in Pennsylvania

Below Prompton Lake is a fly fishing treasure. But don’t take our word for it. In 2010, Lackawaxen River was voted River of the Year by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Of course, we know Lackawaxen River isn’t exactly a secret. Renowned author Zane Grey reportedly learned to fly fish at this river and even penned a story set in Lackawaxen. In fact, Lackawaxen River is well-known as one of the best freestone streams for trout fishing in Pennsylvania. 

But that doesn’t mean that fly fishing in this River is a walk in the park. The trout in Lackawaxen River are clever, and you will need some tricks up your sleeve to snag the largest catches. Luckily, you came to the right place!

About Lackawaxen River

Fly fishing in Lackawaxen River in Pennsylvania

Lackawaxen River is a 31.3 mile long tributary of the Delaware River in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The term “lackawaxen” comes from the Lenape word for “swift waters.” Starting below Prompton Lake, the River flows past Honesdale and Hawley. It is then joined by Wallenpaupack Creek. The River then flows east, and joins the Delaware River at Lackawaxen. It is also fed by a smaller stream, Dyberry Creek, which is another popular fly fishing destination.

The River has large pools, runs, riffles, and pocket water. There are also many sizable boulders and deep water pools that make fly fishing here an interesting experience. There is also plenty of shade, so you will be well-protected from the sun no matter when you choose to visit. 

Much of the stream is heavily stocked and you’ll be fishing for brown and rainbow trout. In the spring, some wild rainbow trout do reportedly migrate up from the Delaware River, but this is more the exception rather than the norm. And just like the Delaware River, Lackawaxen River has a great population of aquatic insects. Most anglers use nymphs and streamers at Lackawaxen, but you can also have success with dry fly fishing.

If you are looking for a big, brawling freestone stream, you can’t do much better than Lackawaxen River. 

Lackawaxen River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on the Lackawaxen River in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Lackawaxen River

Lackawaxen River is easily accessible to anglers. The upper section, located below the dam is paralleled by US Route 6. In the lower sections, the River is paralleled by State Route 590 and 4006. 

Keep in mind that much of this River flows through private property so be mindful of posted signs.

Floating the Lackawaxen River is another great option to reach the less accessible stretches

The fishing from Honesdale to Hawley is excellent, but the water in this section can become too warm during the summer months for the trout. If you do choose to visit during this time, you can fish some of the smaller, cooler tributary streams that feed Lackawaxen. 

Another excellent section for trout fishing is located from Hawley to the Delaware River. This area is great for fishing in the Spring. Lackawaxen River is accessible to wade fishermen, so be sure to pack your waders!

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Check the stream conditions before fishing the Lackawaxen River. The USGS stream gauge near Rowland provides a good indication of the current river 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), then fishing conditions may not be ideal.

Lackawaxen River at Rowland, PA

  • Temperature: 64.58 ° F
  • Streamflow: 817 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 4.99 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Lackawaxen River

Lackawaxen River is well known for its insect population. You’ll see many mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies. Of the mayflies, the Hendrickson hatch is one of the most prolific.

The season for Lackawaxen River is standard Pennsylvania trout season. Early spring is the best time to visit because of insect hatches and cool water temperatures. However, fall can also be an excellent time to visit. The water temperatures drop during this time, and the larger brown trout become aggressive. 

If you are tackling this stream in the summer, be sure to stay in the upper sections close to the dam, so the water temperature will not get too warm for the trout.

Best Flies for the Lackawaxen River

Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for the Lackawaxen River:

  • Blue Quill (#18)
  • Quill Gordon (#14)
  • Hendrickson (#14)
  • Tan Caddis (#16)  
  • March Brown (#12)
  • Sulphur (#16)  
  • Blue Winged Olive (#14)
  • Light Cahill (#14 – 18)
  • Green Drake (#10)
  • Ants (#16 – 20)
  • Beetles (#12 – 18)  
  • Caterpillars (#12)  
  • Grasshoppers (#10)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Lackawaxen River.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Lackawaxen River Fishing Reports

There are several area fly shops and online retailers that publish Lackawaxen River fly fishing reports. A couple to check out 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.

Lackawaxen River fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Lackawaxen River is Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, approximately an hour from your destination. Stewart International Airport, located in New York, is only about an hour away from Lackawaxen. Remember that you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Eastern Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving. 

The Red Carpet Inn in Milford is about twenty minutes from the Lackawaxen River. It offers reasonable rates and clean rooms. But if you are looking for a more rustic option, Three Pines Campground might be the best choice. It offers a quiet and friendly atmosphere and even has its own beautiful koi pond. 

But remember, you are here for the trout!

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

Feature Image by Daniel Case