Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Little Lehigh Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

November 24, 2019

Little Lehigh Creek in Lehigh County Pennsylvania

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The Little Lehigh Creek reportedly has more trout per mile than any other stream in Pennsylvania.

Known for its world-class trico hatch, this little limestone gem fishes well all summer thanks to a continuous supply of cool spring water.

Flowing through a beautiful park system in Lehigh County near Allentown, PA, the wild brown trout of the Little Lehigh are not easy to catch but definitely worth the effort.

Learn more about the secrets of Little Lehigh Creek with the help of our handy guide!

About Little Lehigh Creek

Fly fishing the lower catch-and-release fly fishing only section of the Little Lehigh Creek near Allentown, PA

Little Lehigh Creek is a 24 mile long tributary of the Lehigh River. The stream is a limestone spring creek and flows through Lehigh Valley. Its source is located in Longswamp Township in Berks County, and it joins Lehigh River in Allentown. It is also fed by Jordan Creek.

There is a 1.5 mile (upper) Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only (CRFFO) section that stretches from the T-508 bridge (Wild Cherry Lane) to the T-510 bridge (Millrace Road). A second (lower) CRFFO section (formerly known as the Heritage Section) runs from the Fish Hatchery Road Bridge to the 24th Street Bridge. 

At Little Lehigh Creek, you will see brown trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout. It’s important at Little Lehigh to match the insect hatch, so be sure to pack your best imitations.

Little Lehigh Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Little Lehigh Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Little Lehigh Creek

The best fly fishing is in the lower CRFFO section, where a 27-inch nine-pound brown trout was caught in the early 1990s. This section, however, sees an extreme amount of pressure due to its’ notoriety.

There are other options though, including some excellent water both up and downstream of the lower CRFFO section that receives little angling pressure after the first few weeks of the regular trout season opener. 

The section downstream of the lower CRFFO that run through the Allentown Park system is accessible by very well maintained trails, and there are plenty of trees to lend shade in the hotter summer months.

There are dedicated parking areas available at the Hatchery section and the regulated area near Wild Cherry Lane.  Other portions of the creek are easily accessible via roadside pulloffs (see map).

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Little Lehigh Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Allentown, 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.

Little Lehigh Creek near Allentown, PA

  • Temperature: 61.7 ° F
  • Streamflow: 65.6 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 0.27 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Little Lehigh Creek

The season for Little Lehigh Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout fishing season. The catch-and-release fly-fishing only sections are open year round. Because the water stays cool throughout the year, you could actually tackle this stream at any time.

Little Black Winter Stoneflies hatch during February and March, while the Little Black and Little Brown Stoneflies hatch in March and April. Blue Winged Olives hatch from the beginning of April to October. Towards the middle of April, the Blue Quill Hatch occurs. In the middle of May, the Pale Evening Duns and Sulphurs emerge. 

In the slower pools, you will find Yellow Drakes and White Flies. Caddisflies are also abundant, with Little Black Caddis and Cinnamon Caddis hatching in April. Other important year round hatches include Midges, Scuds, Sowbugs, and Terrestrials.

Summer is the best time to visit due to the infamous Trico hatch that usually gets underway around the 4th of July (the holiday makes it easy to remember). Late spring is also a good time due to all the insect activity. You can also tackle the stream on warmer winter days, and fall can be the best time for catching large brown trout.

Best Flies for Little Lehigh Creek

At Little Lehigh Creek, you should use long, light leaders and tippets. Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for Little Lehigh Creek:

  • Black Stonefly(#16)
  • Blue Quill (#18)
  • Orange Crane Fly (#18 – 20)
  • Tan Caddis (#16)  
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • Sulphur (#16)
  • Trico (#22 – 26)
  • Ants (#16 – 20)  
  • Beetles (#12 – 18)  
  • Caterpillars (#12)  
  • Grasshoppers (#10)  
  • Midges (various) (#20 – 24)

Need flies? 

The Fly Crate offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere.  Premium, high quality, hand-tied flies at a great price!

fly fishing flies from The Fly Crate

The Fly Crate Commits 2% of Sales to Aid Disabled Veterans

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Little Lehigh Creek.  A tapered 12-foot leader, with tippet size 5X to 7X (and sometimes down to 8x) to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

The waters of the Little Lehigh run gin clear and the wild brown trout in the stream are highly educated and very wary. It is not recommended that you attempt to wade this Creek, as you will likely spook the trout. However, there are some areas of the Creek where you must wade to reach the trout, so just be careful to move slowly in these sections. 

Little Lehigh Creek Fishing Reports

Available Little Lehigh Creek fly fishing reports 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.

Little Lehigh Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission websitewebsite.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Little Lehigh Creek is Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is less than a half hour away from your destination. You could also travel to Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport, but that will entail a longer car ride to the Creek (although the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside might make the extra time worth it!).

If you are looking for nearby locations to hang your bucket hat at night, The Comfort Inn Lehigh Valley West is a 13 minute drive from Little Lehigh Creek. They offer a delicious free breakfast and a fitness center. If you prefer staying at a campground, Lizard Creek Campground is less than an hour away from the stream. The campground offers its own stocked creek, but don’t let it distract you! Little Lehigh Creek is waiting.

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