North-Central Pennsylvania has plenty of excellent freestone trout streams, so what makes Lycoming Creek so special?
Well for one thing, the creek is one of the most heavily stocked streams in the area.
But it might just be its breathtaking scenery that will make you fall in love with Lycoming Creek.
Bordered by thick overhangs of beautiful oak, buttonwood, cherry, and beech trees, Lycoming Creek might just be the most picturesque option for fly fishing in Pennsylvania.
Fly fishing Lycoming Creek in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania
Lycoming Creek is roughly 37.5 miles long and is a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River. Its river source is in Tioga County. The center of Lycoming Creek, located around Grays Run, is a heavily wooded area of Tiadaghton State Forest. There is a 1.4 mile delayed-harvest area from the county line downstream, finishing at Sandy Bottom.
The area from Cogan Station to the confluence of Roaring Branch is heavily stocked through late spring. You’ll most likely find brown trout and brook trout, but you might see some rainbow trout as well.
Some of the smaller streams, some of which are Class wild trout streams, that feed Lycoming Creek include Pleasant Stream, Grays Run, Roaring Branch, Hoagland Run, and Trout Run.
Fly fishermen can expect good riffles and pool water in Lycoming Creek. Because of its thick overhang, the water stays generally cool throughout the year.
Lycoming Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Spots to Fish Lycoming Creek
Unfortunately, there are no dedicated state access points along Lycoming Creek. Still, there are a good selection of crossing bridges that are easily accessible. Some commercial campgrounds surrounding the area also provide some access.
North from Williamsport, Route 15 and old Route 15 parallel Lycoming Creek, all the way to Trout Run. You can choose where you would like to fish from the highway, although you might want to stick to Route 14. Located above Trout Run, Route 14 runs tight against Lycoming Creek. Along this section, you will find great riffles and large pools.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Lycoming Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Trout Run, 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 maybe not be ideal.
Lycoming Creek near Trout Run, PA
- Flow: 85.5 ft³/s
- Water Level: 1.84 ft
Best Time to Fish Lycoming Creek
The best time to visit Lycoming Creek is during the standard Pennsylvania trout season.
In addition to the pre season stocking, the upper reaches of Lycoming Creek are stocked again in mid April and mid May. The thick overhang of trees keeps the stream cool until late May.
Hatches on Lycoming Creek are fairly typically of a Pennsylvania freestone stream. Blue-winged olives (BWOs) and early black stoneflies kick off the season in mid-March. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, and Hendrickson begin to emerge in mid-April.
Mayfly hatches kick into full gear in late May and June with March Browns, Light Cahills, Sulphurs, and green, brown and slate drakes.
The fall is a beautiful time to be on the water too and you can expect to see small BWOs, slate drakes and October caddis.
Fly Box - What You'll Need
The trout in Lycoming Creek can be picky, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right flies. Here are some of the best flies for Lycoming Creek:
- Caddis (#16)
- Little Blue Wing Olive (#14-16)
- Quill Gordon (#12)
- Pheasant Tail (#14)
- Hare’s Ear (#12)
- Prince Nymph (#12)
- Sulphur (#16)
- 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 Lycoming Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Lycoming Creek Fishing Reports
There are area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Lycoming Creek fly fishing reports. Some to check out are listed below:
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.
Lycoming Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Trip Planning Tips
The closest major airport to Lycoming Creek is Williamsport Regional Airport. It is only a half hour drive to the Creek from the airport, so you’ll be fly fishing before you know it!
However, you could also utilize any of Northern Pennsylvania’s major or municipal airports, if you don’t mind a couple hours of scenic driving to reach your destination.
Because of its proximity to Williamsport Regional Airport, there are many lodging choices around Lycoming Creek. Econo Lodge is only a twenty minute drive from Lycoming County, and offers on site dining and free Wi Fi. The Budget Inn is a little bit closer to Lycoming Creek, and has complimentary breakfasts.
If you are looking for a campground, it is hard to beat Haleeka Campground, both in terms of convenience (it’s a mere thirteen minute drive to get to the Creek) and flourishing wildlife. Sheshequin Campground is another nearby option, but it can get pretty packed during peak season, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you might want to hold off on visiting in the spring.
Feature Image by US Census, Ruhrfisch