Pennsylvania boasts 56 limestone streams, so why should you choose Monocacy Creek?
For starters, Monocacy Creek has an excellent population of brown trout, and even features a section that is classified as Class A Wild Trout Waters by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Despite the fact that Monocacy Creek flows through highly developed areas, it is still situated in picturesque scenery that will make your jaw drop.
Additionally, the Creek has an impressive insect hatch and easy access. What more could you ask for?
Fly fishing Monocacy Creek, an urban limestone stream in runs through the suburbs of historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Monocacy Creek is a tributary of the Lehigh River in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The stream’s headwaters are located in the slate belt near Chapman. From Chapman, Monocacy Creek flows for 20.3 miles through Lehigh Valley. It has its confluence with the Lehigh River in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Despite its shared name, this Creek is not connected to Monocacy River in Maryland. Several organizations are working together to maintain the beauty of this Creek.
You’ll want to be careful when tackling this stream, as there are some sections of private water in this creek. One of the Class A section of the stream is situated between State Road 987 and State Road 248. The second Class A section is between the Fox Gertrude Conservation Area and the Illicks Mill Dam.
At Monocacy Creek, you’ll see plenty of wild and stocked brown trout, plus some stocked rainbow and brook trout. This Creek is easily accessible and teeming with trout! So what are you waiting for?
Monocacy Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Spots to Fish Monocacy Creek
The best fishing area is the regulated area near Fox Gertrude Conservation Area, which has a superb brown trout population. The section below this area is stocked and easily accessed from roads that lead off of Center Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Creek is easily accessed by wade fishermen.
Additionally, between highway 512 and US Highway 22, there are stocked brown trout and some wild browns. This section is easily accessible. You can also visit the Class A section between State Road 987 and State Road 248. At Monocacy Creek, you have plenty of choices about where to cast your line!
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Monocacy Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Bethlehem, 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.
Monocacy Creek at Bethlehem, PA
- Streamflow: 34.5 ft³/s
- Gage height: 2.30 ft
Best Time to Fish Monocacy Creek
The season is the regular Pennsylvania trout season. The lower sections of Monocacy Creek are wider. This section remains cool all summer long.
The biggest hatches of Monocacy Creek are Tricos and Sulphurs. Because of this hatch, the best time to visit Monocacy Creek is the spring. However, because of its cool water, you can fish Monocacy Creek successfully on all but the coldest days of the year. Fall can be a particularly good time to visit, as you will find larger brown trout during this time.
Best Flies for Monocacy Creek
You’ll want to make sure you have the correct imitations before heading out to Monocacy Creek.
Here is a list of some of the best flies for Monocacy Creek:
- Blue Winged Olive (#20 - 22)
- Blue Quill (18)
- Tan Caddis (#14 - 18)
- Light Cahill (#14)
- Sulphur (#16)
- Midges (various) (#20 - 24)
- Ants (#16 - 20)
- Beetles (#12 - 18)
- Caterpillars (#12)
- Trico (#24)
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 Monocacy Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.
Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.
High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.
Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet. 3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.
Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable. If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.
Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market. Excellent foot and ankle support. Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.
Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!
Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats. Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish. Simply the best nets on the market.
Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam. If you need more storage - you have too many flies!
Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.
Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.
The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes. Game changer.
Note: DIY Fly Fishing earns a commission (at no cost to you) on sales made using the links above. Thank you for your support!
Monocacy Creek Fishing Reports
There aren't an area fly shops (that I'm aware of) that publish Monocacy Creek fly fishing reports, but there are a couple of on-line reports from local anglers that provide some good info (links 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.
Monocacy Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Trip Planning Tips
The nearest airport to Monocacy Creek is Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is litterally 15 minutes away from the stream. Philadelphia International Airport is another option that is a little over an hour away from Monocacy. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.
If you are looking for a reasonably priced option, Knights Inn in Allentown is only about 15 minutes away from Monocacy Creek. This pet friendly location is in close proximity to other attractions in the area.
If you would rather sleep under the stars, Otter Creek Campground offers good prices and has its own camp store. They reopen on April 15, 2020 for the spring season.
Every fly fisherman should visit a Pennsylvania limestone stream, so why not visit Monocacy Creek? We promise you, it is worth the trip!
Feature Image by Tim Kiser