Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Monocacy Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 6, 2024

Monocacy Creek in Pennsylvania

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 classified as Class A Wild Trout Waters by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Even though Monocacy Creek flows through highly developed areas, it is still 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?

About Monocacy Creek

Fly fishing Monocacy Creek, an urban limestone stream that runs through the suburbs of historic Bethlehem,  Pennsylvania.

Monocacy Creek is a tributary of the Lehigh River in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and one of four limestone spring creeks in the Lehigh Valley. The other area limestones include Little Lehigh Creek, Saucon Creek, and Bushkill Creek.

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 confluences with the Lehigh River in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Despite its shared name, this Creek is not connected to the Monocacy River in Maryland. Several organizations are working together to maintain its beauty.

You’ll want to be careful when tackling this stream, as some sections of private water are in this creek. One of the stream’s Class A sections is between State Road 987 and 248. The second Class A section is between the Fox Gertrude Conservation Area and the Illicks Mill Dam.

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

map of fishing spots on Monocacy Creek in Pennsylvania

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

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. 

Wade fishermen easily access the Creek. 

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 248. You have plenty of choices about where to cast your line!

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before fishing 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 seven days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart), fishing conditions may not be ideal.

Monocacy Creek at Bethlehem, PA

  • Streamflow: 62.2 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.46 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Monocacy Creek

The biggest hatches on Monocacy Creek are Tricos and Sulphurs. Because of these hatches, the best time to visit is spring and summer. The lower sections of the creek are wider, and they remain cool all summer long.

Fall can be a particularly good time to visit, as larger brown trout are more active. The creek can be fished successfully on all but the coldest days of the year.

Best Flies for Monocacy Creek

You’ll want to have the correct imitations before heading to fish.

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)  
  • Grasshoppers(#10)  
  • Trico (#24)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the creek.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Monocacy Creek Fishing Reports

There aren’t any area fly shops (that I’m aware of) that publish Monocacy Creek fly fishing reports, but a couple of online reports from local anglers provide some good info (links below).

Fishing Regulations

The season is the regular Pennsylvania trout season. 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.

Fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to the creek is Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is 15 minutes away from the stream. Philadelphia International Airport is another option that is 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.

Knights Inn in Allentown is only about 15 minutes away from the creek, so if you want a reasonably priced option, this pet-friendly location is near other attractions in the area. 

If you would rather sleep under the stars, Otter Creek Campground offers good prices and has a camp store.

Every fly fisherman should visit a Pennsylvania limestone stream, so why not visit Monocacy Creek? We promise you it will be worth the trip!

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

Feature Image by Tim Kiser