Lancaster County is well-known in Pennsylvania as a popular tourist destination, because of its beautiful, historic scenery and large Amish population. Some of the most famous attractions include Dutch Wonderland, the Rock Ford Plantation, and the Strasburg Rail Road. But few outsiders know that nestled in Lancaster County is a delightful creek for fly fishing.The West Branch of Octoraro Creek offers 15 miles of catch-and-release water teeming with trout. So if you are able to resist checking out some of the other attractions in the area, you are guaranteed to catch some trout for your troubles.
The West Branch of Octoraro Creek is a 15 mile long tributary of the Susquehanna River that runs entirely in Lancaster County. The branch begins about a mile south of Green Tree. It is formed by the confluence of Meetinghouse Creek, Mine Run, and another smaller, unnamed creek near Ninepoints.
Pennsylvania possesses more covered bridges than any other state, so it’s no surprise that the Creek flows under multiple bucolic bridges. The West Branch flows under the Jackson’s Sawmill Covered Bridge, which is located northwest of Bartville. The stream then continues for a few miles through a valley, with the valley eventually widening. The West Branch passes under Puseyville Road, Noble Road at Kings Bridge, and the under White Rock Forge Covered Bridge at White Rock. After that, the stream joins Lake Octoraro, around two miles east of Oak Shade.The Creek flows through Black Rock Gorge on its journey from Ninepoints to Octoraro Lake. A 2.0-mile section just below the gorge is managed as fly fishing and catch-and-release only. The fishery offers consistent results, so it’s a pretty safe bet that you will catch trout here.
Click map icons to get directions to fishing spots.
The Creek is separated into two distinct areas, which are separated by Puseyville Road. The upper part of the branch mostly consists of pools, while the downstream area is comprised of meadows and manmade structures. Access to the stream is good near Puseyville Road and the State Game Land No. 136 parking area (see map).
The stream is accessible to wade fishermen, unless otherwise posted.
The season for the West Branch of Octoraro Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout fishing season. Spring is the best time to visit due to good early season hatches. The stream does warm in the summer and it is best to find cooler waters to fish at this time of the year. Fishing picks up in the fall as water temperatures drop.
Try tackling the stream early in the morning, or in the later hours of the day.
Hatches on Octoraro Creek are typical of eastern PA freestone streams. Here is a list of generally recommended patterns for Pennsylvania trout streams to consider.
Little Blue Winged Olive (#16-20)
Blue Quill (#16-18)
Quill Gordon (#12-14)
Red Quill (#14)
March Brown (#10-12)
Gray Fox (#10-12)
Light Cahill (#14)
Blue Winged Olive (#14-18)
Slate Drake (#12-14)
Hare's Ear nymph (#12-14)
Pheasant Tail nymph (#12-14)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on West Branch Octoraro Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
There aren't any area fly shops or guides (that I'm aware of) that publish a West Branch Octoraro Creek fly fishing reports.
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 in the fly-fishing only section is limited to artificial flies and streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials, as long as all flies are constructed with components wound on or about the hook. Fishing must be done with tackle limited to fly rods, fly reels and fly line with leader material or monofilament line attached. Anything other than these items is prohibited.
West Branch Octoraro Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Because Lancaster is such a popular tourist spot, you’ll find plenty of reasonably priced accommodations in the area. The Red Roof Inn in Lancaster is perfect for the budget minded angler, with low prices and a free continental breakfast and fitness center.
Lancaster is also a favorite camping location for many people, and it’s not difficult to see why. Old Mill Stream Campground is situated on a peaceful stream in close proximity to Dutch Wonderland. They are open year round and offer laundromats, clean restrooms, and their own country store. This is a particularly good choice if you are traveling with small children, as they also have their own playground.
While it is always a treat to take on an angling adventure solo, the West Branch of Octoraro Creek can be a fun addition to a family vacation in Lancaster. Check out our other Southeast Pennsylvania fly fishing guides to see what else you should see in the area!
Feature Image by Editorofthewiki
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lower Stanislaus River in California
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Mokelumne River in California
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lower American River in California
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Yellowstone Lake
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Snake River in Yellowstone National Park
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lower Yuba River in California
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park
DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Feather River in California