Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing West Branch Octoraro Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 4, 2024

West Branch Octoraro Creek in Pennsylvania

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 Railroad. But few outsiders know that a delightful creek for fly fishing is nestled in Lancaster County. 

The West Branch of Octoraro Creek offers 15 miles of catch-and-release water teeming with trout. If you can resist checking out some of the other attractions in the area, you are guaranteed to catch some trout for your troubles.

About West Branch Octoraro Creek

The West Branch of Octoraro Creek is a 15-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River that runs entirely in Lancaster County. It begins about a mile south of Green Tree and 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, located northwest of Bartville. The stream then continues for a few miles through a valley, which eventually widens. The West Branch passes under Puseyville Road, Noble Road at Kings Bridge, and the 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 from Ninepoints to Octoraro Lake. A 2.0-mile section 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.

West Branch Octoraro Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on West Branch Octoraro Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish West Branch Octoraro Creek

The Creek is divided into two distinct areas by Puseyville Road. The upper part of the branch mostly consists of pools, while the downstream area comprises 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.

Best Time to Fish West Branch Octoraro Creek

The West Branch of Octoraro Creek’s trout fishing season 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.

Best Flies for Octoraro Creek

Hatches on Octoraro Creek are typical of eastern PA freestone streams.

Here is a list of generally recommended patterns for Pennsylvania trout streams.  The best flies for Octoraro Creek are those that match the hatch!

  • Little Blue Winged Olive (#16-20)
  • Blue Quill (#16-18)
  • Quill Gordon (#12-14)
  • Hendrickson (#12)
  • Red Quill (#14)
  • Sulphurs (#14-16)
  • 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)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a 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.

West Branch Octoraro Creek Fishing Reports

There aren’t any area fly shops or guides (that I’m aware of) that publish West Branch Octoraro Creek fly fishing reports.

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.

Fishing in the fly-fishing-only section is limited to artificial flies and streamers made of natural or synthetic materials as long as all flies have components wound on or about the hook. Fishing must be done with tackle limited to fly rods, fly reels, and fly lines with leader material or monofilament lines attached. Anything other than these items is prohibited.

West Branch Octoraro Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

Lancaster is a popular tourist spot with plenty of reasonably priced accommodations. For budget-minded anglers, the Red Roof Inn in Lancaster is perfect, as it offers low prices, a fitness center, and a complimentary continental breakfast.

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 near Dutch Wonderland. It is open year-round and offers laundromats, clean restrooms, and a country store. This is a particularly good choice if you are traveling with small children, as it also has a playground.

While solo angling adventures are always a treat, 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! 

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

Feature Image by Editorofthewiki