Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Wissahickon Creek in Southeast Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

December 17, 2019

Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania

Wissahickon Creek is a beautiful place, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Instead, take it from Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote about the Creek in his 1844 essay, “Morning on the Wissahiccon”:

“Now the Wissahiccon (sic) is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue.”

Wissahickon Creek has been the subject of literature, paintings, songs; there was even an annual Wissahickon Creek Day, celebrated by the social elite. The stream has also been featured in the blockbusters The Last Airbender and Blow-Out. Nowadays, Wissahickon Creek is perhaps most appreciated by anglers. If you visit, you’ll understand why.

About Wissahickon Creek

Fly fishing Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania

The term “Wissahickon” comes from the Lenape term “wiessahitkonk,” which means “catfish creek” or “stream of yellowish color.” The Creek is a tributary of the Schuylkill River, in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. It runs for approximately 23 miles, rising in Montgomery county and joining the Schuylkill at Philadelphia. 

The Creek runs through parklands, and its valley, Wissahickon Valley, is well known for being one of 600 National Natural Landmarks of the United States. The stream’s beauty attracts more than just anglers, so you’ll see plenty of hikers and dog walkers along the banks.

The stream is fed by multiple tributaries, including Prophecy Creek, Trewellyn Creek, Willow Run, and Paper Mill Run. 

Every part of this stream is fishable, with plenty of stocked rainbow and brown trout, along with smallmouth bass, rock bass, and redbreast sunfish. While the wild beauty of the stream is sure to catch your attention, it might just be the trout and bass population that keep you coming back for more.

Wissahickon Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Wissahickon Creek

The stream can be easily accessed from Wissahickon Valley Park, with the most popular trail being Forbidden Drive. All visitors of the Park must stay on the marked trails, to help protect against erosion. Pay attention to the color of the trails, as they will indicate who is permitted access on certain paths.

The stream provides good fishing in every part of its reaches, so you don’t have to worry about tackling a specific area. The best places to fish are in currents, deep pools, slow pools, and under the dams.The Creek is also accessible to wade fishermen.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Wissahickon Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Fort Washington, 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.

Wissahickon Creek at Fort Washington, PA

  • Streamflow: 75.7 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.77 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Wissahickon Creek

The season for fishing Wissahickon Creek is standard Pennsylvania trout season. Opening day is April 1 and the stream is stocked at the beginning of each season.

Spring is the best time to visit due to the insect activity, but you will also have luck in the fall, especially when it comes to snagging the larger brown trout. 

Best Flies for Wissahickon Creek

The water quality in Wissahickon Creek has been degraded over the years due to development in the urban environment through which it runs.

As such the aquatic insect life here is limited to a few hardier insects, namely several caddis varieties and midges.  Surprisingly, there is also an abundant population of scuds in the creek.  

Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for Wissahickon Creek:

  • Hare’s Ear nymph (#10-12)
  • Pheasant Tail nymph (#12-14)
  • Midges (various) (#20-24)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#12-14)
  • Scuds (#12-14)

Gear Recommendations

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

Wissahickon Creek Fishing Reports

There aren’t any area fly shops or guides (that I’m aware of) that publish Wissahickon 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.

Wissahickon Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Wissahickon Creek is Philadelphia International Airport. Another nearby option is Lehigh Valley International Airport, which is about an hour away from your destination.

If you are looking for reasonably priced accommodations in the area, The Days Inn by Wyndham Philadelphia on Roosevelt Boulevard offers close proximity to major Philadelphia attractions and a free continental breakfast. 

Of course, some of us just can’t resist staying at a beautiful campground. Brandywine Creek Campground is only 45 minutes away. Located in a picturesque environment, this campground offers a bath house with private rooms and free WiFi.

Wissahickon Creek has attracted many admirers, including Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Thomas Moran, and James Peale. So when you fall in love with fishing Wissahickon Creek, know that you are in good company.

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

Feature Image by Alphageekpa