Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Yellow Breeches in South-Central Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 7, 2024

Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania

While nobody knows exactly how Yellow Breeches Creek got its name, there is one thing that everybody can agree on: Yellow Breeches deserves a spot on every angler’s bucket list. 

Yellow Breeches is world famous for its fishery, offering over 30 miles of open water teeming with stocked and wild trout. The area is also surrounded by smaller spring creeks and mountain streams, so there is plenty of water for the adventurous angler to explore.

It should come as no surprise that Yellow Breeches has been designated as one of Pennsylvania’s Scenic Rivers.

Fair warning before you continue reading:  if you visit Yellow Breeches Creek, you might never want to leave!

About Yellow Breeches

Fly Fishing Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania

Yellow Breeches Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. The Creek rises on the northwestern side of South Mountain, located in Michaux State Forest. From there, it flows north through Walnut Bottom, before turning east into Cumberland Valley. It then passes through Huntsdale, the site of a state fish hatchery. It is joined by Mountain Creek and Boiling Springs. 

Below Williams Grove, it forms the boundary between York and Cumberland counties. Yellow Breeches then flows through Messiah College Campus, before being joined by Stony Run and Pippins Run. The Creek then turns north and empties into the Susquehanna River.

Yellow Breeches is heavily stocked with brown, rainbow, and brook trout. There is also a decent amount of wild trout as well that can be very selective. The most popular section of Yellow Breeches is located between Boiling Springs and Allenberry Resort. This is a catch and release only area and is alive with trout. 

Anglers can expect excellent populations of trout and a broad spectrum of insect hatches. Yellow Breeches snakes its way through scenic farms, towns, woodlots, and residential areas for miles. So while you are reeling in all those trout, be sure to look up once in awhile. Otherwise, you’ll miss a fantastic view!

Yellow Breeches Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Yellow Breeches Creek near Boiling Springs PA

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

Best Spots to Fish Yellow Breeches

There are many access points along Yellow Breeches, most of which are located near bridges or local parks. Keep in mind that Yellow Breeches flows through private property, so you will want to keep an eye on signage. The catch and release area is best accessed from the parking lot at the south end of Boiling Springs Lake. You can also access this area by getting off of Criswell Road. 

The catch and release section of Yellow Breeches, located near Boiling Springs, is the most popular section of the Creek, but there are plenty of trout to be had in the reaches upstream of Route 15. 

Ready for some  good news? You’ll find a good population of trout in any part of this stream!

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Yellow Breeches. The USGS stream gauge near Camp Hill, 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 maybe not be ideal.

Yellow Breeches Creek near Camp Hill, PA

  • Streamflow: 662 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.77 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Yellow Breeches

At Yellow Breeches Creek, there is no shortage of insects for the trout to munch on. In March and April, the Blue-winged Olives hatch, and then hatch again in August and September. In early May, the March Browns and Sulphurs hatch and last until June.

Light Cahills and Yellow Drakes begin hatching in June. By July, you’ll start seeing Tricos. The White Drakes begin to hatch in early August and last until early September. When September hits, you’ll see Slate Drakes.

Scuds and caddisflies are plentiful in this region. The most common caddisflies you’ll see in Yellow Breeches are Cinnamon and Spotted Sedges. Terrestrials are also important, particularly in summer and early fall. 

The best time to tackle Yellow Breeches is in the spring or summer, because of the insect hatches. April might be the best month, due to the Blue Winged Olives and Hendrickson hatch, but in the summer you’ll see the famed White Drakes. 

Because Yellow Breeches has spring water feeding it, the temperature remains constant throughout the year. So perhaps the best time to tackle Yellow Breeches is as soon as possible!

Best Flies for Yellow Breeches

At Yellow Breeches, you’ll want to stick to the shallow riffles and flat water pools. Keep your flies floating along the seams and watch out for rises.

The trout in Yellow Breeches can be wily, so you’ll need excellent imitations to fool them.

Regarding fly patterns, here is a list of some of the best flies for Yellow Breeches:

  • Blue Winged Olive (#20)
  • Little Black Stonefly (#16)
  • Blue Quill (#18)
  • Hendrickson (#14)
  • Red Quill (#14)
  • Blue Winged Olive (#14)
  • Gray Fox (#14)
  • March Brown (#12)
  • Slate Drake (#12 – 14)
  • Sulphur (#16)
  • Light Cahill (#14 – 16)
  • Yellow Drake (#12)
  • Terrestrials (various) (#16-20)  
  • Slate Drake (#6 – 8)
  • Trico (#24)
  • White Fly (#14-16)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-ft 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies, nymphs and small streamers on Yellow Breeches.  A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Yellow Breeches Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Yellow Breeches fly fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.

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.

Yellow Breeches fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Yellow Breeches is Harrisburg International, which is located about forty five minutes away from your destination. However, you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Southern Pennsylvania and arrive at Yellow Breeches after a few hours of scenic driving.

Econo Lodge is a mere seven minutes away from Yellow Breeches. Econo Lodge offers affordable rates and close proximity to other nearby attractions, like Hershey Park and the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. 

If you would rather sleep under the stars, Yellow Breeches is surrounded by excellent campgrounds. Mountain Creek Campground is only a half hour away from the creek. Mountain Creek is well known for its friendly staff and beautiful views.

No matter where you choose to stay, you’re bound to fall in love with Yellow Breeches Creek.

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

Feature Image by Swampyank