Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The Tulpehocken Creek
Tailwater In Pennsylvania
Tulpehocken Creek is one of the few Pennsylvania
tailwater trout streams. Its cool water flows from the base of
Blue Marsh Dam and is home to some very nice size brown
and rainbow holdover trout. It is easy to wade but as with
most tailwaters, you should always check the discharges to
make sure it is safe to do so. The tailwater discharge from
the dam keeps the water cool for the trout even during the
The river has two tributary streams that also help keep the
water cool. Plum Creek, which within itself is a good small
stream fishery, and Cacoosing Creek, another good small
stream fishery both add to the diversity. Both Plum Creek
and Cacoosing Creek offer alternatives to fly fishing
Tulpehocken Creek, especially if the water is high. Plum
creek flows into the Tully below Rebers Bridge. Cacoosing
Creek flows into the Tully near the Paper Mill Road and
Tulpehocken Road junction.
Tulpehocken Creek is stocked with fingerling brown trout
as well as rainbows. The fingerlings grow fast and must
learn to rely on eating the natural foods from the stream.
Unlike large size trout that are stocked, they tend to act
more like wild, stream-bred trout, meaning they are more
difficult to catch. It pays to use good imitations of the
natural foods, such as our Perfect Flies.
Tulpehocken Creek is a large stream. Some sections are
over 120 feet wide. If the flows from the dam are suitable
for wading, getting around in the stream is usually fairly
easy. You should always use great care in exercising
caution fishing below any dam with turbines. Flows less
than 350 cfs are best for wading.
There is almost four miles of Delayed Harvest waters and
some more non-regulated water that holds trout. There are
deflectors that mark the beginning of the Delayed
Harvest area not far below the dam and picnic area. It
extends downstream for 3.8 miles. The area below that is
known as the Water Works area. The local Trout Unlimited
chapter placed the deflectors and also a few fish houses in
the area. They provide cover for the brown trout.
Tulpehocken Creek consist of a series of riffles, long
sections of flats and a few areas of pocket water. Access is
easy and as with any good trout stream, fishing pressure is
The Palisades flats and riffle section lies downstream of the
Water Works area and is also a very popular area to fish.
The flat consist of slower moving water and can be more
difficult to fish. You need to use better imitations of the
natural aquatic insects because the trout get a good look
at your flies. The Palisades riffle section is more of a
classical pool, run, riffle type of water. It includes some
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
The section above Rebers Bridge consist
mostly of pools with connecting slower, flowing
riffles. You will find both riffles and pocket
water below Rebers Bridge. During the
warmer months of the year, this areas is
cooled by water from Plum Creek. Cacoosing
Creek enters the Tully just
below the paper mill flats. Its cooler water also
helps the fish activity during the warmer
months of the year.
A series of slower moving pools and riffles
extends downstream to the long covered red
bridge at the end of the special regulation
Unlike many tailwater streams, the
Tulpehocken offer excellent dry fly fishing and
has several large hatches of aquatic insects.
The primary food are the various species of
caddisflies. They are very plentiful but there
are also several mayfly hatches, midges and
even some stoneflies in the stream.
The holdover trout can become very selective.
Many think it is pressure that causes it but it
isn't. It is the fact the stream has lots of food
and the trout soon learn to concentrate on
whatever is most plentiful and available.
Determining what that food is, is key to
catching Tulpehocken Creek trout. It isn't so
much "matching the hatch" as it is matching
what is about to hatch. Those would most
likely be the most plentiful insects.
Our hatch chart should be an aid in helping
to determining the most plentiful and
available food. Crustaceans and baitfish are
also important food for the trout. Sculpin is
another prime food.
Fly fishing Tulpehocken Creek with
consistent catches isn't exactly easy but
those anglers who study the flows and how it
relates to the trout feeding patterns can
become highly successful. Those who study
the insects and learn how to fish the
different hatches will always out catch those
anglers who use trial and error methods of
The Tully can produce good dry fly action
from April through September.
Late Spring can be especially good because
of the hatches.
Fly Fishing Guide for Tulpehocken
In the summer, the trout can tend to
concentrate in areas of cooler water. Although
the Tulpehocken is a tailwater, its source of
water comes from Tulpehocken Creek above
the lake which is a limestone spring creek. The
water has a good pH level coming into the lake
and the water stays quite fertile below Blue
Marsh Dam. It provides a good habitat for
aquatic insects. The stream does get a lot of
fishing pressure and the trout can get fairly
picky but they are still plenty catchable. The
special regulations water helps the stream
maintain a good healthy population of trout.
The Special Regulation water starts just below
the dam and runs almost four miles down to the
covered bridge. Considering the flows are
stable from the dam, this area acts more like a
freestone stream or spring creek than a
tailwater. It has a variety of water types
including some large pools, runs and riffles.
The Tulpehocken is fairly easy to wade so you
can get around in the stream pretty good. It
does have some deep holes and runs, so you
still have to be careful.
The fish are considered to be very selective
and picky. Local anglers claim it is due to the
constant pressure. I feel certain those trout
that have been stocked for a long time and
the holdover trout become very picky. I
doubt the newly stocked hatchery trout are
picky at all. At one time they stocked only
fingerling. At the current time, they are
stocking larger trout so that makes a big
difference in the way the trout react. I
recommend anglers fish for the holdover
trout matching the most available source of
food. You will end up catching just as many
stockers as you would fishing just any
generic nymph or dry fly. If nothing is
hatching, you wouldn't go wrong fishing
midge larvae or pupae imitations or caddisfly
Tulpehocken Creek Hatches and
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and nymphs,
not guess work. We base fly suggestions on
imitating the most plentiful and most available
insects and other foods at the particular time
you are fishing. Unlike the generic fly shop
trout flies, we have specific imitations of all
the insects in Tulpehocken Creek and in all
stages of life that is applicable to fishing. If
you want to fish better, more realistic trout
flies, have a much higher degree of success,
give us a call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
As mentioned in the introduction, the
Tulpehocken is fertile water because its
source of water, the upper Tulpehocken, is a
limestone spring creek. The lake changes the
chemistry some but it still provides a good
habitat for aquatic insects, especially
Several species of Blue-winged Olives hatch
from March until November. The hatches
dwindle down in the summer months with only
some hatches of small BWOs hatches. The
larger baetis and other larger olives hatch
mostly in March and April and again in
October. There are also some Little Black
and Little Brown Stoneflies that hatch early in
the year in March and April. Both are actually
"Little Brown" Stonefly family members.
Sulphurs hatch in late April through June and
into July sometimes. They are one of the
better mayfly hatches. Yellow Drakes hatch in
the summer anywhere from June to August
depending on the releases and water
Tulpehocken Creek Hatches, continued:
Slate Drakes hatch off and on in late summer
any large concentrations.any large
Tricos hatch from June until mid October.
These hatches are fairly consistent and
moderately substantial. Some anglers
consider this the best mayfly hatch.
The most plentiful aquatic insects, other than
maybe midges which hatch in large numbers
year-round, are the caddisflies. There are
several species including Green Sedges that
hatch in May and June; different species of
Cinnamon Caddis and Spotted Sedges (both
net-spinners) that hatch from late April into
July. Species of Little Sisters that hatch from
June to September; and Little Brown Caddis
that hatch in July and August. There are
several other minor species of caddisflies
that exist in this stream. Don't forget the
Terrestrial insects become important from
June to October. Imitations of grasshopper,
ants and beetles will catch their share of
Streamers work great at certain times,
depending on the releases and the water
clarity. Slightly off color water provide the
best opportunity for them.
As always, we recommend our own "Perfect
Flies". They not only are the most realistic
imitations, they are the most effective flies
you can use. We have imitations of all the
major caddisflies in their larvae (if
appropriate), pupae and adults stages of
life. We hope you give them a try.
The best time to fly fish the stream is during
the summer months.
Early Fall can be a very good time for fly
fishing Tulpehocken Creek.
Thumbnails: Click to enlarge
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: There's lots of rain
and snow in the forecast for the
coming week. The stream levels
currently are about normal but
reports are the water is stained.
We assume this is from the lake
turning over. Midges, little
Blue-winged olives, Winter
stoneflies and Black flies are
hatching. Check out the above
linked fishing report for the latest
10/16/15 The conditions on the creek are as good as they get during the fall season. Some
large brown trout are being caught on streamers. The weather is turning cooler this week.
Remember, this is a bottom discharge tailwater For that reason, it offers year-round opportunity
for anglers. Midges are key but there are currently many other options. Green Sedges and
Great Autumn Brown Caddis are hatching.
10/25/15 Tulpehocken Creek is flowing along slow and low enough to allow anglers to wade. It
has been high at times and may be in the near future. It is raining right now and there's a
chance again next week. Great Autumn Brown sedges are at the peak of their hatch and the
egg layers are bringing trout to the surface in the late afternoons to feed on them.
11/01/15 The stream levels are running a little high right now. They will probably run a little more
to get rid of the extra water from the last week of rain, but should be good to wade very soon.
Brown trout are nearing the actual spawn time. Blue-winged olives are hatching again and in two
sizes, 20 and 16. It is a good time to fish the Tulpehocken. Be sure to check the stream levels.
11/08/15 Stream levels have remained pretty good for the past week thanks to minimum
discharges most of the time. You will probably still have some good opportunities to wade this
coming week. Hatches are getting down to just about midges and various species of Blue-
winged olives. A great choice of fly to use now is the Brown Sculpin streamer. It will fool the post-
spawn hungry brown trout.
11/15/15 Stream levels have been high at times, making tough to impossible to wade but good
the last couple of days. There is a little rain forecast during the next week, so they should be
okay most of the time. The weather will be relatively warm. Hatches are midges and Blue-winged
olives. The Brown Sculpin has been the hot fly lately.
11/22/15 It has turned a little colder in this part of Pennsylvania but that will have little effect on
the tailwater temperature. It remains almost constant near the dam but does get affected by the
air temperature downstream a good ways. Midges and little Blue-winged olives are the only
things that should hatch. The Brown sculpin streamer should continue to produce some big
11/29/15 Stream levels and discharges have been good lately. Anglers have been able to wade
easily and catch trout. Midges are out performing anything. Small BWO nymphs are also working
good. The Brown sculpin streamer will get the larger trout, especially post-spawn browns. Heavy
rain is on the way and discharges could be high later this week.
12/07/15 Conditions for fly fishing the creek are excellent for this coming week. Stream levels
are currently good and most likely will remain good for at least most of the time. There is no
chance of rain in the forecast for the coming week. It is going to be warm and nice. We have
added Winter stoneflies to the list because they should begin to hatch in the near future.
12/13/15 The stream levels and discharges from the dam currently benefit the angler. They
should stay that way but there is some rain in the forecast for tomorrow and Thursday. Midges
and little BWO nymphs should be a first choice for flies. The Brown Sculpin should be first
choice if the skies are cloudy or its early or late. It has been catching some big brown trout the
12/20/15 This tailwater is in as good of condition as is possible for this time of the year. The
weather is nice and warm and there is plenty of cloud cover. Midges and little Blue-winged olive
nymphs is the best choice to use other than the Brown Sculpin streamer. The BWO could hatch
this coming week. It doesn't get any better than this at this time of the year.
12/27/15 Along with great, unseasonably warm weather comes rain and that's will be the case
for the next four days. Right now the discharges and stream levels are fine, but make certain
you check on the schedule. It will likely be high at times. Winter stoneflies, little Blue-winged
Olive nymphs, midges and the Brown Sculpin streamer are the flies you will need. It is a great
time to go provided the discharges are not high.
01/03/16 This tailwater will become more important to serious fly anglers now that the weather
has turned to normal wintertime conditions. It doesn't affect the water temperature very much on
the Tulpehocken but it sure does on many other Pennsylvania trout streams. Midges and Winter
stoneflies are the main aquatic insects to imitate.
01/10/16 The power company is running water right now to get the lake back to normal levels for
the winter. Things should be back to normal very soon. Midges and winter stonefly nymphs have
been catching trout for our customers. Notice we added Black flies to the list. They should begin
to hatch (and bite) soon.
01/17/16 The stream levels are back in good shape and we don't think the discharges will be
high anytime soon, but always check them. MIdges and Winter stoneflies remain the prime
insects to imitate. The Black flies should start hatching and biting anytime now.
01/31/16 Conditions are excellent right now. Let's just hope the rain coming the first of this week
isn't heavy. It is going to be much warmer, and little Blue-winged olives, size 20, could hatch.
Winter stoneflies and Black flies are hatching. Don't forget about the Brown and White Belly
02/07/16 The creek is flowing very high and fast right now. You will have to get the discharge
schedule from the power company or just watch the levels to know when they will cut back on the
discharges. Midges, both read and cream, and Winter stonefly nymphs will be the insects to
imitate when you can fish.
02/14/16 It appears they have the lake level down to where they want it. They have stopped
running a lot of water and the stream is flowing at a normal level for this time of the year. The
weather is going to be cold for a few days but warm back up by the end of the week. That makes
little difference on the fishing, just the comfort of those fishing.
02/21/16 The weather is going to be warmer and that will make it more comfortable for anglers
to fish. The stream levels are up and not safe to wade at this time. There is more rain forecast
but you will just have to watch the discharge schedule to know when you can wade. Midges are
still the main aquatic insects to imitate.
02/28/16 They are running a lot of water right now and the creek is very high. You will have to
wait a while to fish because it will probably be high a little while longer. There has been heavy
rainfall in the watershed. When it settles back down some but still high, streamers will first work
and then Midges, Winter stoneflies and Black flies.
03/06/16 The creek is in very good shape with good stream levels and discharges that are
normal for this time of the year. Midges, and little Blue-winged olives are hatching good and the
water warming us a little in the middle and lower sections. The weather will continue to be warm
with a chance of rain near the end of the week.
03/13/16 The river is in great shape right now, with Blue-winged olives and midges hatching in
large numbers. There is a lot of rain in the forecast, and the discharges and stream levels are
likely to increase sometimes this next week, so we hope you can go soon. The weather is
03/20/16 Good conditions continue to exist on Tulpehocken. Discharges are low and the creek
can be waded in many sections. Blue-winged olives and midges continue to hatch and the few
anglers that are fishing are catching plenty of trout. There is little rain or snow expected this
coming week and we think conditions will be good all week.
03/27/16 The creek is in great shape. The low discharges and water makes wading easy, and
catching easier as well. Try using Perfect flies and see what a difference more realistic flies can
make. Yes, trout can see nymphs better than adult insects on the surface, so that need to match
the real ones even more.
04/03/16 The best tailwater in Pennsylvania is a little low right now, but that just makes wading
easy. Stay low and hidden and make good presentations and you are likely to catch some hogs.
The Brown Sculpin streamer has ben producing well for our local customers. Midges and little
BWOs are still the main insects to imitate.
04/10/16 The discharges are up right now but we don't think the high stream levels will remain
high long. There is some more rain on the way, but it isn't expected to be heavy. The cold
weather has dropped the water temperature in the middle and lower sections of the river but it
will warm back up fast. LIttle Black Grannom caddis should start hatching very soon.
04/17/16 Great conditions exist right now on the river and there is little chance it is going to
change much. There is a little rain coming Thursday and Friday of this week but the stream
should remain easy to wade. The Grannon Caddis are hatching good and it won't be long
before the Sulphurs begin to hatch. Blue-winged olives are hatching good right now.
04/24/16 The tailwater is in good shape. Low discharges and good stream levels and clear
water exist. Little Black Caddis, or Grannoms, are hatching good along with lots of Blue Quills
and Blue-winged olives. There is a little rain in the forecast for the coming week but we don't
think it will adversely affect the discharges.
04/01/16 There are a lot of new hatches beginning to take place. Remember, the water
temperature varies from the dam to the lower river and so do the hatches. Three new species of
caddis are hatching. Most importantly, Sulphurs are beginning to hatch. There is a lot of rain in
the forecast this coming week and levels are likely to change, so keep checking them.
05/08/16 As of this morning, the discharges and stream levels are fine. There is a lot of rain in
the forecast, so there is a chnace this will change. You always should check on it. Lots of insects
are hatching and our customers are reporting catching trout and some on the dry fly. Three
species of caddis are hatching at this time.
05/15/16 Excellent conditions exist on the Tulpehocken tailwater right now and they are likely to
remain this way for the next week. Discharges are low enough that anglers can wade in many
places, and hatches are underway full stream ahead. The weather will be a little cooler but affect
the tailwater temperature very little if any.
05/22/16 The past week has been a good one. Anglers were able to wade safely most of the
time thanks to low discharges. There is a lot of rain in the forecast, so this may change but for
now conditions are as good as they get. Lots of insects are hatching and many are being caught
on top on dry flies.
05/29/16 The Tulpehocken is in very good shape with low discharges and good stream levels.
Anglers have been able to wade several locations recently. There is some rain through
tomorrow and again this weekend but we don't think it is going to make much changes in the
discharges. Sulphurs and two different caddis species are hatching.
06/05/16 The Tulpehocken is in as good of shape as it gets in the early summer months. Our
customers are sending in some very good reports. Of course, there are time is has been tough
to wade, it at all, but the levels have been good most of the time. Sulphurs and three Caddisfly
species are the main hatches taking place.
06/12/16 The tailwater is in good shape. The discharges have been low and provided anglers
some good opportunities to wade safely. That makes a big difference in the numbers of trout
caught. You have to keep a close check on the discharge schedule. Lots of Sulphurs are
hatching and caddisfly hatches and egg laying activity is bring trout to the net very often.
06/26/16 The tailwater is in very good shape. The discharges from the dam have been low
allowing a lot of good wading opportunity. There are still a lot of insects hatching and the egg
laying caddis activity in the late afternoons is especially good. Our customers are catching a lot
of trout late in the day, mostly on the surface.
07/03/16 The stream levels have been very low due to low discharges but that should change
some this coming week. There are chances of rain just about every day. Sulphurs and lots of
caddis are still hatching and our customers are still catching trout. In places, you have to use
stealth to fool them. At least you can wade many places in the river.
07/10/16 We received two very good reports from customers this past week. Both included some
rather large brown trout. Hatches will begin to slow down but there are still plenty more to come.
The Little Sister caddis are yet to start and one of the biggest caddisfly hatches. Don't switch to
terrestrial to soon, just because it is July. Tailwaters are different from the freestones.
07/17/16 There is a chance of rain through tomorrow, then clearing. The stream levels are low
and anglers able to wade just about anywhere. There are still plenty of hatches. The egg laying
caddis are bringing fish to the surface late in the afternoons. Terrestrials will soon start
07/24/16 The tailwater is cold coming out of the turbines but the discharges are low and the
water warms up fast downstream. Fish the upper section of the tailwater. The middle sections is
still okay but the lower sections of the river are a little to warm. Tricos are hatching good. Fish
early mornings and the last two hours of the day for the best results.
07/30/16 The tailwater is running a little high right now due to heavier discharges. It is raining
and will most likely continue to do so through Tuesday. It would be a little difficult to wade except
in certain locations, so you should keep a close eye on the levels. There are lots of Tricos
hatching as well as two species of caddisflies.
08/08/16 The discharges and stream levels are back low and wading is easy anywhere. The
water can get a little on the warm side in the lowest sections of the river, so fish from the middle
to the upper part with the low slow flows. There are still plenty of insects hatching and terrestrials
are also beginning to work good.
08/14/16 The creek is in great shape. There are some little BWOs hatching, a few Sulphurs left,
lots of Tricos and tons of caddisflies. Streamers are working good in the early mornings. Use the
Matuka Sculpin Olive and black patterns. If you can, fish the last two or three hours a day. That
is when the caddisflies are depositing eggs and trout are there to take advantage of it.
08/21/16 The creek is in good shape right now, with low discharges and low stream levels but it
is currently raining hard and this may change soon. There are lots of caddisflies and Tricos
hatching. The best time to fish the Tricos is the late morning spinner fall and early evening
hatch. The caddisflies deposit their eggs the last two to three hours of the day.
08/28/16 Caddisflies and more caddisflies are hatching. Trico clouds look like a storm is
approaching. Fish the spinner fall in the mornings. Remember, these mayflies are no larger than
a size 20. Too many junk fly patterns are larger than that. Also, remember the male dun and
male spinner look entirely different from the female dun and female spinner.
09/04/11 With the weather turning hot again, Tulpehocken is as good of a destination as you
could select at this time of the year. The discharges and stream levels are low and you can
wade most anywhere. There are lots of hatching taking place in the cool water - 3 species of
caddisflies, Tricos, little BWOs and imitations of terrestrial insects are working as well.
09/11/16 The discharges and resulting stream levels are a little high right now but will most likely
be dropping back down soon. There is little rain in the forecast for the coming week. The
weather is continuing to be a little warm and that is slowing down the hatches. We expect that to
change very soon and conditions improve.
09/18/16 It is raining and at least one of our customers is doing well today. The discharges and
stream levels are low and you have to stay hidden as best you can. Sculpin streamers fish
during low light conditions are getting some of the larger browns. Egg laying caddis are still thick
late in the afternoons, so don't quit fishing early in the day.
09/25/16 The discharges and stream levels have been up and down a little, but mostly in good
shape. Anglers have been able to wade much of the time. There are a lot of trout being caught.
The lower temperatures have them active and feeding. Terrestrial imitations are working as well
as matching the hatch. There is more rain in the forecast, so watch the levels.
10/02/16 The river is in good shape and our customers are catching good numbers of trout. The
Brown trout will be entering the pre-spawn stage this month and becoming aggressive.
Streamers like the Brown sculpin will get their attention. Hatches of Blue-winged olives and
Mahogany duns continue to be good and some trout are taking the dry flies well.
10/09/16 The discharges are currently running a little strong and the water a little high but that
will most likely subside soon. There isn't any rain in the forecast for the next week. There are still
plenty of insects hatching, especially Blue-winged olives and Mahogany duns. Cinnamon caddis
are still very plentiful as well.
10/16/16 The discharges continue to be strong making wading difficult to impossible. Our
assumption is the weather is much warmer and it is to generate more electricity. It sue isn't from
extra water in the lake. The is little chance of ny rain until maybe Friday and Saturday. The other
conditions are good. Just make sure you check with the power company on the schedule.
10/23/16 The weather is turning much cooler and the middle and lower sections of the river
have dropped a couple of degrees. The discharges and stream levels are running just a little
below normal and most likely will remain in that range. There is little rain in the forecast for the
coming week. Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage.
10/30/16 Conditions are as good as they can be at this time of the season. Some big Blue-
winged olives, baetis species, are hatching. Fish the BWO nymph mornings, Duns in the
afternoon and Spinners near dark. Sculpin streamers are likely to get you some big trout.
11/13/16 If you are one of those anglers that don't like to wade strong flows, now is the time for
you to fish the creek. It is low due to low discharges and likely to stay that way for a while. There
is little rain in the forecast. Our customers are catching good numbers of trout and some nice
size ones at that. Blue-winged olives and midges are hatching good.
11/20/16 The river is in good shape, with low discharges and good stream levels most all the
time. There is some snow and rain in the forecast and the weather is turning a little colder but it
only affects the middle and lower ends of the tailwater. Midges and Blue-winged olives are the
main hatches. Scuds and sculpin streamers are also working good.
11/27/16 A choice destination with a all the low water freestone streams in the area. Anglers are
catching good numbers of trout. Wading is easy thanks to low discharges and stream levels.
The water is in the low to mid forties thanks to the bottom tailwater discharge. The Sculpin
streamer, blue-winged olives and Midges should work good.