Copyright 2018 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 (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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Headlines: The stream levels are
way down from last week, but still
a little high. It is falling and
hopefully will be back down to
normal levels very soon, maybe
by tomorrow. There isn't any rain
forecast until next week. Check
out the above linked fishing report
for the latest information.