The Lehigh River begins high in the Pocono Mountains near the town of Gouldsboro and continues for 103 miles until it’s confluence with the Delaware River at Easton. The Lehigh is the largest tributary to the Delaware and in colonial times it was actually called the West Branch of the Delaware River. For many years industry took it’s toll on the ecosystem of the Lehigh River but thanks to environmental progress it has rebounded in a big way, the Lehigh currently benefits from a level of water quality not seen on this river for over 175 years. Currently the Lehigh suffers from inadequate releases from the FE Walter Dam operated by the USACE, but the fishery has improved greatly despite this thermal obstacle and has the potential to be a world class fishery if the problem can be solved.

Interesting, but how good is the Lehigh River for fishing? Fantastic!!! Thanks in no small part to the tremendous efforts of the Lehigh River Stocking Association, the river is teeming with trout. Established in 1991, the LRSA has stocked hundreds of thousands of trout ranging from fingerlings to trophy monsters. With such an aggressive stocking program it wasn’t long before the stocked fish began to make spawning runs up river and the combined spawning of wild fish and stocked fish is evident today in various parts of the fishery. Brookies, Brownies, and Bows can be found from Gouldsboro to Walnutport. The water quality improvements have also fostered more habitat for the aquatic insects that are so important for the health of the fishery. Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies abound in the Lehigh River and hatches can be thick and productive for Blue Winged Olives, March Browns, Slate Drakes, Sulphurs, Hendricksons and more. The growth of trout raised in the Lehigh can be amazing due to the adundance of food in the form of the previously mentioned aquatic insects, crayfish, minnows and terrestrial insects, all of which can provide the fly fisherman with some incredible fishing opportunities.

Anyone who has ever fished the Mighty Lehigh can tell you that wading is no easy task. It takes a good understanding of what flow conditions are wadeable at which locations to make for safe wading. Still, cautious and strong waders can be treated with excellent trout fishing from April through June with the fishing picking up again in mid to late September and continuing well into November. Winter fishing is possible but highly discouraged as a slip into the Lehigh during the winter months could prove dangerous.

Most fishing is done with rods of 9′ or longer, in line weights from 5wt to 7wt. Floating lines are most useful for all around fishing while some prefer sink tip lines for wet fly and streamer fishing. Leaders can range in length from 7′ to 10′ in sizes from 2X to 6X depending on the type of fishing that you’ll be doing on any given day. A good reel with a smooth disc drag and 100yds of backing can be important if you hook into a Lehigh Lunker. An assortment of strike indicators and splitshot help to get your offerings in the strike zone and keep them there longer and floatant is often necessary to keep your flies aloft in the faster water. An assortment of attractor and general use flies such as Copper Johns, Wooly Buggers, Pheasant Tails, Royal Wullfs, CDC Caddis, Stimulators, Parachute Adams, etc. will work most of the time with a decent presentation but sometimes a more hatch specific pattern is necessary for consistent action.

Fishing the Lehigh River during an excellent hatch can be a real treat and a good chance to catch a real lunker on a dry fly. Some of our favorite hatches include the Slate Drake, March Brown, Grey Fox, Sulphur, Cornuta, Blue Winged Olives(BWO), and all of the awesome caddis hatches that happen throughout the year. The occasional strong stonefly hatch can get the fish feeding on stones during breezy days on the Lehigh River. The broad range of water types on the river creates a variety of habitats for aquatic insects from top to bottom. One good afternoon in the stretch we call the Olive Garden and you’ll be hooked for life!


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