Tulpehocken Creek, aka The Tully, is a tailwater fishery, although some do fish it above Blue Marsh Lake. The Tully behaves like a limestoner in respect to it’s tricky currents. The challenging drifts, plentiful food items, and the heavy pressure it receives cause it’s trout act like picky spring creek trout but it’s not the toughest stream around and the reward, usually a nice healthy rainbow, is well worth the effort. Recent changes in stocking policy have cause mixed feeling about The Tully but it remains a great place to fish for trout and a great place to get away from the urban sprawl of Reading. with nearly four miles of special regs and a few more miles of general reg water there is plenty of room to find a little peace and quiet in a beautiful setting.The Special Regs section of Tulpehocken Creek Begins a short distance below Blue Mash Dam and extends for 3.8 miles downstream to Red Bridge Park. In this section of the stream anglers will find riffles, runs and pools of all manner to fish and explore. Trout are spread throughout but may congregate in periods of high temperature and low water when water temps can rise to unlheathy levels for the fish, we recommend not fishing during these times. Dip your thermometer, if it’s much over 70º then it’s better to leave the fish alone. Click here to see the current water temperature at the Water Works guaging station.
In the past, Tulpehocken Creek was stocked with 10-12,000 fingerling trout every fall. Because of water quality problems associated with the dam, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has switched to an adult trout stocking. This policy has caused some confusion and anger among Tully enthusiasts especially when fingerlings stocked in the fall of 2005 made it through to the srping of 2006 with flying colors only to be pitted against larger, more aggressive stocked adult trout. Though the PFBC has discontinued the fingerling stocking the Tully TU Chapter will try to continue this practice. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, we prefer the fingerling trout ourselves, adult stocked trout is something we’ll all have to learn to live with on the Tully in coming years.
The hottest times to hit the Tully are during Trico and Caddis hatches and when terrestrial insects are present in large numbers, though blue winged olive hatches and cranefly hatches usually make for outstanding hatches as well. You can check the hatch chart below for other hatches but the best tip we can give Tully novices is when observing the stream and trying to determine what the trout are eating, Caddis and midges usually edge out larger mayflies when both are present. Many an angler has watched in amazement while a trout has picked off small caddis and midges hatching in between a floatilla of Sulphurs or Slate Drakes!
Caddis are the main food source of Tulpehocken Creek trout . When no hatch is on we recommend a tandem nymph rig with a caddis larva and an attractor like the infamous Green Weenie. Often trout will key in on the smallest caddis when larger caddis are hacthing at the same time. Pupa imitations, such as the LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa or Deep Sparkle Pupa, are very effective when caddis are actively emerging. CDC Caddis are also extremely effective as they can be fished dry, or damp and in the film as an emerger, where they are usually more productive even if you can’t see them. Spent caddis caddis will sometimes stir trout into surface action as well.
Tricos are a fun hatch on the Tully although lately the hatches of these infinitesimal insects are not as thick as they once were. Some have blamed water quality issues in the Dam for this and for lower survival rates of stocked fingerlings. Nevertheless, there are plenty of trout and plenty of teeny, tiny tricos to go around. To encounter this hatch get to the stream early, like daybreak, and you’ll find the female duns hatching during which time trico emergers and female duns, they have a lighter abdomen than the males which are all black are effective. The male duns hatch in the evening and it’s very tough to fish a black #20-26 dry fly in the dark. The spinner fall will happen soon after the females have hatched and this is the stage that most people fish when they talk about a trico hatch. The spinner fall will occur first in the parts of the stream that are less shaded.
Preferred rods are soft to moderate rods in the 3-5wt range and a good disg drag reel that protects the light tippet that is often required to “get in the game”. Don’t set your drag too tight, the shock of a sudden run by a big Tully trout can break off the unprepared. Leader of 9-12 feet are adequate and should be tapered down to 4-7x as the situation dictates. Plenty of Tulpehocken Creek trout have been caught nymphing with 4x Mirage Fluorocarbon and the anglers who have tied into true trophies were thankful for the thicker tippet. For dry fly fishing 5-7x Super Strong is excellent, softer nylon tippets allow you to get a better drift then stiff fluoro tippets and better drifts mean more fish. Drift is the key on the Tully and as you get better you’ll notice that you can get those finicky fish to eat Humpies, Wulffs, and Stimulators from time to time with a proper drift. Orvis Braided Floating leaders are very effective for dry fly fishing on this stream.