The Yellow Breeches: Fly Fishing Guiding and Instruction On the Yellow Breeches

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© 2007 E. P. Macri Jr.

The Yellow Breeches Fly Zone is by far the hardest fish stretch of a stream in the United States.  What about Jack Hunter on the Yellow Breechesthe open waters on the Yellow Breeches?  Much of the open water is on private land.  The water that is opened to the public is hammered the first 6 to 8 weeks of the season.  Once summer hits much of the Yellow Breeches becomes marginal due to the rise in temperature.  Some areas that are spring fed will hold trout the entire year.  The fly zone on the Breeches is fed by Boiling Spring Lake. This cold water flows a short distance into a spring creek and into the Breeches.  This keeps the next couple of miles of water cool during the summer.

In fact, if you fished the Breeches in the summer you know the fish move against the bank where the cold water from Boiling Springs Lake enters.  The Breeches attracts hordes of anglers from all over the country.  The anglers are there every day of the week and at every time of the day the stream is hammered.  Because of this hammering the fish do not always act normal to say the least.  This is a good place to study what happens to fish when they are constantly under pressure from anglers, poachers and just about everyone else. (photo; The legendary Jack Hunter, the ring leader of the Letort Regulars. tries his trade on the Yellow Breeches; ©2007 E. Macri).


The Trout Fishery on Yellow Breeches

The Yellow Breeches is stocked with many trout each year.  In the open water many fish are fished out and many are poached out before the season.  The fly zone is no exception.  The stream is heavily stocked by the state and angler's clubs.  There are hold over populations in the stream and there may also be a few wild browns.  The fish survive in the winter and they are fished for all winter believe it or not.  The size ranges from your normal 9 to 12 inch fish to a few fish in the mid 20 inch class.  There are a number of wise old browns in the Breeches which are seldom caught because the stream is pounded so hard and these fish seldom feed in the day time.  In the fly zone you must be off the stream an hour after sunset.

Some anglers complain that these are "rubber trout" or another name for hatchery fish but these fish get smart rather quickly and those that survive will test your skill.


The Yellow Breeches Ecology

Environmentally the Breeches has taken a beaten in the last 30 years like most of the streams in the state of Pennsylvania.  Sedimentation has been the biggest problem from a variety of sources.  There is development all along the Breeches and over all the aquifers are also being tapped in many areas.  The stream does flood and thus is does move sediments downstream over time unlike the Letort and Big Spring which are true spring creeks.  The Breeches is a limestone stream with spring influence.  The Yellow Breeches starts off as a giant spring creek except the waters are diverted by Huntsdale Hatchery and then pour into the stream.  Huntsdale has had major problems with the hatchery and pollution of the stream.  A few years ago a section below Huntsdale Hatchery was literally dead water due to the effects of the organic pollutants. the stream widens and warms up on its journey to Boiling Springs where the waters from the lake once again renew the stream for the next couple of miles below it.


Directions to the Yellow Breeches

There are two highway maps.  Map 1 shows the source of the Breeches where it comes out of the hatchery at Huntsdale and Map 2 shows the town of Boiling Springs.

Map 1

Map 2

Yellow Breeches Evaluation

Score 2.7


Overall Ecological Condition: 2.7 out of 5

Fishery: 3.5 out of 5

Hatches: 2.6 out of 5

Fly Fishing Pressure: 1.5 out of 5 (higher number is better because it means less anglers)

Fly Anglers' Success Ratio 3.1 out of 5 (note this refers to a skilled fly angler)

Overall score 2.7 out of 5


Yellow Breeches Notes

The fly section of the Yellow Breeches below Boiling Springs is the hardest fished stream in the country without a doubt.  So why do people fish it?  Well it has a lot fish in the stream and there are a few hatches.  You can usually see the fish and you always have the possibility of catching a large fish.  The stream is famous and it's something you must do and has the feel of Yuppieville on a trout stream.  It does furnish good fishing if you know what you are doing and don't mind putting up with lots of other fly anglers and an occasional pikie minnow or spinner being cast over your head because the fly zone has been changed to artificials only by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.  I could write a whole book on how to fish this stream but let me give you two secrets for success:

  1. Try something very large and try something very small. In other words large streamers and really small midges etc.
  2. Try the unusual and remember you must hit the fish almost in the mouth on some days for them to take your pattern. 




Late August to Late September

Limestoner Stream Reports: Pod Casts

Big Spring Creek

Falling Spring Run


Yellow Breeches Creek   


Letort Spring Run

Green Spring