The Codorus - A Gem of a Trout Stream
The West Branch of the Codorus Creek is a small, tailwater trout stream located in the southwestern part of York County, in south-central Pennsylvania. It is fed by a dam constructed in the 1970's to serve the cold water needs of a local paper mill. In it's early days as a trout fishery, it was managed as a stocked, put-and-take fishery with special tackle and harvest regulations. Although the stream provided a decent fishing opportunity, those close to it began to notice subtle changes taking place. The numbers of wild brown trout began to increase as an outstanding fishery began to emerge. It was clear that a 'happy accident' was taking place and creating a unique and robust trout stream. Did our chapter's float stocking efforts distribute the fish and give them a better chance to holdover and reproduce? No one will ever prove that, but we like to imagine that we may have helped a little!
Eventually, the wild trout population grew to the point where the stream was reclassified as a Class 'A' Wild Trout Stream by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and a High Quality Cold Water Fishery by the Pennsylvania DEP. The PF&BC also chose to place a substantial portion of the stream in their Trophy Trout Program. Nowadays, no stocking takes place, and the stream by far exceeds the requirements to maintain it's classifications. It contains a remarkable number of fish for it's size, but they don't come easily.They are healthy, robust and full of fight, and some manage to grow quite large. The angling experience is enhanced by several significant mayfly and caddis fly hatches through the season. Terrestrial fishing remains excellent throughout the hot summer months due to the cold tailwater flows. Abundant midges, scuds and some sculpins and crayfish round out the fish's diet and fill in the gaps between hatches.
The stream has developed a small cult-like following of anglers who respect its simple beauty, difficult challenges and awesome, vibrant trout. Many of them travel considerable distances, bypassing far more well-known streams, to wet a line here.
The stream is generally small and brushy, and offers a variety of challenges to the caster. Longer fly rods (8-1/2' feet or more) are generally not needed. The stream features a nice mix of pools and riffles, all of which hold fish. The trout are almost exclusively browns, but don't be surprised if you latch on to a nice chunky holdover rainbow from a stocked tributary in the upper watershed. The stream is generally wadable everywhere, with pockets of deep silt providing the greatest hazard. Hip waders are passable, but chest waders are handy for that occasional spot where it's a little deeper or where you need to drop to a knee to get a cast into a tight location. Remember that water temps remain frigid even the hottest weather, so layer your clothing and waders accordingly. Parking is available at several locations throughout the length of the stream. We remind you and urge you to respect the local landowners by not littering, blocking driveways, or damaging property.