The LCFA focuses on the section of the Lehigh river which runs from the outflow of the Francis Walter Dam to the Delaware River. This section has three main sections and each with its own characteristics.
FEW Dam to Jim Thorpe
Few rivers in the eastern US can match the beauty and ruggedness of this section of the river. It contains the highest gradient drop as it cuts down through the Allegheny plateau. The entire river in this section runs through the Lehigh Gorge State Park. Access is found at various points, but the D&L trail gives access to those that want more solitude and a wilderness experience not found elsewhere. Wading can be extremely difficult in most locations, with slow deep pools broken by runs of class II and class III whitewater. This environment creates a natural mechanism to highly aerate the water allowing for improved oxygen levels which are extremely valuable to the wild trout population. While it's mostly a put and take fishery just below the outflow of FEW, as you move downstream a number of Class A cold water tributaries help cool the water temps and also provide ideal spawning habitat for these wild trout. Wild and stocked trout are found throughout with some areas holding a substantial population of wild trout near the confluence of Class A tributaries and the highly oxygenated water. Only approved boats for class III whitewater can float this section of the river. See the Lehigh Gorge state park regulations for further information.
Jim Thorpe to Northampton
As the river leaves the deep confines of the gorge at Jim Thorpe the gradient relaxes and the river widens. This section becomes more like a typical western river, unlike other rivers in the east. Long deep pools dived by riffles creates the perfect trout habitat. Tributaries such as the Pohopoco bring a large shot of cold water from the near year round 55 degree release from Beltzville lake. Also of importance is the Class A Aquashicola creek flowing in just before the Lehigh Gap. This water is well suited for western style drift boats, and holds a good population of wild trout but is also supplemented from brown and rainbow trout stockings by the Lehigh Stocking Association.
Northampton to the confluence with the Delaware
The final run of the Lehigh passes through some highly urban areas, such as Northampton, Bethlehem, and Easton. This section of the river also crosses the limestone belt of the state in the Lehigh Valley. Tributaries such as the Little Lehigh, Monocacy creek, and Saucon Creek add quite a bit of limestone influence. This allows for wild trout to move in and out of the river system due to the excellent interconnection with these class A tributaries.
River Wading Chart: (Click the image to see a larger view)