Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Clear Shade Creek in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

brown trout caught in Clear Shade Creek in Pennsylvania

Clear Shade Creek is part of a dual tributary that forms Shade Creek. Its partner, Dark Shade Creek, is notorious for its pollution. However, Clear Shade is one of the finest trout fisheries in Southwest Pennsylvania.

This unlikely partnership makes for one of the most interesting fishing spots in the state.

Despite its infamous brother, Clear Shade provides excellent fly fishing for its visitors. Check out our guide so that you can tackle this stream successfully.

About Clear Shade Creek

Fly fishing Clear Shade Creek for wild brown trout in Pennsylvania

Clear Shade Creek begins in Gallitzin State Forest and runs south before it joins Dark Shade Creek. The two Creeks form Shade Creek. Shade Creek has suffered from pollution as several sites have bled iron and acid into Dark Shade.

Although the mines were abandoned in 1957, the damage the acidic mine drainage caused to the local geology and ecology has had a lasting impact. The drainage has made Dark Shade so acidic that its water cannot sustain life. However, because Clear Shade’s waters are found in the state forest area, Clear Shade has stayed pristine and offers great fly fishing. 

Clear Shade flows through Ogletown, Pennsylvania, before passing under Route 56 and re-entering the State Forest in an area known as Clear Shade Wild Area.

The stream is stocked by the Fish and Boat Commission and by the Windber Sportsmen’s Club. You will see brown and brook trout. The stocked trout measure up to 14 inches, whereas the wild trout measure a bit smaller. It also has its own Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only section.

This is a beautiful fishery situated in a tranquil environment. You are guaranteed plenty of trout and plenty of relaxation.

Clear Shade Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Clear Shade Creek in southwest Pennsylvania

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Best Places to Fish Clear Shade Creek

Access to Clear Shade is great. From Clear Shade Road, you can take Fisherman’s Path, a ¼ mile-long trail that provides entry to the Creek. There are many popular hiking trails in this area.

Some of the best fishing is in the Fly-Fishing-Only section, about a mile upstream from Windber Reservoir. The stream can be accessed from the State Forest. Some areas have rocky shorelines, but access is easier in the upper reaches. The stream is accessible to wade fishermen, but you’ll want to watch your footing.

clear shade creek map

Clear Shade Creek Trail Map

Best Time to Fish Clear Shade Creek

You will have the most luck fishing when aquatic insect activity peaks in the spring. The fall is a beautiful time to fish and when you might have better luck hooking the larger holdover brown trout.

The creek can be low and clear during the summer, making fishing more challenging.

Best Flies for Clear Shade Creek

Here is a list of general fly pattern recommendations for Clear Shade Creek:

  • Little Blue Winged Olives (#16-20)
  • Blue Quill (#16-18)
  • Quill Gordon (#12-14)
  • Hendrickson (#12)
  • Sulphurs (#14-16)
  • March Brown (#10-12)
  • Gray Fox (#10-12)
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • Slate Drake (#12-14)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Clear Shade Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Fishing Regulations

Pennsylvania requires all anglers 16 and older to have a standard fishing license and a special permit for trout fishing, which can be obtained online or in most sporting goods stores in the state.

Fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

Pittsburgh International Airport is the nearest airport to Clear Shade Creek. Another option is Allegheny County Airport, which is about a two-hour drive from Clear Shade. Remember that you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Western Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

If you are looking for camping in the area, Woodland Park Campground is a forty-minute drive away from the Creek. The campground has a friendly staff and a beautiful atmosphere. But there are plenty of places to stay indoors in Cambria County that are perfect for the budget-minded fisherman. Lake Inn has clean rooms, free Wi-Fi, and a restaurant.

If you are looking for a more unique experience, consider staying at nearby Blueberry Meadows. This former 18th-century hunting camp offers a fabulous mountain chalet that accommodates four.

Dark Shade Creek might be a work in progress, but Clear Shade Creek is guaranteed to provide excellent fly fishing.

Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Pennsylvania