Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 2 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Dunbar Creek in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

Dunbar Creek, Pennsylvania

Dunbar Creek has had its share of problems. Acid mine drainage from Glade Run negatively affected the stream. Thanks to the efforts of the local TU chapter and the Dunbar Sportsmen’s club the stream is on the rebound.

Dunbar Creek is stocked with brook and brown trout, and many anglers report having luck fishing the waters.

Check out our guide so you can learn how to tackle this stream safely and successfully.

About Dunbar Creek

Fly fishing Dunbar Creek in southwestern Pennsylvania

Dunbar Creek is a 12.6-mile-long stream in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It flows into the Youghiogheny River at Connellsville, fed by its tributary, Glade Run. At Dunbar, you’ll see stocked brook and brown trout. If you’re lucky, you’ll see rainbow trout as well. The stream has a popular fly-fishing-only section at the upper reaches. The most popular place on the stream to fly fish is Budinsky Hole.

In the past few years, the aquatic insect population and water quality have greatly improved due to increased regulations and the assistance of volunteers. Please follow the posted regulations to help maintain the stream’s scenic beauty.

Dunbar Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Dunbar Creek in southwest Pennsylvania

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

Best Places to Fish Dunbar Creek

One of the best spots on Dunbar Creek is the Catch-and-Release Flyfishing Only section near the Game Commission Building. Many anglers also report success fishing in the upper reaches that run through State Game Lands No. 51.

The upper portion of the stream is off the beaten track and rarely within sight of a road. Wild brook and brown trout can be found here. Its headwaters drain atop Chestnut Ridge, so accessing this portion of the stream will be a bit of a hike.

Best Time to Fish Dunbar Creek

The best time to tackle the stream is the spring when insect activity kicks into gear.

Dunbar reportedly has sporadic hatches of March Browns, Green Drakes, Sulphurs, and numerous species of caddis flies.

Typically, the water levels can be low in the summer months, which limits the areas where you can fish.

Best Flies for Dunbar Creek

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

  • March Brown (#10-12)
  • Green Drake (#8-10)
  • Sulphurs (#14-16)
  • Elk Hair Caddis (#12-14)
  • Hare’s Ear Nymph (#12-14)
  • Pheasant Tail Nymph (#14-16)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the 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

The nearest airport to Dunbar Creek is Pittsburgh International Airport. You can travel to any major or municipal airport in Southwest Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

Uniontown KOA is a great choice for camping accommodations near the Creek. It is close to many attractions, including Kennywood Park and Laurel Caverns. The campground’s breathtaking views and serene atmosphere will make you feel at peace. Still, if you would rather stay indoors, Comfort Inn has reasonable rates and clean rooms. 

Dunbar Creek is on its way to becoming an excellent fly fishing location, so stop by for your next angling adventure.

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

Feature image by Ben Moyer