Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Laurel Hill Creek in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

Laurel Hill Creek trout

At first glance, Laurel Hill Creek might not seem like an impressive fishery. Listed as #7 on American Rivers’ “Most Endangered Rivers” list in 2009, Laurel Hill Creek’s waters are accessed by undertaking a lengthy hike. But if you make the effort, we promise it is worth it.

Not many anglers, however, are willing to make the strenuous effort required to reach the better parts of the Creek, meaning that you will most likely have the best parts of the fishery all to yourself. With the right approach, however, you are sure to have success tackling this stream.

About Laurel Hill Creek

Fly fishing Laurel Hill Creek in Pennsylvania

Laurel Hill Creek is a 38-mile-long tributary of the Youghiogheny River in southwestern Pennsylvania. The stream drains the east slope of Laurel Hill in Laurel Highlands, flowing into the town of Confluence before joining Casselman River. Casselman then flows into the Youghiogheny River. The Creek boasts three bridges contributing to the picturesque scenery: Barronvale Bridge, King’s Bridge, and Lower Humbert Covered Bridge. 

At the Creek, you’ll see stocked rainbow trout and brown and brook trout, both stocked and wild. This is generally a slow-moving Creek. Below Humbert, the stream becomes wider and faster as the tributaries increase the flow speed.

The Creek is easily accessible from the road below Humbert, but access to the rest of the stream requires more of a hike. Make sure you are in good shape before you attempt this, and wear good hiking footwear.

Laurel Hill Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Laurel Hill Creek in Pennsylvania

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

Best Places to Fish Laurel Hill Creek

The best place to fish Laurel Hill Creek is near the gorge within State Game Lands No. 111. This area is only accessible by hiking. The creek also has a few special regulation sections.

One is located above the lake at Laurel Hill State Park. In this area, you are only permitted to use artificial lures and flies and must release any trout caught before June 15th. A mile-long special regulation section is located between the footbridge in Humbert on 111 Road to the confluence of Paddytown Hollow Run.

The final special regulation area is from the Boy Scout Camp at Laurel Hill State Park to T-364. This section is about two miles long, and the stream is accessible to wade fishermen.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Check the stream conditions before fishing. The USGS stream gauge near Ursina, PA, provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past seven days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart), fishing conditions may not be ideal.

Laurel Hill Creek at Ursina, PA

  • Streamflow: 186 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 1.49 ft
Streamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Laurel Hill Creek

The best time to fish Laurel Hill Creek is in the spring due to the stream’s excellent aquatic insect hatches. Caddis are the most prolific insects, but you’ll also see March Browns, light Cahill, Slate Drake, and Sulphur hatches.

Generally, the water temperature becomes too warm in the summer to be hospitable to trout.

Best Flies for Laurel Hill Creek

Here is a list of generally recommended fly patterns for Laurel Hill Creek.

  • Klinkhammer (#14-18)
  • Adams (#10-18)
  • Elk Wing Caddis (#14-18)
  • Single Egg (#14-16)
  • Ant (#14-18)
  • Shaky Worm (#14)
  • Hare’s Ear (#12-14)
  • Pheasant Tail (#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 this stream. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Laurel Hill Creek Fishing Report

Area fly shops, guides, and websites that can provide a Laurel Hill Creek fly fishing report are listed below:

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 this stream. Another nearby option is Allegheny County Airport. However, you can travel to any major or municipal airport in Western Pennsylvania and arrive at your destination after a few hours of scenic driving.

Laurel Hill Creek State Park Campground is a great option if you don’t want to stray far from the fishery. It is close to the stream and has clean facilities.

If camping isn’t your thing, you might want to check out The Casselman Inn, a quaint Bed and Breakfast that has been in operation since 1842. It is located in Maryland but is only a half-hour drive from the Creek.

Like most good things, Laurel Hill Creek makes you work for it. But if you put in the effort, you will be rewarded with plenty of well-earned trout.

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

Feature image by Wooly Bugged