Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 3 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Little Mahoning Creek in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

February 4, 2020

Little Mahoning Creek in Pennsylvania

Little Mahoning Creek is used to being underestimated.

This tributary isn’t famous, but it does provide decent trout fishing. The Creek boasts a Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only Section, and flows through scenic pastures.

If you find yourself in Southwest Pennsylvania, you’ll definitely want to take some time to enjoy Little Mahoning Creek.

About Little Mahoning Creek

Fly fishing Little Mahoning Creek in southwest Pennsylvania

Little Mahoning Creek (known locally as the “Little Mo”) is a tributary of Mahoning Creek that begins at Deckers Point and flows into Nashville. The headwaters, which are stocked, get as wide as thirty feet. The upper section of the Creek runs through beautiful pastures, with trees and bushes lining the banks.

Additionally, the Creek has large, deep pools that provide good hiding places for trout. The rock substrate is excellent, and there are fast-flowing runs and riffles. At Little Mahoning Creek, you will likely see brown, brook, and rainbow trout. While the Creek has had its share of problems with water quality and poaching, it is still a fine fishery worth checking out.

Little Mahoning Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on Little Mahoning Creek in southwest Pennsylania

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

Best Places to Fish Little Mahoning Creek

The stream is accessible from State Route #1038, which grants access to the headwaters section. There are bridges and side roads along this route which also provide entry. 

The best place to fish Little Mahoning Creek is in the Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only section that is located just below Nashville. This section is four miles long, and runs from Cesna Run downstream to State Route #1034 at Rochester Mills. 

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Little Mahoning Creek. The USGS stream gauge near McCormick, Pennsylvania provides a good indication of current conditions.

The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions ma not be ideal.

Little Mahoning Creek at McCormick, PA

  • Temperature: 37.04 ° F
  • Streamflow: 142 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.83 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Little Mahoning Creek

The season for Little Mahoning Creek is the standard Pennsylvania trout fishing season. The best time to visit is in the spring, due to the insect hatches.

Some of the best hatches on the Little Mo include Hendricksons, grannon caddis, March Browns, sulphurs, and green drakes.

Best Flies for Little Mahoning Creek

Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Little Mahoning Creek:

  • Little Black Stonefly (#14 – 16)
  • Blue Quill (#18)
  • Quill Gordon (#12-14)
  • Hendrickson (#12-14)
  • Tan Caddis (#16-18)
  • Light Cahill (#14)
  • March Brown (#10-12)
  • Midges (various) (#20-24)
  • Sulphur (#16)
  • Terrestrials (various) (#10-18)
  • Green Drake (#8-10)

Gear Recommendations

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

Little Mahoning Creek Fishing Report

There aren’t any area fly shops or guides (that I know of) that can provide a Little Mahoning Creek fly fishing report.

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.

A portion of Little Mahoning Creek is managed under Catch-and-Release – Fly Fishing Only (CRFFO) regulations. This section runs from Rochester Mills 4.1 miles upstream to Cesna Run.

Little Mahoning Creek fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Little Mahoning Creek is the Pittsburgh International Airport, which is about an hour and a half away from the stream. Another closeby option is Allegheny County Airport, which would only add five minutes to your drive. Keep in mind 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.

There are plenty of excellent camping options in Southwest Pennsylvania. Milton Loop Campground is only a ten minute drive away. The campground is well-known for its friendly staff and clean accommodations.

If you would rather sleep with a roof over your head, check out Barclay Bed & Breakfast. Transport yourself to an earlier time as you enjoy Barclay’s famous home cooked breakfasts in a beautiful Victorian dining room. The rooms are clean and spacious, offering fascinating historical decorations with modern day comforts. But avoid planning your visit around Groundhog’s Day; the B & B is packed during this time.

Little Mahoning Creek might not be the most talked about fishery, but it is still worth a visit if you are in the area. Enjoy!

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

Feature image by The Tribune-Democrat