Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 43 min read
50 Best Places for Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania: Map & Guide
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The state of Pennsylvania is just brimming with fabulous opportunities for outdoor adventure and recreation year-round, and fly fishing is no exception. Pennsylvania fly fishing for trout and steelhead is some of the best in the country.
You’re never far from a great lake, stream, or river, it seems, and all of them are easily accessible from towns and cities across the state.
The most common of the fish you’ll be catching are trout, which is available all across the state. If you’re looking for blue ribbon waters, Pennsylvania has a number of them.
- 86,000 Miles of Trout Streams
- Pennsylvania Trout and Steelhead Fishing Map
- So Where is the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania?
- 58 Best Places to Fly Fish in Pennsylvania
- 12 Best Trout Streams in North-Central Pennsylvania
- Special Regulation Trout Streams in North-Central PA
- 9 Best Trout Streams in South-Central Pennsylvania
- Special Regulations Trout Streams in South-Central Pennsylvania
- 13 Best Trout Streams in Northeast Pennsylvania
- Special Regulation Trout Streams in Northeast Pennsylvania
- 10 Best Trout Streams in Southeast Pennsylvania
- Special Regulation Trout Streams in Southeast Pennsylvania
- 7 Best Trout Streams in Northwest Pennsylvania
- Special Regulation Trout Streams in Northwest Pennsylvania
- 7 Best Trout Streams in Southwest Pennsylvania
- Special Regulation Trout Streams in Southwest Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania’s Steelhead Alley
- Best Flies for Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania
- Essential Fly Fishing Gear
- PA Fly Shops, Guides & Outfitters
- PA Fly Fishing Books & Maps
86,000 Miles of Trout Streams
Pennsylvania is blessed with over 86,000 miles of flowing water with wild trout inhabiting about 35,000 miles of rivers, streams and creeks.
Pennsylvania Trout and Steelhead Fishing Map
Pennsylvania is a relatively large state, and takes about 5 hours to traverse from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. You would need a lifetime to fish all the rivers, streams and creeks in between. If you really want to find out where the best PA fly fishing spots are you’ll need a good map.
Lucky for you we created one. Below is map all the best trout and steelhead fishing spots in PA.
The map below includes Pennsylvania Special Regulation Trout Streams, Pennsylvania Class A Wild Trout Streams and Pennsylvania steelhead fishing spots in the famed Steelhead Alley.
Click on map icons for information about each fishing location and to get directions.
Some of the best trout fishing spots in PA are discussed below by region.
So Where is the Best Fly Fishing in Pennsylvania?
With so many quality trout streams in Pennsylvania one could spark a serious debate about where the best trout fishing in Pennsylvania is. Let’s take a look at some the leading candidates.
58 Best Places to Fly Fish in Pennsylvania
The state of Pennsylvania is known for offering exceptional fly fishing, especially when you’re after steelhead and trout. The state is filled with great opportunities to experience outdoor recreation and adventure the entire year. No matter where you are, you’ll be close to rivers, streams, or lakes – even in the most urban areas.
There are six major regions in Pennsylvania, and each of them offers fantastic fishing. We’ll share information about the best fly fishing spots in the North-Central, South-Central, Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, and Northwest locations so you can head out and catch colossal fish whenever you want!
12 Best Trout Streams in North-Central Pennsylvania
Some of the top fly fishing waters in all of Pennsylvania are in the North-Central area. A few of the most well-known waters include Spring Creek, Fishing Creek, Slate Run, and Penns Creeks, just to name a few.
This region also offers dozens of special regulation trout streams that are ripe for the picking.
Several of the fisheries are relatively rural, while others are close to major cities for easy access. Many rivers are quite long and offer various places to fish depending on whether you want solitude or a crowd to socialize with.
Read on to learn more about the best options in this part of Pennsylvania.
1. Sinnemahoning Creek
Sinnemahoning Creek in North-Central PA
Sinnemahoning Creek is located from Cameron to Clinton County and offers one of the most rural fishing locations in the north-central area. This is a place of solitude with nothing more than state parks and forests to explore.
The main attraction is the many fly fishing streams, often teeming with wild brown trout. The creek has many branches with some of the best at First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek and Driftwood Branch Sinnemahoning Creek.
The most significant hatches happen in the spring and summer. The upper areas are excellent up into the middle of June before the fish move downstream.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Sinnemahoning Creek in Pennsylvania
2. Kettle Creek
Kettle Creek in Potter County, PA
Kettle Creek is a quick freestone stream that deepens and widens over its 67 miles of water. It’s mainly Class-A rated for wild trout and the fly hatches make fishing a breeze. Depending on location, you may even catch a few large rainbows while fishing the creek.
The upper part of the river is best to fish in the morning and evening, while the lower river has fewer fish, but they’re often easier to catch.
The Kettle Creek Watershed Association and Trout Unlimited have planted trees to offer shade even in the heat of the day. There are a dozen Class-A tributaries off of the creek, like Long Run and Indian Run, that are worth exploring.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Kettle Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Young Womans Creek
Young Womans Creek in Clinton County, PA
Young Womans Creek is ripe with fish all year round, but fly fishing in winter can be tricky since sections of the water might turn to ice. The best time to visit the creek is in the early spring when hatches are happening all over.
Fall is also a good time since the brown trout are most aggressive before the spawning season. This creek is about 11 miles long and a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River.
The best way to access the stream is from Route 120 from North Bend. The location offers easy wading with pocket water, small pools, and lots of riffles.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Young Womans Creek in Pennsylvania
4. Pine Creek
Pine Creek in North-Central PA
It might be called Pine Creek, but with a length of 90 miles, this location is just as impressive as many rivers. It comes with various insects, which creates an astounding brown and brook trout population along the stream bed.
You can reach the creek by foot or car and tons of road markers are available to keep you on track. It can also be reached by the Pine Creek Rail Trail for extra convenience.
This creek is ideal for fishing in any season, but the winter can be rougher than other times. The water will freeze in some areas and you can expect it to get pretty cold.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Pine Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Slate Run
Slate Run in North-Central PA
Not everyone knows about Slate Run, but those who do come back time after time. The river has a massive tree canopy with spring seeps and deep undercuts that make it ideal for fly fishing for brook and brown trout in a beautiful location.
Slate Run is about seven miles long with the most significant brown trout in the lower section. Keep in mind the terrain can be rugged which makes fishing more challenging than in some locations.
If you don’t mind a crowd, late spring is the best time to visit this location. But those who want more solitude can visit just before and after the busy season.
A 9-foot 4-wt rod with a floating line is recommended when fishing with small nymphs and dry flies.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Slate Run in Pennsylvania
6. Cedar Run
Cedar Run in North-Central PA
Cedar Run offers a gorgeous freestone fishery where you can bask underneath a canopy for tree limbs for exceptional shade. This is the kind of place where you can pick a spot and feel like you are the only person on earth for a few hours.
It offers Trophy Trout fishing starting at Buck Run that is about seven miles long with pools connected through runs and riffles. It stays so cool that many Pine Creek fish come here to get away from the heat. The typical caught fish will be under 12 inches, but you can also pull up fish that hit 20 inches.
This water often freezes in the winter, so fishing is best from spring into the end of summer. However, getting to this gorgeous location can take some work. You’ll need to do some strenuous hiking to experience it for yourself.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Cedar Run in Pennsylvania
7. Lycoming Creek
Lycoming Creek in North-Central PA
North-Central Pennsylvania is known for freestone trout streams, but Lycoming Creek offers something unique. It’s highly stocked and surrounded by gorgeous scenery that many want to experience time after time.
This creek is over 37 miles long and is filled with brown and brook trout, although you can also see a few rainbows at times. The smaller streams feed the creek and include Grays Run, Pleasant Stream, Trout Run, and more.
There aren’t dedicated state access points, but several crossing bridges are available. Expect the best catches to occur during regular trout season, but you can fish from spring through fall.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Lycoming Creek in Pennsylvania
8. Clarion River
Clarion River in North-Central PA
Clarion River is now part of the National Wild and Scenic River Program and is best known for its beautiful backdrop and Green Drake hatches.
It’s a tributary of the Allegheny River and flows west with excellent fishing in both directions. Keep in mind that at Tambine, the area is Catch and Release fly fishing only with wading off-limits.
Visit the main stem and its eight miles of water for the all Tackle Trophy Water where you’ll find vast numbers of riffles and ponds.
This river is accessible from nearby state parks or the road and is highly fishable without a boat. It’s an excellent location for year-round fishing but stick to the East Branch in summer and fall for the best results.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Clarion River
9. Allegheny River
Allegheny River in North-Central PA
The Allegheny River has a lot going for it. It’s beautiful, it offers trout that reaches sizes of 30 inches, and it can be challenging for even experienced fly anglers.
This river is about 325 miles long and has two particular areas of interest to anglers. The upper Allegheny has a Delayed Harvest – Artificial Lures Only section that runs nearly three miles.
The tailwater area has special regulations and is nine miles long. It isn’t stocked with browns, but many tributaries are. You’ll also find stocked rainbows.
Make sure you watch the water levels since wading may not always be possible. Fishing is possible all year round, but the best season is likely to be fall, when browns are aggressive as spawning seasons looms ahead.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania
10. Spring Creek
Fisherman’s Paradise on Spring Creek near State College, PA
Spring Creek is a limestone stream that might be the best in the state for wild trout fishing. The most lauded fish you’ll find are the brown trout, which can reach up to 20 inches.
The best spots for fishing are below Benner Springs Hatchery where the water is quick and the habitat is ideal for local wild trout. The area is called Spring Creek Canyon and is also the most wooden and remove part of the creek.
The best time for hatches is from the middle of April through the middle of July, but it’s fishable in any season. However, this is a prominent location so expect plenty of competition for fishing and parking during the summer months.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Spring Creek in Pennsylvania
11. Penns Creek
Penns Creek in North-Central PA, photo by Jon Dawson
Penns Creek makes its headwaters at the only water cavern in the state and moves downstream 35 miles away from Penn’s Cave. This fishery is regularly stocked with rainbows but is surprisingly better known for its abundance of wild browns.
Fishing conditions are excellent along the entire creek, but the coldest waters are right by the cave mouth. This is one of the top fly fishing streams in the state and makes an excellent location for any angler who wants to test their presentation skills and flies.
The main spawning area is in the headwaters, but the trout get larger as you move downstream. Like most northern streams, this one is best in June and July when hatches are at their peak.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Penns Creek in Pennsylvania
12. “Big” Fishing Creek
Wild brown trout from Big Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania, photo by Michael Evanko
The name of this creek gives you a good idea of what to expect – outstanding fly fishing. While several excellent fisheries are near State College, Fishing Creek is known for huge numbers of wild brown trout available all year round.
If you enjoy wildlife, consider time in the “Narrows,” where you may see black bears, whitetail deer, coyotes, turkeys, and a rattlesnake or two. No matter when you head to the creek, you can expect fantastic fishing.
However, May and June are best for fly fishing due to the enormous mayfly hatches around that time. You’ll likely find the best fishing in the early morning or at night when big fish come out to eat.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania
Special Regulation Trout Streams in North-Central PA
North-Central Pennsylvania contains some of the most fabled fly fishing waters in the Commonwealth including Fishing Creek, Penns Creek, Slate Run and Spring Creek. But that’s not all. There are also 36 other special regulation trout streams that provide excellent fly fishing opportunities in north-central Pennsylvania. Why not check one out?
North-Central Special Regulation Trout Streams
|Allegheny River (DHALO)||Loyalsock (DHALO)|
|Big Mill Creek (DHALO)||Lycoming Creek (DHALO)|
|Black Moshannon Creek (DHALO)||Marvin Creek (CRFFO)|
|Cedar Run (TT)||Meade Run (ARWOYR)|
|Cherry Run (CR)||Middle Creek (DHALO)|
|Clarion River (CRAT)||Muncy Creek (DHALO)|
|Clarion River, East Branch (DHALO)||Penns Creek (ATTT, CR)|
|Cross Fork (CR)||Pine Creek (DHALO)|
|Driftwood Branch Sinnemahoning Creek (CRFFO)||Rauchtown Creek (CR)|
|First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek (DHALO)||Red Bank Creek (CRFFO)|
|“Big” Fishing Creek (CR)||Sandy Lick Creek (DHALO)|
|Francis Branch Tributary (CRFFO)||Slate Run (CRFFO)|
|Gray’s Run (CR)||Spring Creek (CRFFO)|
|Hunts Run (CR)||Straight Creek (ATWOYR)|
|Kettle Creek (CRFFO)||Tunungwant Creek, East Branch (TT)|
|Kinzua Creek (DHALO)||West Branch Clarion River (CRFFO)|
|Laurel Run (ATWOYR)||West Branch Tunungwant Creek (DHALO)|
|Lick Run (TT)||West Creek (ATWOYR)|
|Little Clearfield Creek (DHALO)||White Deer Creek (CRFFO)|
|Little Pine Creek (DHALO)||Young Womans Creek (CR)|
9 Best Trout Streams in South-Central Pennsylvania
When it comes to outstanding fly fishing in Pennsylvania, the South Central region is a dream. The area is filled with fisheries, including famous rivers like the Yellow Breeches, the Letort, and the Little Juniata River.
Falling Spring Branch Creek is perfect for those who want a challenge, while Spruce Creek is near Penn State University for easy fishing any afternoon or morning.
There are also more than 20 special regulation trout streams in this part of Pennsylvania so that you can enjoy fly fishing from spring through winter.
If you’re in the area and craving fly fishing, check out the streams below to decide which is your favorite.
1. Falling Springs Branch Creek
Pool on Falling Springs Branch Creek
When you want a challenge with your fly fishing, Falling Spring Branch Creek is the perfect solution. The fish are hard to lure out, especially in the upper areas of the fishery. These fish have a massive supply of food, so it’s harder to convince them to take a bite.
This creek is about 25 feet wide and comes from a large spring before meeting the Conococheague Creek. You can expect to see both stocked and wild rainbow and brown trout when you visit this stream.
Because the stream is cool, you can fish any time you like, even in the cold of winter. But if you want the best catches, head down in autumn to enjoy fishing under stunning fall foliage.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Falling Spring Branch Creek in Pennsylvania
2. Big Spring Creek
Rainbow trout caught on Big Spring Creek in Pennsylvania
Another spot that packs a challenge is Big Spring Creek, the fifth largest in the entire state. It’s a limestone spring creek with transparent waters fed by several smaller streams to keep the water cool in all seasons.
The upper reaches house many large brook trout and you can also coax out brown and rainbows if you’re patient enough. One of the perks of this creek is that you can access it right from U.S. Route 11.
If you head to the stream near Newville, it’s a fly fishing only zone, while the upper area has massive brook trout. The water is shallow, but the fish can see you, so be careful about how you move.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Spring Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Letort Spring Run
Letort Spring Run brown trout
You may have noticed a theme in South-Central Pennsylvania. Lots of these waters are challenging and can give you an adrenaline rush when you hook up with a trout.
The same applies to the Letort Spring Run. It’s filled with wild browns, but even the most experienced anglers will have trouble bringing up fish. The water is clear enough that the fish can see you if you aren’t stealthy about your movements.
The easiest way to reach the run is from Letort Spring Park and the most leisurely fly fishing is in the lower reaches. But if you want the most exciting experience, you should visit Marinaro’s Meadow.
Since the water is cool, fishing is good year-round but stick to cloudy days to have the best chances. We recommend fishing in the late evening or early morning.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Letort Spring Run in Pennsylvania
4. Codorus Creek
Brown Trout from Codorus creek in York County, PA, photo by Michael Evanko
Years ago, Codorus Creek was often called “Inky Stinky,” but times have changed. Cleanups and settlements have removed any odor from the water and the insects are teeming around the banks. Because of that, this creek is now chockful of rainbow and brown trout waiting to be caught.
The East Branch is stocked, but the West Branch features the largest browns you can find. It has tons of weed growth and runs about 20 feet wide to feel like a spring creek. Be careful when walking near the creek. It’s wadable but can get fairly cold even in warm months.
Standard trout season is the best time to visit, especially in spring when the hatches are happening.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Codorus Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Yellow Creek
Rainbow trout from Yellow Creek in Bedford County, PA, photo by Michael Evanko
There are many spring creeks in Pennsylvania, but not all of them are as much fun to visit as Yellow Creek. It’s filled with both stocked and wild brown trout to keep any fly fisher busy. This creek is filled with deep pools and large boulders, and some areas have pocket water and fast riffles where fish love to hide.
Whether you’re new to fly fishing or experienced at angling, you can expect a fantastic experience at the creek. The most accessible catches are found in the Catch and Release Flyfishing Only zone near State Road 1024, but the real challenge is Loysburg Gap, which is filled with wild trout and deep pools.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Yellow Creek in Pennsylvania
6. Yellow Breeches
Covered bridge over the Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania
Yellow Breeches is 30 miles of open water globally famous for both its wild and stocked trout. The adventurous angler will also find many mountain streams and spring creeks nearby for a unique experienced.
It’s stocked with large numbers of rainbow, brown, and brook trout and has many wild trout that are harder to catch. Any environment you like is available from towns to farms, residential areas, and woodlots.
Several access points are available, mainly near local parks and bridges. The most popular site is near Boiling Springs at the catch and release area, but many trout are also upstream of Route 15.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Yellow Breeches in Pennsylvania
7. Clark Creek
Clark Creek in Pennsylvania
Best known for being a stocked fishery filled with trout, Clark Creek also offers wild brown and brook trout for anglers. It’s a popular location, but it also manages to be tranquil to appeal to a broad range of people.
The creek is just over 31 miles long starting at Clark Valley and joining the Susquehanna River near Dauphin County. About 2.5 miles are catch and release near State Game Lands 211.
You’ll mainly find brown and brook trout up to 20 inches in size. The best access point for the creek is through Route 322 to Route 225 to Route 325.
It’s open for wading but gets cold, so make sure to wear thick socks. You can fish any time of year, but the best catches are typically early in the season during the morning or late afternoon.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Clark Creek in Pennsylvania
8. Little Juniata River
The next generation sizing up the Little “J”, photo by Happy on the Fly
The Little Juanita River is a tributary of the Juniata River that runs 35 miles from Altoona, where several streams merge. It makes its way down limestone cliffs and takes advantage of the many limestone springs that add nutrients and cool water to the river.
It offers moderately quick water, many riffles, and a variety of pools. It’s easily accessible from PA-453 and several other paved roads near Tyrone. The first mile is private property but can be used as long as you remain inside the stream.
The river is fishable at all times, but it brings in the wildest browns in the spring. Fall also offers a variety of large browns who are aggressive in anticipation of spawning season.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania
9. Spruce Creek
Spruce Creek in south-central Pennsylvania, photo by The Nittany Lion Inn
Legendary fly fishing in Central Pennsylvania doesn’t get better than Spruce Creek. It’s a limestone creek near Penn State and has a half-mile public access area used to study brown trout.
Anglers can catch and release and the water flows through all seasons. The trout population is kept high through the many fish and game clubs that regularly stock the waters.
You’ll find brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout for the catching. Other areas of the creek can be fished for a small fee. This area has lots of insects with strong hatches from April through September. The best fishing times are in the early morning dark or late into the evening.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Spruce Creek in Pennsylvania
Special Regulations Trout Streams in South-Central Pennsylvania
One could arguably say the best fly fishing in Pennsylvania is in the South Central region where you’ll find iconic limestone streams such as the Letort, the Little Juniata River and the Yellow Breeches.
There are also 22 special regulation trout streams that provide year-round fly fishing opportunities in south-central Pennsylvania. Why not check one out?
South-Central Special Regulation Trout Streams
|Big Spring Creek (CRFFO)||Manada Creek (DHALO)|
|Clark Creek (CRFFO)||Mountain Creek (ATWOYR)|
|Codorus Creek (TTALO)||Muddy Creek (CRFFO)|
|Conowago Creek (CRFFO)||Quittapahilla Creek (DHALO)|
|Cove Creek (DHALO)||Shaeffer Run (WBTEP)|
|East Branch Antietam Creek (CRFFO)||Spruce Creek (CR)|
|East Licking Creek (DHALO)||Stony Creek (ATWOYR)|
|Falling Springs Branch (CRFFO)||Wiconisco Creek (DHALO)|
|Green Spring Creek (CRFFO)||Yellow Breeches Creek (CRFFO)|
|Honey Creek (DHALO)||Yellow Creek (CRFFO)|
|Letort Spring Run (CRFFO)|
|Little Juniata River (CRALO)|
13 Best Trout Streams in Northeast Pennsylvania
When you think about Northeast Pennsylvania, the Poconos Mountains may be the first thing that comes to mind. While this location is best known as a spot for newlyweds, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer excellent fly fishing. The entire landscape is dotted with gorgeous blue streams, wild trout, and fisheries that rarely get crowded with anglers.
McMichaels Creek offers beauty year-round with slow-moving runs, deep pools, and waterfalls. Bowman Creek is lesser-known but has tons of wild and stocked rainbows, brown, and brook trout. Hickory Run is even located in one of Pennsylvania’s 25 Must-See State Parks.
Take your pick and get out there to enjoy the fantastic fishing across this area of the state.
1. Brodhead Creek
Brodhead Creek in Pennsylvania, photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli
Known as the place where American fly fishing originated, Brodhead Creek is coming back into popularity. In days past, anglers would fish out up to 40 brook trout at a time of up to four pounds, but the catch limit, growing population nearby, and flooding made it less fished. However, it’s now being stocked and plenty of trout are available.
This creek is almost 22 miles long and is stocked with rainbow and brown trout. It also has some wild browns to catch. It offers the typical Pennsylvania run, riffle, and pool configuration with added boulders for a better habitat.
Try out the seven-mile stretch between the Delaware River and Analomink for fantastic fishing in spring or fall.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Brodhead Creek in Pennsylvania
2. McMichaels Creek
Rainbow trout from McMichaels Creek in Monroe County Pennsylvania, photo by Michael Evanko
Are you looking for a fishery with slow-moving runs, great views, deep pools, and stunning waterfalls? McMichaels Creek offers all these things and more. It’s a nearly 22 miles tributary of Brodhead Creek that was added to the Keystone Select Program in 2018.
Most of the fish in the creek are rainbow, brown, and brook trout, but they can be wily due to all the local anglers out and about. Taking a short hike to a less populated section is often a good idea.
The best access to the creek is at Hickory Valley Park which offers signage to get you to your destination. Fishing is available all year since the water typically stays cool. Spring can be an excellent time to visit, thanks to all the insect hatches.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing McMichaels Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Pocono Creek
Pocono Creek electrofishing study conducted by the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Pocono Creek is a lesser traveled fishery due primarily to how close it is to the highway. It’s located in a beautiful place with challenging catches to add some excitement to your day.
The creek is a Class-A wild trout stream that tends to offer huge wild brown trout. While many areas of the creek are narrow, you can find deeper holes and runs where trout are hanging out.
There are several access points at Martz Road, Tanite Road, and Schafers Schoolhouse Road. Fishing tends to be at its best in the late evening and early morning in the early weeks of the season.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Pocono Creek in Pennsylvania
4. Big Bushkill Creek
Big Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania, photo by Cradle of Liberty Council
When you want to fish somewhere serene and beautiful, Big Bushkill Creek is the top option. It’s a 30 mile long tributary of the Delaware River and flows south to Beaver Run Pond and Pickerel Lake.
The section for fishing is about 12 miles long and half of it is only catch and release flyfishing. It’s located right near New Jersey and only 70 miles from New York, making it popular with anglers from multiple states.
It is home to rainbow, brown, and brook trout with plenty of runs, pools, and riffles. The best spot to fish might be at the Resica Falls Scout Reservation, but you will need to register with the Boy Scout Headquarters to enjoy the water.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Big Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Lackawanna River
Lackawanna River in northeast Pennsylvania
The Lackawanna River is a gorgeous spot that has recently been restored for anglers across the state. The 11 miles of the river are considered a PA Class-A Wild Trout Stream, including the reach from Olyphant to Carbondale City.
Some river areas are under management by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission with Trophy Trout Artificial Lures Only regulations. This includes Archbald’s Gilmartin Street Bridge to the Lackawanna Avenue Bridge in Olyphant other than the area near the Depot Street Bridge.
In the Trophy Trout section, fish need to be 14 inches or larger to keep. There is also a creel limit of two fish.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lackawanna River
6. Bowman Creek
Bowman Creek in northeast Pennsylvania, photo by Jake C
The locals know about and fish Bowman Creek but it isn’t as well known in other parts of the country. It’s a scenic location that has both wild and stocked rainbow, brook, and brown trout. However, it tends to be a bit off the beaten path, so it’s harder to access.
Once you do, you’ll have your own little slice of land to bring up gigantic trout. This is a freestone stream with a wide range of difficulty options depending on where you decide to cast a line.
Some creek areas are easily accessible, but the upper reaches require a bit of a hike. It follows standard Pennsylvania trout season and can be fished in summer, except on the hottest days. Autumn can also offer large brown trout.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Bowman Creek in Pennsylvania
7. Fishing Creek
Fishing Creek in northeast Pennsylvania, photo by Ruhrfisch
Fishing Creek is found in Columbia County and could be one of the best places in the state with a freestone base. It offers many wild brook and brown trout in the upper reaches and is also stocked by a local fishing club and the state. This creek has several tributaries and some of them are PA Class-A wild trout streams.
The best easily accessible fly fishing is found off Route 487 with access points maintained by various owners and associations. The cool water from the tributaries allows you to fish in any season, but spring is likely to be the most crowded due to the many insect hatches.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania
8. Lackawaxen River
Lackawaxen River in northeast Pennsylvania, photo by Daniel Case
Located just below Prompton Lake, you’ll find fantastic fly fishing at Lackawaxen River. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources even voted it the River of the Year in 2010. It’s one of the best-known freestone streams for trout fishing in the entire state.
That might make it seem like fishing there is simple, but it still manages to offer a challenge. This river includes pocket water, massive pools, riffles, runs, and deep water and large boulders. There’s lots of shade so you can stay protected even during a long day of angling.
This river is known for its insect population and the best time to fish is in spring. Fall is also an excellent time to enjoy aggressive brown trout.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lackawaxen River in Pennsylvania
9. Lehigh River
The mighty Lehigh River in northeast Pennsylvania
The Lehigh River is a fantastic place for fly fishing that runs 100 miles through Pennsylvania and acts as the primary tributary to the Delaware River.
You have access to 20 miles of easily wadable water through mashes and bogs near Goulsboro and another 35 miles of water from Francis E. Walter Dam from Walnutport to Whitehaven for trout fishing. The area near the dam has many rainbows and brows due to organizations stocking the waters.
There are several access points to reach the water, but some places are tough to hike through. Fishing tends to be best in March through May, but it’s dependent on the water level in the reservoir.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania
10. Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Falls in Pennsylvania
Hickory Run State Park is one of the 25 Must-See Parks based on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ranking. It has tons of insects and the option to see a gorgeous waterfall while you fish.
The run is a tributary of the Lehigh River that flows about five miles through the state park. It’s a Class-A stream with a huge number of brown and brook trout. The location also offers other activities like hunting, hiking, and ice skating.
It’s easy to access through clearly marked signs and several parking areas. The insect hatches make spring the best time to fish, but autumn can also bring in various sizeable brown trout.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania
11. Pohopoco Creek
Pohopoco Creek tailwater below Beltzville Lake in northeast Pennsylvania, photo by Anthony Bley
Pohopoco Creek goes by many names, such as Big Creek and Heads Creek, but no matter what you call it, it offers some excellent fly fishing.
It’s about 28 miles long with the stream coming from Monroe County down Pohopoco Mountain to go south and end up in Beltzville Lake. The bottom of the lake offers tailwater for excellent summer fishing. The upper area isn’t stocked but is a Class-A Wild Trout Stream. This is a great place to fish, but it can be challenging for some anglers.
Access the creek by going down Old Mill Road off of Route 209. Wade anglers are welcome, but it can be pretty cold in the tailwater area, even in the heart of summer.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Pohopoco Creek in Pennsylvania
12. Tobyhanna Creek
Tobyhanna Creek in Pennsylvania, photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli
Those who want solitude and relaxation can head to Tobyhanna Creek. It’s a stream in the Poconos that has a 50-foot span for great fishing. It even comes with a Delayed Harvest area ideal for a top fly fishing experience. Those who want more of a challenge can visit the slow-moving areas where trout are more likely to notice you coming.
This creek is filled with stocked and wild brown and brook trout but expect the wild trout to give you more of a chase. Access to the middle part of the creek is relatively straightforward when coming to the eastern section of I-380 at State Game Land #127, but the Delayed Harvest area requires more hiking.
The latter is open all year, but the rest of the creek is only available from April through February.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Tobyhanna Creek in Pennsylvania
13. Loyalsock Creek
Loyalsock Creek in northeast Pennsylvania, photo by Ruhrfish
Any angler taking in the wonders of northeast Pennsylvania should save a day to experience Loyalsock Creek. It’s known for its vast numbers of brown trout as well as copious amounts of insects. It also works well for anglers of all skill levels since the challenge can rise and fall based on where you decide to go.
This creek is 64 miles long and acts as a tributary to the Susquehanna River. The majority of the water has large pools without riffles and runs, but a few locations hold boulders that create excellent pocket water. Both stocked and wild brown and brook trout are common to catch.
You can reach the lower stream from Route 87 or take Route 154 up the creek. It’s best for fishing during standard state trout season.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Loyalsock Creek in Pennsylvania
Special Regulation Trout Streams in Northeast Pennsylvania
The Poconos have more than just heart-shaped hot tubs. Northeast Pennsylvania, home to the Pocono Mountains (long-time destination of honeymooners) is laced with sparkling clear streams, wild brook trout and not so many anglers. If you are looking for a little more solitude on your next trout fly fishing outing we’ve got the spot for you.
There are 23 regulated trout streams in Northeast Pennsylvania including Catch and Release sections on Hickory Run, Roaring Brook, Tom’s Creek, and Catch and Release Fly Fishing Only sections on Bushkill Creek, Dyberry Creek, and Bowman Creek.
Wild Trout Abound!
If beautiful wild brook trout get you going then check out Jeans Run and Kistler run where a Wild Brook Trout Enhancement Program is helping restore this native beauty.
Northeast Special Regulation Trout Streams and Featured Destinations
|Lehigh River||Tobyhanna Creek (DHALO)|
|Hickory Run (C&R)||Dingmans Creek (DHALO)|
|Roaring Brook (C&R)||Salt Lick Creek (DHALO)|
|Tom’s Creek (C&R)||West Branch Wallenpaupack Creek (DHALO)|
|Bush Kill (CRFFO)||Lackawanna River (TT)|
|Dyberry Creek (CRFFO)||Jeans Run (WBTEP)|
|Bowman Creek (CRFFO)||Kistler Run Watershed (WBTEP)|
|Towanda Creek (DHALO)||Wolf Swamp Run Watershed (WBTEP)|
|Mud Run (DHALO)||Mehoopany Creek (ATWOYRF)|
|South Branch Tunkhannock Creek (DHALO)||Sugar Run (ATWOYRF)|
|Harveys Creek (DHALO)||Loyalsock Creek (DHALO)|
|Nescopeck Creek (DHALO)||Pocono Creek|
|McMichaels Creek (DHALO)||Brodhead Creek|
|Fishing Creek||Lackawaxen River|
10 Best Trout Streams in Southeast Pennsylvania
Southeast Pennsylvania is an excellent place to enjoy a spot of fly fishing. It offers creeks that have more trout per mile than anywhere else in the state. There are fisheries with Class-A Wild Trout Waters, locations filled with other people, and rural areas where you can fish in solitude for hours.
Many of the fishing options are freestone, but you’ll also find spring-fed limestone locations and more. Some streams and rivers are far off the beaten path for experienced backpackers and others are right next to large cities like Philadelphia.
No matter what kind of fishing you prefer, southeastern Pennsylvania offers you plenty of excellent options.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 trout streams in southeast PA.
1. Little Lehigh Creek
Little Lehigh Creek in southeast PA is well known for the Trico hatch that kicks off each year in early July
When you want to fish somewhere that is a veritable oasis of trout, you can’t beat the Little Lehigh Creek. It’s known for offering the most trout per mile of any stream in the entire state.
This creek moves through a stunning park system near Allentown and is composed mainly of wily brown trout that are a challenge to catch. You’ll also see rainbows and brooks but make sure you match the insect hatch with the right lures.
This creek has a Catch and Release Fly Fishing only area that spans from Wild Cherry Lane to Millrace Road and another from the 24th Street Bridge to the Fish Hatchery Road Bridge.
The best time for fishing is in the summer, but the catch and release areas are available all year.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Little Lehigh Creek in Pennsylvania
2. Monocacy Creek
Monocacy Creek flowing through historical Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, photo by Tim Kiser
With many limestone creeks in Pennsylvania, you might wonder why you should choose Monocacy Creek. While the creek runs through developed areas, it’s filled with brown trout and includes Class-A Wild Trout Waters in a gorgeous setting. Both wild and stocked browns are available, as well as stocked rainbows and brooks.
This is an easily accessible fishery that you can find by the Fox Gertrude Conservation Area. It also offers some of the best wade fishing in this part of the state.
The best time to fish is during regular trout season, but the lower sections stay cool no matter the season.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Monocacy Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Saucon Creek
Saucon Creek in southeast Pennsylvania, photo by Shuvaev
Saucon Creek has a lot going for it. It’s one of the top locations in southeast Pennsylvania for wild brown trout. It stays cool through even the summer and is stocked by the state. It has a great flow rate and is easy to access right from the road.
This creek is a Lehigh River tributary located in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. It starts in Lower Milford Township and goes all the way down to the Lehigh River in Bethlehem. There is even a trophy trout section at Saucon Park with brown and brook trout.
Fishing can be had any time of year thanks to the cool waters, but the best hatches are during spring.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Saucon Creek in Pennsylvania
4. Bushkill Creek
Bushkill Creek in Northampton PA, photo by John Best
Composed of limestone, Bushkill Creek acts as a tributary to the Delaware River. It’s 13 miles long and stocked by the state with brown and brook trout in the upper reaches through Jacobsburg State Park.
The park also offers other fun activities like skiing, picnicking, horseback riding, and hunting. The stream is ideal for wading anglers, but the fish tend to be a little tricky to catch.
For fishing in the state park, access is available near Nazareth from PA 33 at the Belfast Exit. The stream has a catch and release area of just over a mile rated Class-A for wild brown trout. The fish are constantly well-fed and you can fish at any time of year.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Bushkill Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Tulpehocken Creek
Tulphenhocken Creek rainbow trout, photo by Michael Evanko
One of the things that Pennsylvania is lacking is an excellent location for tailwater trout fishing, but Tulpehocken Creek is an exception to the rule.
It’s a Pennsylvania Scenic River where you’ll find great insect hatches and various brown and rainbow trout. However, the fish aren’t the easiest to catch, so you’ll want to bring lifelike imitations to coax them out of hiding.
The creek runs nearly 40 miles with pocket water, areas of flats, and riffles. Those who head downstream will find additional riffles and slow-moving pools. It’s stocked with fingerling browns and rainbow trout, but you’ll need to watch out for stream levels to catch what you want.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Tulpehocken Creek in Pennsylvania
6. Manatawny Creek
Sulphur hatch on Manatawny Creek in southeast Pennsylvania, photo by Mark Giorgio
If you want to spend time off the beaten path, you can take your fly fishing to Manatawny Creek. It’s not as well known as some creeks but offers a challenge for anyone adventurous and looking for something new.
For a truly rural setting, head to the upper reaches, where you’ll see covered bridges while you fish for brown and brook trout. Access is decent for this creek and you can easily enjoy wade fishing.
State trout season is the best time to seek out this hidden gem, especially in spring when the insects are hatching. Summer can be less than ideal since the water levels tend to drop.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Manatawny Creek in Pennsylvania
7. French Creek
French creek near Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Sometimes an angler wants somewhere accessible to fish and French Creek certainly has that in spades. This creek is located right next to Philadelphia so that the urban crowd can enjoy fishing after work or on off days. It might not have the most trout in the state, but it isn’t at all shabby for anyone near Philly.
This is a freestone stream that is 14 miles long that starts at Lake Hopewell. It goes to the Schuylkill River and offers primarily slow and moderate flow pools. It does have a few boulders and rocks, but the shade is at a premium, so it can get hot in the summer.
Excellent water is located at the upper area off Route 23 and you’ll find a Catch-and-Release area downstream with perfect water.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing French Creek in Pennsylvania
8. Valley Creek
Valley Creek in Valley Forge National Park
Another great location for fly fishing near Philadelphia is Valley Creek. It’s just over 10 miles long and goes through the location known as the Great Valley. It measures around 12 to 20 feet in most places and offers runs, pools, and riffles full of fish. There are many hiding places with logs and undercut banks for protection.
The high pH level of the water supports a variety of insects to provide a year-round food source for the trout. The water temperature rarely gets too warm, so it makes a great excursion during the summer months.
Mainly brown trout are located in this creek, which is accessible from Route 252 and Interstate 76. The ideal time to visit is during the spring, but the largest fish are found in the fall.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Valley Creek in Pennsylvania
9. Wissahickon Creek
Wissahickon Creek in southeast Pennsylvania, photo by Alphageekpa
Wissahickon Creek has been featured in movies, poetry, paintings, and songs, but it also offers an excellent fly fishing experience. It runs about 23 miles through parks and valleys and is known as one of the 600 National Natural Landmarks of the United States.
Anglers are typically present, along with dog walkers and hikers on the banks. No matter where you fish, you’ll have a good time. The creek offers stocked brown and rainbow trout and provides rock bass, smallmouth bass, and redbreast sunfish.
The most popular access point is on the Forbidden Drive trail in Wissahickon Valley Park at deep pools, under dams, in currents, and in slow pools.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Wissahickon Creek in Pennsylvania
10. West Branch Octoraro Creek
West Branch Octoraro Creek in southeast Pennsylvania, photo by Editorofthewiki
West Branch Octoraro Creek is in the heart of tourist country in Lancaster County. Known for its large Amish population and historical views, there are many attractions in the area. What most people don’t realize is how unique this area is for fly fishing.
The West Branch has 15 miles of Catch and Release waters filled with trout. The upper area of the creek is primarily made up of pools, while the downstream has many human-made structures and a variety of meadows.
You can access the waters from the State Game Land #136 parking area near Puseyville Road. Standard trout season is a good time to visit, especially in the spring and fall. The best fishing is typically early in the morning or in the early evening hours.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing West Branch Octoraro Creek in Pennsylvania
Special Regulation Trout Streams in Southeast Pennsylvania
There are 17 special regulation trout streams in southeast Pennsylvania that in many cases extend the fishing season to year-round. These include a variety of streams managed under Catch-and-Release regulations, including a few that are set aside for fly fishing only.
|Bear Creek (DHALO)|
|Brandywine Creek, East Branch (DHALO)||Octoraro Creek, West Branch (CRFFO)|
|Bushkill Creek (CR)||Pickering Creek (DHALO)|
|Donegal Creek (CRFFO)||Ridley Creek (CRFFO)|
|French Creek (CRFFO)||Saucon Creek (TT)|
|Kaercher Creek Dam (ATWOYR)||Tulpehocken Creek (DHALO)|
|Little Lehigh Creek (CRFFO)||Valley Creek (CRAT)|
|Little Schuykill River (DHALO)||West Valley Creek (DHALO)|
|Manatawny Creek||White Clay Creek, Middle Branch (DHALO)|
|Monocacy Creek (TT)||Wissahickon Creek|
7 Best Trout Streams in Northwest Pennsylvania
When it comes to fly fishing in the state, northwest Pennsylvania has a cornucopia of options. Whether you’re looking for brown trout, brook trout, or rainbow trout, you’ll be spoiled for attractive opportunities.
Some of the most popular include Slippery Rock Creek, Piney Creek, Tionesta Creek, and Shenango River. Several of the streams have a Catch and Release section specifically for fly fishers.
Some creeks, like Caldwell, are nestled in the woods, while others, like Hickory, are right next to cities like Pittsburgh. Some of the fisheries are easy for beginners, while others offer a considerable challenge for even the most experienced anglers.
Check the best out below and decide which one you want to visit first.
1. Allegheny River
Allegheny River in PennsylvaniaPhoto by David Fulmer
Some people visit the Allegheny River solely to bask in its beauty, but it offers far more than that for anglers. This river is massive, and by that, we mean it is 325 miles in length. It runs from the northeast, where its headwaters lie to the middle of the state’s northern border before moving back into western Pennsylvania.
The upper part of the river is known as one of PA’s Best Fishing Waters and is stocked with massive trout. The tailwater near the Kinza Dam is another excellent access location for anglers.
This river fishes well at all times of the year, but the fall stands out from other seasons.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania
2. Little Sandy Creek
Fly fishing for wild brown trout in Little Sandy Creek
Little Sandy Creek is a hidden gem in this part of the state, especially for those who want to bring in wild browns. Those who like solitude and a bit of hiking will enjoy experiencing this creek.
Trees and bushes surround the banks for lots of shade and the waters contain runs, pools, and riffles. It’s inhabited by many types of aquatic insects and offers a challenge for an experienced angler who wants to avoid crowds.
The creek is accessible from State Route 3024 and State Route 62, but a short hike is needed to reach the water. Spring is the best time to fish due to the insect hatches, but the biggest fish will be taken in the fall.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Little Sandy Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Oil Creek
Oil Creek in northwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by VitaleBaby
If you want to explore a gorgeous location with tons of insects and trout, Oil Creek is an attractive option. What makes this spot stand out is that it has areas for true beginners and those who are experienced and searching for the best streams in the state.
The creek is over 46 miles long and 100 feet in width in some areas. It offers two delayed harvest areas and you will find smallmouth bass and stock and holdover brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
The two primary access points are at the Oil Creek State Park hiking trail bridge and below Pine Creek. It’s open all year, but spring and fall are the best times to bring in fish.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Oil Creek in Pennsylvania
4. Neshannock Creek
Neshannock Creek in northwest PennsylvaniaPhoto courtesy of Alltrails
Another fishery right in the middle of Amish country is Neshannock Creek. It offers over 25 miles of water fed by tributaries like Mill Run, Beaver Run, and Pine Run. It’s stocked with brown and rainbow trout and has a gorgeous waterfall to take in.
The Delayed Harvest area is one of the 22 Keystone Select Waters in the state with a special stock of older and larger trout. This stream has a vast number of insect harvests and can be fished at any time of year.
The best time to fish here is from March through the end of June. The months of September and October also have their charm. If you head down in the warm months, fishing is best in the morning before the water heats up.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Neshannock Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Slippery Rock Creek
Slippery Rock Creek in northwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by Merrilove
Careful anglers can enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Slippery Rock Creek. However, keep in mind the name of this fishery because it can be dangerous to spend time near.
The creek is a 50 mile tributary of Connoquenessing Creek that moves through McConnells Mill State Park. It’s fed by several other waters, including Hell Run. Hell Run offers Class A Waters but is challenging to reach.
Slippery Rock access is challenging and it’s recommended to use a kayak or canoe since there is little road access. Three areas of the creek are stocked with trout for easy catching. Spring is typically the best time to visit the waters, but smallmouth bass hang around well into the summer.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Slippery Rock Creek in Pennsylvania
6. Hickory Creek
Hickory Creek Wilderness in Allegheny National ForestPhoto courtesy of Alltrails
Based on the excellent trout creeks in Pennsylvania, it’s probably not surprising that some of them end up under the radar. Hickory Creek could be considered one of those – but it shouldn’t be. The creek’s West and East branches offer outstanding fishing of wild brook and brown trout right near Pittsburgh.
The stream is located a few miles from Titusville and has both stocked and wild fish to go after. The better-known branch is on the east and heads through the Allegheny National Forest.
State trout season is the best time for fly fishing, particularly in the spring when insects hatch. The fall brings out more aggressive brown trout with a more manageable bite.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Hickory Creek in Pennsylvania
7. Caldwell Creek
Caldwell Creek fly fishing only section in northwest Pennsylvania
Hidden away from urban areas of the state, Caldwell Creek is a challenging and fun location for experienced anglers. The main stem of the creek has several deep pools and is highly stocked.
It runs around 10 miles before combining with Pine Creek. The water here is always cool, thanks to an abundance of tree limbs overhead. Anglers can access this stream from the bridges on State Route 357 and 304. There is a challenging hike involved, so make sure you are up for that.
The best time to fish at this creek is in the spring, but you can also head down in the fall for larger catches.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Caldwell Creek in Pennsylvania
Special Regulation Trout Streams in Northwest Pennsylvania
Northwest Pennsylvania has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to opportunities to fly fish for rainbow, brown and brook trout including 11 special regulation trout streams, including: Slippery Rock Creek, Caldwell Creek, Little Sandy Creek, Oil Creek, East Hickory Creek, Cool Spring Creek, Neshannock Creek, Piney Creek, Shenango River, West Branch Caldwell Creek and Tionesta Creek.
Nestled in the northwest corner of the state, all of these streams have special regulation sections including Catch and Release fishing on the West Branch Caldwell Creek, and Catch and Release Fly Fishing Only fishing on Little Sandy Creek and Caldwell Creek.
|Allegheny River||Piney Creek (DHALO)|
|Caldwell Creek (CRFFO)||Shenango River|
|Cool Spring Creek (DHALO)||Slippery Rock Creek (CRFFO)|
|East Hickory Creek (DHALO)||Tionesta Creek (APTWYRF)|
|Little Sandy Creek (CRFFO)||West Branch Caldwell Creek (CR)|
|Neshannock Creek (DHALO)|
|Oil Creek (DHALO)|
7 Best Trout Streams in Southwest Pennsylvania
Whether you want a challenge when you fish or prefer to enjoy quick catches, you can find either experience in the streams of Southwest Pennsylvania.
Some rivers, like the Youghiogheny River, run hundreds of miles and offer a variety of trout. Others, such as Meadow Run, are smaller and set in gorgeous locations like Ohiopyle State Park.
The majority of the streams in this area are off the beaten path but offer something special for the work to get to them. So pack up your hiking gear, fishing necessities, and extras and head out to somewhere truly special the next time you have a desire to do some fly fishing.
1. Youghiogheny River
Youghiogheny River in southwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by Dancytron
The Youghiogheny River is a long tailwater tributary that runs 134 miles to the Monongahela River of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. This river stays cool all year long and has a large number of trout and insect hatches. In the warmer months, it’s best to stay upstream where the water is cooler.
This river is stocked by the state with brown and rainbow trout and has some wild brooks and browns. There’s access to the river from the bank close to a bike trail or you can head out in a drift boat.
Unlike some rivers, the best time for fly fishing here is during the fall when the brown trout grow large. Spring access is available but depends on the water level.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania
2. Loyalhanna Creek
Loyalhanna Creek in southwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by Margaret Luzier
When you visit Loyalhanna Creek, you can expect a relaxing environment with a large insect population and many brown trout. Depending on when you visit, it can be challenging to fish for some anglers.
The best spots to fish are accessed from State Route 2045, State Route 30, or State Route 711. The Delayed Harvest section is recommended which can be found starting in Ligonier. You’ll also find lots of fish below this section and down to Kingston.
It’s a wade-accessible creek but be sure to check the streamflow before a trip. The insect hatches make spring the best time to visit, as the water gets too warm in the summer.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Loyalhanna Creek in Pennsylvania
3. Laurel Hill Creek
Laurel Hill Creek trout fishing in southwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by Michael Evanko
Laurel Hill Creek is one of those spots that require a lengthy hike to access. However, once you have a chance to try the waters, it might become a spot you revisit time after time. The creek is stocked with rainbows, brooks, and browns but also offers wild brooks and browns.
It’s easily accessible from the road beneath Humbert, but the rest of the stream requires a hike to access. You’ll want to bring good hiking shoes and make sure you’re in good shape.
Many people fish this creek near the gorge inside State Game Lands #111, which requires hiking. Spring is the best time to fish, but fall is also a good fly fishing season.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Laurel Hill Creek in Pennsylvania
4. Clear Shade Creek
Brown trout caught in Clear Shade Creek in southwest Pennsylvania
The start of Clear Shade Creek is located in the Gallitzin State Forest, where it runs south until it merges with Dark Shade Creek. It goes through Ogletown before reaching Route 56 and then heading back into the state forest at the Clear Shade Wild Area.
The creek is stocked by the Windber Sportsmen’s Club and the Fly and Boat Commission with browns and brooks. The fish can reach up to 14 inches, while the wild catches will be a bit smaller.
You can access the creek from Fisherman’s Path at a short hike from Clear Shade Road. The best fishing happens in spring, but the area also has many fish and a beautiful setting in the fall.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Clear Shade Creek in Pennsylvania
5. Little Mahoning Creek
Little Mahoning Creek in southwest PennsylvaniaPhoto by The Tribune-Democrat
At Little Mahoning Creek, also known as “Little Mo,” you’ll find heavily stocked headwaters as wide as 30 feet. If you head to the upper areas, it runs through gorgeous pastures with bushes and trees along the bank. It has deep, large pools that offer hiding spots for trout and riffle and fast runs.
You can expect to see rainbow, brown, and brook trout at this location. You can access the creek from State Road #1038 with several side roads and bridges that offer entry.
The best area to fish is the Catch and Release spot below Nashville. The insect hatches primarily occur in spring, making this the best time for fly fishing on the creek.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Little Mahoning Creek in Pennsylvania
6. Dunbar Creek
Dunbar Creek in southwest Pennsylvania Photo by Ben Moyer
While Dunbar Creek doesn’t have the best history, things are better now, and it offers a variety of brown and brook trout. The stream runs about 12 miles and is fed by Glade Run. The water quality and insect population are doing much better than in the past due to volunteer assistance and increased regulations.
The Catch and Release area near the Game Commission Building and the upper reaches in State Game Lands #51 are two of the best places for fly fishing.
The best time to fish is in spring when the insects start to get active. Summer isn’t the best since the water levels can drop.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Dunbar Creek in Pennsylvania
7. Meadow Run
Meadow Run in Ohiopyle State Park in southwest PennsylvaniaPhoto courtesy of Alltrails
Located in a scenic area of Ohiopyle State Park, Meadow Run is a gorgeous stream that eventually leads to the Youghiogheny River. The waters are filled with stocked trout and you may even see a few wild rainbows in the deeper pools.
This location is often visited by tourists and families who want to swim, so it’s best for those who don’t mind a little company. You can access this area from Meadow Run Trail but stick to the deep pools for the best catches.
Spring is the best time to fish since summer makes the water too warm. The late evenings and early afternoons are recommended.
For more information check out our DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Meadow Run in Pennsylvania
Special Regulation Trout Streams in Southwest Pennsylvania
There are over 15 special regulation trout streams in southwest Pennsylvania that extend the regular trout season to year round under Catch-and-Release regulations. Delayed harvest streams are also a great option for fly fishing as they don’t cleaned out on opening day!
|Buffalo Creek (DHALO)||Indian Creek (DHALO)|
|Bull Creek (DHALO)||Laurel Hill Creek (DHALO)|
|Camp Run (WBTE)||Little Chartiers Creek|
|Chest Creek (DHALO)||Little Mahoning Creek (CRFFO)|
|Clear Shade Creek (CRFFO)||Loyalhanna Creek (DHALO)|
|Deer Creek (DHALO)||Meadow Run (DHALO)|
|Dunbar Creek (CRFFO)||Pike Run (DHALO)|
|Dutch Fork Creek (DHALO)||Pine Creek (DHALO)|
|Youghiogheny River (ATTTO)|
Pennsylvania’s Steelhead Alley
If it’s steelhead that you’re after then of course the tributaries to Lake Erie in Steelhead Alley are where you need to go.
Check out our Steelhead Alley Fishing Guide for maps, stream gauges and all you need to know to about fishing Steelhead Alley.
Best Flies for Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania fly hatches include most mayfly, caddis and stonefly species. That said you don’t need to have exact imitation of ever fly to be successful. A few basic dry fly patterns such as an Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and blue-winged olive, along with some simple nymphs and streamers are all you really need to get started.
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Essential Fly Fishing Gear
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on most trout streams in PA. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 6-wt with a sink tip fly line makes life easier. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
PA Fly Shops, Guides & Outfitters
Pennsylvania fly shops, fly fishing guides and outfitters are listed by region below. Be sure to stop in at your local shop to get the latest fishing report and pick up any fishing supplies you may need.
Note: If you own a fly shop or guide service and would like to be listed below, please contact us.
Northeastern PA – Delaware River and Lehigh River watersheds
- A.A. Outfitters Fly Shop
- A&G Outfitters
- Delaware River Club
- Dunkelbergers Sports Outfitter
- The Evening Hatch Fly Shop
Southeastern PA – Delaware River and Schuylkill River watersheds
Northcentral PA – Susquehanna East & West Rivers watersheds
- Big Meadows Fly Shop
- Big Moores Run Lodge
- The Feathered Hook
- Flyfisher’s Paradise
- Slate Run Tackle Shop
- TCO Fly Shop State College
- McConnell’s Country Store
PA Fly Fishing Books & Maps
There are a number of excellent books and guides available on fly fishing in Pennsylvania. A few that I highly recommend are listed below:
- Flyfisher’s Guide to Pennsylvania by Tom Gilmore
- Trout Streams and Hatches of Pennsylvania by Charles Meck
- Flyfisher’s Guide to Eastern Trophy Tailwaters: 40 Great Trout Waters from Maine to Georgia by Tom Gilmore
- Pocketguide to Pennsylvania Hatches by Charles Meck & Paul Weamer
- Pennsylvania Atlas And Gazetteer by Delorme