Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Youghiogheny River in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

January 14, 2020

Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

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Youghiogheny River isn’t the easiest river to pronounce, nor is it the easiest fishery to tackle in Pennsylvania. But if you aren’t afraid of a challenge, you’ll want to check out the Yough for your next fishing adventure.

Youghiogheny River had its problems in the past, but it is now a scenic stream that offers year-round fishing. You’ll need to use plenty of caution in these waters, as the river has several treacherous sections.

Check out the rest of our guide so you can tackle this stream safely and successfully.

About the Yough

Fly fishing the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

Youghiogheny River is a 134 mile long tailwater tributary of the Monongahela River in West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The word “Youghiogheny” comes from a Lenape word, meaning “a stream flowing in a contrary direction.” It rises in Preston County, West Virginia. The river enters Pennsylvania between Fayette and Somerset counties. It flows northwest through Chestnut Ridge and past Connellsville, joining the Monongahela River at McKeesport.

The River suffered after a spill injected mine acid into the waters, although, thankfully, the fishery recovered quickly, with the aquatic insect hatch and trout population both bouncing back nicely. The stream now has an excellent aquatic insect population.

The temperature of the Creek remains cool throughout the year, so you can catch sizable trout all year round, although downstream gets too warm for good fly fishing in the summer. The state stocks the River with rainbow and brown trout, and you can find wild brown and brook trout here as well. 

You can wade in some areas of Youghiogheny River, but you should be careful to avoid the rough water sections. The best way to take on the stream is with a drift boat.

Youghiogheny River Map and Fishing Access Sites

map of fishing spots on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

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

Best Spots to Fish Youghiogheny River

You can access Youghiogheny River from the bank, near a bike trail that follows the west side of the River. The most popular place to fly fish is between the dam downstream to Ohiopyle. 

The safest way to tackle this stream is by a drift boat. You need to be very cautious when wading, as the water is deceptively deep in some areas and very swift. Below Bruner Run takeout, there is a hazardous section of rough water. It is very difficult to wade or fish from a drift boat below Ohiopyle. If you take the road to Camp Carmel, you can access the stream, below the rapids downstream. Downstream, the water gets warmer, so you will want to avoid this area in the summer.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish Youghiogheny River. The USGS stream gauges near Confluence, PA and then further downstream at Ohiopyle, PA provide 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 maybe not be ideal.

Youghiogheny River below Confluence, PA

  • Temperature: 44.42 ° F
  • Streamflow: 1260 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.92 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle, PA

  • Temperature: 44.42 ° F
  • Streamflow: 1350 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.50 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Best Time to Fish Youghiogheny River

The season for Youghiogheny River is standard Pennsylvania trout season. Fall is the best time to visit, as you will find larger brown trout during this time due to the spawn. You can also have success in the spring, but be sure to check the water levels before you head out. 

You can fish the Youghiogheny in the summer, as the water stays cool throughout the hottest months. In the winter, you’ll find a decent population of midges even on the coldest days.

Best Flies for Youghiogheny River

Throwing big articulates streamers is a good way to target the large rainbow trout that inhabit the Yough.  The bigger trout feast on the high numbers of fingerling trout the state and local organizations stock.

Important hatches in the Spring on the Yough are little black stoneflies followed by caddis flies (olive and tan), Quill Gordons, March Browns and sulphurs.  The summer brings Slate Drakes that hatch till September giving way to blue-winged olives and then October caddis.

Here is a list of generally recommended fly patterns for the Yough:

  • Adams (#12-16)
  • Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail (#12-18)
  • Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear (#12-18)
  • T.H. Soft Hackle Caddis Pupa (#14-18)
  • Hare’s Ear Nymph (Olive & Tan) (#12-18)
  • Rubber Legged Stoneflies (#8-12)
  • Bead Head Giant Stone (#6-12)
  • TH Zebra Midge (#16-20)
  • Midge Dry (#18-26)
  • Midge Larva (#16-20)
  • Egg (any) (#12-16)
  • Wooly Bugger (Black, Olive, White) (#6-10)

Gear Recommendations

A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Youghiogheny River.  You’ll want a 6-wt or even 7-wt rod if you plan to throw big streamers in search of big trout. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Youghiogheny River Fishing Reports

Area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Youghiogheny River fly fishing reports 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.

  • The Youghiogheny River from the dam downstream to its confluece with the Casselman River is closed from April 1 until the season opener.  Trout season in southwest PA begins the third Saturday of April.
  • A portion of the Yough is managed under All Tackle Trophy Trout (ATTTO) regulations. The ATTTO section runs from Ramcat Run downstream nine miles to the Route 381 bridge in Ohiopyle, about one-quarter mile above the Ohiopyle Falls.

Youghiogheny River fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Trip Planning Tips

The nearest airport to Youghiogheny River is Pittsburgh International Airport. 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 a variety of campgrounds to choose from in the area. Kentuck Campground in Ohiopyle State Park is right on the river and a great option. Montour Trail Campground is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania and offers close proximity to many other quality fisheries in the region. Comfort Inn is a reasonably priced lodging option, with comfortable and clean rooms. 

As long as you exercise caution, you will have an excellent and unforgettable experience at Youghiogheny River, no matter when you choose to visit.

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

Feature Image by Dancytron