Pennsylvania Fly Fishing 4 min read

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Youghiogheny River in Southwest Pennsylvania

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

April 8, 2024

Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

Youghiogheny River isn’t the easiest river to pronounce nor 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.

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

Check out the rest of our guide to tackle this stream safely and successfully.

About the Yough

Fly fishing the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

The Youghiogheny River is a 134-mile 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. The aquatic insect hatchery and trout population both bounced back nicely. The stream now has an excellent aquatic insect population.

The creek’s temperature 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 also find wild brown and brook trout here. 

You can wade in some areas of Youghiogheny River, but you should 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 and Ohiopyle. 

The safest way to tackle this stream is by a drift boat. It would be best to be cautious when wading, as the water is deceptively deep and very swift in some areas. Below Bruner Run takeout, there is a hazardous section of rough water. It isn’t easy 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. The water gets warmer downstream, so you should avoid this area in the summer.

Stream Flow and Current Conditions

Check the stream conditions before heading out to fish. The USGS stream gauges near Confluence, PA, and further downstream at Ohiopyle, PA, provide 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), then fishing conditions may not be ideal.

Youghiogheny River below Confluence, PA

  • Temperature: 55.22 ° F
  • Streamflow: 897 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 2.47 ft
Temperature GraphStreamflow GraphGage height Graph

Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle, PA

  • Temperature: 55.22 ° F
  • Streamflow: 932 ft³/s
  • Gage height: 1.90 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 due to the spawn. You can also succeed in the spring, but 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 articulated 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 a floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Youghiogheny River.

If you plan to throw big streamers in search of big trout, you’ll want a 6-wt or even 7-wt rod. 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 online 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.

  • From the dam downstream to its conflict with the Casselman River, the Youghiogheny 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 in the area. Kentuck Campground in Ohiopyle State Park is a great option on the river. Montour Trail Campground is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania and offers proximity to many other quality fisheries in the region. Comfort Inn is a reasonably priced lodging option with comfortable and clean rooms. 

If 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