June 12, 2018
By Jeff Knapp
Don't hang up your waders yet! These Pennsylvania trout streams hold up well for fishing through June.
Sadly, by the time June rolls around many trout anglers have hung up their waders for the season, feeling most of the state's trout have been caught and creeled for the year.
For those who pursue their sport on one of the state's put-and-take streams, there might some validity to this strategy. Depending on the weather and stream flows of the year, trout angling on such waters can become sketchy.
Water temperatures rise, streamside vegetation thickens, the air can become hot and humid, and other summertime activities compete for limited recreation time.
However, our state does offer good trout fishing into the summer months, and in some cases chances for excellent sport. For instance, tailrace areas below dams with bottom discharges stay cool throughout the summer months.
The trout fisheries there, often fueled by stockings of fingerling-stage trout, can include big trout. We also have streams enriched and cooled by limestone springs. Also, it's often a fallacy that stocked streams are "fished out" after Memorial Day.
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If the season is cool and wet, good sport is often extended well into the summer season, and you'll often have the water to yourself.
Here's a look at a few of the best options for summer trout fishing this season.
ALLEGHENY RIVER — WARREN COUNTY
The middle Allegheny River flows for well over 100 miles, from the outflow of Kinzua Dam down to the start of the impounded lower Allegheny near East Brady. The extreme upper section of the middle Allegheny, from the Kinzua outflow to where Conewango Creek joins it in Warren, is managed as a special-regulations trout stream.
The multi-level discharge of Kinzua provides cooler water temperatures, an effect that extends at least as far downriver as Warren, where the warming influence of Conewango mixes in.
Within these 8.75 miles, during the part of the season from the opening day in mid-April through Labor Day, the limit is two trout, which must be a minimum of 14-inches long to be creeled.
Following Labor Day (until the opener of the following year) it's catch-and-release for trout. The trout population is maintained by the stocking of fingerling brown and rainbow trout, with brown trout being stocked more heavily.
According to veteran river guide Red Childress (www.alleghenyguideservice.com) June is a good time to target trout on the Allegheny.
"Early summer around these parts is like late spring elsewhere, due to the slow warming of the water, especially closer to the dam outflow," he explained.
He added that fishable populations of trout exist below Warren, particularly within the first three miles, but that numbers decline substantially downriver from there.
While trout fishing has declined a bit the last couple years, for reasons Childress cannot put his finger on, he said it's still a quality fishery, one where fish from a foot long up to 30 inches are possible.
He said that in recent years most of the trout boated by his clients have been in the 15- to 21-inch range, with browns outnumbering rainbows about three-to-one.
By late May and early June, Childress said trout can be anywhere within the special regulations areas, but he sees the larger rainbows in the riffle areas once the water gets above 45 degrees.
"The browns can be anywhere, but if you're looking for an alpha male, the ends of the riffles where the water slows down and deepens is where I would spend my time," he noted. "Overcast days are absolutely my favorite time, especially if the water is low."
Childress said the water tends to stay clear in this section, and that low water can make things tough during the summer, with the dawn and dusk twilight periods providing the bites. He noted too that canoe and drift boat traffic can be heavy during the summer, which can present problems for the shore/wading angler during peak periods.
So far as baits are concerned, Childress likes suspending jerkbaits, larger Mepps spinner with dressed trebles, jigs and small spinnerbaits for trout.
"Evening topwater can also produce, such as 'mousing' and smaller walk-the-dog lures as well," he said. "Do not overlook larger streamer and terrestrial patterns, as this section of the river is loaded with crayfish, sculpin and madtoms."
Dry flies can be productive, Childress said, but rarely coax trout larger than 14 inches into eating.
This section of the river can be accessed by Route 59 along the east bank, and Hemlock Road on the west. Childress also runs guide trips that target trout.
YOUGHIOGHENY RIVER — FAYETTE AND SOMERSET COUNTIES
The Youghiogheny, commonly referred to as "the Yough," is another good tailwater fishery, and one that provides good trout angling throughout the summer months.
It's stocked with adult trout in the immediate tailrace area. And from the mouth of the Casselman River down to the Connelsville area it's stocked with fingerling brown and rainbow trout.
According to Pete Cartwright, a wading guide (www.smalliesontheyough.com) that targets both trout and smallmouth bass, the Yough provides year-round angling, summer included.
A native of the area, he's taken trout well over 20 inches from both the tailrace and downriver sections. It has the potential to provide both good numbers and size. He adds that several private clubs stock trout, adding to the numbers from state stocking. Plenty of fish in the 12- to 17-inch range are present, both browns and rainbows.
Come summertime, Cartwright suggests keying in on faster runs, particularly once the water gets low. While wading can be difficult if flows are up, he says most stretches are relatively kind to anglers. An exception would be the whitewater stretch below Ohiopyle. But even within this section wading can be accomplished in spots during lower flows.
Robert Blosser Tip: Never Leave Fish
A favorite tactic of Cartwright's is to drift a lightly weighted artificial worm within riffle areas. He particularly likes 412 Bait Company's Trout Worms, three-inch worms offered in a variety of colors.
Other options include classic spinners such as the Rooster Tail in the 1/8-ounce size. He's also fond of the original floating Rapala minnow fished in a stop-and-go fashion that allows it to rise back to the surface.
It's common in larger rivers like the Yough to pick up multiple species during an outing, especially in areas farther downriver from the cooling influence of tailwaters, where water temperatures warm and gradually become more hospitable to smallmouth bass than trout. In areas such as this Cartwright catches both species, often on 412 Bait Company's 3.5-inch tube.
Access to the Yough is good, with options for those looking for both "easy access" and places removed from the masses. A hiking trail parallels the river, and can be picked up at points such as Ramcat, Connelsville and West Newton.
Several special regulations areas apply to the Yough. From the reservoir outflow down the mouth of the Casselman River, it's managed as a stocked trout water open to fishing year around. From Ramcat Run down to the Route 381 Bridge at Ohiopyle Trophy Trout, All Tackle regulations apply. Miscellaneous trout regulations apply to much of the rest of the river. Be sure to consult your current Summary of Rules and Regulations to be sure you're familiar with the details of the section you are fishing.
WEST BRANCH DELAWARE RIVER/
UPPER MAIN STEM
Both the lower reaches of the West Branch of the Delaware River and the upper portion of the Main Stem furnish Pennsylvania anglers with a unique opportunity: To fish for large, stream-bred trout, ones willing to take dry flies, in an almost western-like setting.
The upper Delaware trout fishery is a result of water supply reservoirs on both the West Branch and the East Branch (both of which are in New York). The reservoirs are bottom-discharge impoundments with release water cold enough to support the trout.
Naturally, the water warms as the distance from the reservoirs increases. Also, releases are not timed in regard to the trout fishery, but rather the needs of New York City's water supply.
So, trout activity and location are commonly in a state of flux. This said, insect life in the upper Delaware is abundant and varied; its wild trout make good use of the food supply. The trout population is excellent. Understand though, these fish see a lot of angler attention and are not easy to catch.
Much of the upper Delaware flows through private lands. Angler access is available in many areas, the future of which requires excellent angler behavior.
This is big water, particularly by eastern standards. One of the best ways to enjoy the upper Delaware, particularly if it's your first time there, is to hire an outfitter and float it. You can cover lots of water, learn about access areas, and become acquainted with the finicky nature of its trout.
Pennsylvania's portion of the West Branch starts just downriver of Hale Eddy (NY). For the wading angler, a good area to check out on the West Branch flows through a portion of Pennsylvania state game lands, and is known locally as the upper and lower game lands accesses. It's about a 300 to 400-yard walk from the game lands parking areas to the river.
The upper Delaware — including the West Branch — is a border water separating Pennsylvania and New York. A reciprocal agreement allows anglers from either state to fish from either bank with their resident licenses.
There is a two-fish, 12-inch minimum length limit on the West Branch; a one fish, 14-inch minimum on the main stem north of Interstate 84. Regardless, most trout anglers release these wild trout.
For guide services visit www.river-of-life.com.
LITTLE JUNIATA RIVER
Benefitting from an influx of cold water provided by numerous limestone springs, the 13.7 miles of the Little Juniata River managed as "All Tackle, Catch and Release" provides excellent fishing for stream-bred brown trout.
The special regulations area begins near Ironville and extends downstream. Any legal form of gear is permitted — including bait, hardware and flies — but all trout must be released.
The Little J is a sizeable stream, over 100 feet wide in most places. Wading can be challenging because some areas feature a cobble bottom that mimics wading over slippery bowling balls.
By June, flows are typically lower, less than 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the USGS gauge at Spruce Creek, and wading becomes easier. When flow rates are over 400 cfs, float fishing becomes a good option, particularly for using a kayak or canoe as a taxi to reach choice areas, and then getting out to wade fish.
Numerous roads parallel or cross this portion of the Little J. Areas around the town of Spruce Creek are especially easy to get to. Above the town of Barree one can hike up into Rothrock State Forest for a more secluded setting.
Explore far enough upriver and you'll reach a section of private club waters. You can fish this section, but must stay within the highwater mark to do so. And you cannot cross posted private land to get there.
Much of the Little J is bordered by railroad tracks; train traffic is frequent. So, don't go there expecting silent tranquility (though in short order you'll hardly notice the trains).
Most of the wild browns will range from 10 to 14 inches, though it's not at all uncommon to catch larger ones. Rainbows also show up, and are typically of a good size. Rainbows are more common from Spruce Creek downstream.
The Little J has an abundance of bug life. All-purpose nymphs like the Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, Hares Ear and muskrat nymph produce well. At times, swinging wet flies like soft hackles can work well.
Despite its limestone influence, during prolonged summertime hot weather, water temperatures can get warm enough to overly stress caught trout.
It's wise to use your stream thermometer to check things out, use the 70-degree mark as a "line in the sand" which indicates it's too warm for the wild trout to recover easily from being caught.
By all means, get out there and enjoy some of the best warm-weather trout fishing our state has to offer.