The 16 Best Trout Fishing Streams in Pennsylvania: Expert Guide

Known as the Keystone State, Pennsylvania is a haven for passionate anglers seeking pristine waters and thrilling trout fishing experiences. With its diverse range of ecosystems, picturesque landscapes, and abundant …

Known as the Keystone State, Pennsylvania is a haven for passionate anglers seeking pristine waters and thrilling trout fishing experiences. With its diverse range of ecosystems, picturesque landscapes, and abundant trout populations, this state offers some of the finest fishing opportunities in the United States.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the 16 best spots for trout fishing in Pennsylvania. Each waterway has been selected based on its scenic beauty, trout population, angling accessibility, and the overall fishing experience I, and other anglers, have had there.

When and How to Catch Trout in Pennsylvania

Season

The trout fishing season in Pennsylvania typically runs from early April to mid-July. However, specific dates may vary depending on the exact region and the type of waterway you’re fishing in. Always check the Fish and Boat Commission’s website for the latest regulations and updates on any season changes in Lake Erie or other wild trout waters.

Time of Day

Early mornings and late evenings are generally the best times for fishing in Pennsylvania and targeting trout since they are more likely to feed closer to the surface during these times. However, trout can be caught throughout the day, so don’t hesitate to explore different fishing times.

Fly Fishing

Using lightweight fly rods, you can easily imitate insects and other prey species that trout feed on. Effective fly patterns include nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Matching the hatch and selecting the appropriate fly based on the trout’s seasonal feeding behaviors is ideal.

Spin Fishing

Spin fishing is another widely practiced method. You will typically use spinning rods, reels, artificial lures, or live bait such as small spinners, spoons, and soft plastics that mimic the trout’s natural food sources.

Bait Fishing

Bait fishing is a straightforward and effective technique for catching trout in Pennsylvania. Common baits include worms, salmon eggs, corn, and PowerBait. Using small hooks and appropriate weights will present the bait in a natural manner the fish will recognize.

Best Trout Rivers and Streams in Pennsylvania

Letort Spring Run

Letort Spring Run Fishing

Location

Carlisle, Cumberland County

Overview

Letort Spring Run is well known for its challenging yet rewarding fishing experience. It is a limestone spring creek with crystal-clear fishing waters, abundant insect life, and some exceptionally sized trout.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with small and delicate dry flies and nymphs are highly effective. I rarely see anyone here that doesn’t fly fish for their trout, but almost 100% of the anglers here practice catch and release.

Trout Species

Wild Brook Trout, large Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Spring Creek

Fly Fishing Spring Creek

Location

State College, Centre County

Overview

Spring Creek is a popular destination for both local and visiting trout anglers. Spring Creek offers excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year thanks to its consistent water temperatures and diverse insect hatches.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers is productive. Sight fishing is also common.

Trout Species

Wild Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Penns Creek

Pennsyvlania Trout Fishing Penns Creek

Location

Coburn, Union County

Overview

Penns Creek is one of Pennsylvania’s finest wild trout fisheries and one of my personal favorite spots to travel for trout fishing. It spans a long stretch and offers a variety of habitats, including ripples, pools, and pocket water which make it great for catch-and-release practices.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers is recommended. Terrestrial patterns can be productive during the summer months. I’ve had my best luck with dry flies in various color patterns.

Trout Species

Wild Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Wild Brook Trout.

Pine Creek

Pennsyvlania Trout Fishing Pine Creek. Phot by Nicholas Tonelli (image under creative commons licence).
Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Pine Creek. Photo by Nicholas Tonelli (image under creative commons license).

Location

Waterville, Tioga County

Overview

Pine Creek is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania because it offers breathtaking scenery and absolutely incredible trout fishing. Its deep spring creek pools and challenging pocket water provide a thrilling angling experience for experienced anglers looking for a bit of a thrill.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. Spin fishing with small lures and bait fishing can also work.

Trout Species

Wild Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Native Brook Trout.

Little Juniata River

Little Juniata River Pennsylvania trout fishing

Location

Tyrone, Blair County

Overview

The Little Juniata River is known for its high amount of aquatic insect hatches and challenging trout. It offers both wild and stocked trout fishing opportunities in a beautiful setting.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Fishing during insect hatches can yield great results, and catch-and-release is recommended but not required here.

Trout Species

Large Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Youghiogheny River

Youghiogheny River Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Caption CC BY SA 2.5, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=305892
Youghiogheny River Pennsylvania Trout Fishing CC BY SA 2.5

Location

Ohiopyle, Fayette County

Overview

The Youghiogheny River, commonly called the “Yough,” is a very scenic waterway known for its excellent trout fishing and exciting rapids. It offers a mix of stocked and wild trout, along with several great spots for taking photographs or videos.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies is always highly successful. Spin fishing with small lures and bait fishing can also be effective.

Trout Species

Wild Brown Trout, Wild and Stocked Rainbow Trout, and Brook Trout.

Yellow Breeches Creek

Yellow Breeches Creek image . Caption By Staecker Own work, Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=2332890)
Fishing on the Yellow Breeches Creek in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. Photo by Staecker (own work).

Location

Boiling Springs, Cumberland County

Overview

Yellow Breeches Creek is a limestone spring creek recognized for its challenging trout and consistent hatches. It flows through beautiful farmlands and offers diverse fishing opportunities. The area is beautiful, but I have found it to be a bit more lucrative for experienced fly fishermen rather than casual weekend anglers.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Sight fishing and match-the-hatch techniques are helpful.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout.

Tulpehocken Creek

Location

Reading, Berks County

Overview

Tulpehocken Creek is a tailwater spring creek fishery below Blue Marsh Lake. It provides anglers with year-round monster trout fishing opportunities and consistent water temperatures. This is an excellent spot to bring the whole family since it has a lot of areas that are great for beginners.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. Fishing with small lures can also be productive.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Kettle Creek

Location

Westport, Clinton County

Overview

Kettle Creek is a remote and scenic waterway nestled in the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania. It offers a mix of stocked and wild trout fishing in a peaceful setting with very few other anglers around. Smallmouth bass can also be found here.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies. Fishing pocket water and deep pools can yield good results too.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Golden Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout.

Falling Spring Branch

Location

Chambersburg, Franklin County

Overview

Falling Spring Branch is a limestone spring creek known for its exceptional water quality and diverse aquatic insects. It offers both stocked and wild trout fishing opportunities.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Matching the hatch and presenting imitations accurately is essential for the fish in this location.

Trout Species

Rainbow Trout, Brown, and Brook Trout.

West Branch Delaware River

Location

Hancock, Wayne County

Overview

The West Branch Delaware River is a legendary trout fishery known for its challenging trout and beautiful spring creek surroundings. It offers both wild and stocked monster trout fishing opportunities and is one of my personal top 5 Pennsylvania trout fishing destinations.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Drift boat fishing and wading are common techniques used in this wild trout stream.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Clarion River

clarion River Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Caption By Zach Rudisin Own work, CC BY SA 3.0
Clarion River Pennsylvania Trout Fishing. Photo by Zach Rudisin (own work), CC BY SA 3.0

Location

Ridgway, Elk County

Overview

The Clarion River offers anglers a unique trout fishing experience in a scenic and remote setting. It is a popular destination for fly fishing professionals as well as beginners.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Float fishing and wading are common and very effective methods.

Trout Species

Rainbow Trout, Brown, and Brook Trout.

Cross Fork Creek

Cross Fork Creek Pennsylvania Trout Fishing

Location

Cross Fork, Potter County

Overview

Cross Fork Creek is a remote and pristine wild trout stream nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania’s wilds. It offers excellent fishing for both stocked and wild trout in a spring creek that also has small populations of smallmouth bass.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Fishing pocket water and deep pools can be productive.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbows, Golden Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout.

Oil Creek

Oil Creek Pennsylvania Trout Fishing

Location

Titusville, Venango County

Overview

Oil Creek is a unique trout fishery known for its history and scenic beauty. It offers a mix of stocked and wild trout, as well as the opportunity to fish in Pennsylvania’s oil region. You’ll get some seriously great fishing here!

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spin fishing with small lures and bait fishing can also be effective.

Trout Species

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout.

Little Lehigh Creek

Little Lehigh Creek Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Caption By Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States Little Lehigh Park Allentown, PennsylvaniaUploaded by GrapedApe, CC BY SA 2
Little Lehigh Creek Pennsylvania Trout Fishing. Photo by Doug Kerr from Albany (Uploaded by GrapedApe, CC BY SA 2)

Location

Allentown, Lehigh County

Overview

Little Lehigh Creek is a popular trout fishery in eastern Pennsylvania. It offers a mix of stocked and holdover trout in a picturesque setting, and many fly fishermen have said this is the best trout fishing spot for a hundred miles.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Sight fishing and matching the hatch are essential.

Trout Species

Brown Trout and Rainbows.

Loyalhanna Creek

Loyalhanna Creek Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Caption

Location

Ligonier, Westmoreland County

Overview

Loyalhanna Creek is a scenic waterway that offers a mix of stocked and wild trout fishing. It flows through forested areas and features a variety of fishing opportunities.

Best Techniques

Fly fishing with nymphs, dry flies, and streamers. Spin fishing with small lures can also be effective.

Trout Species

Rainbow Trout, Brown, and Brook Trout.

Trout Species

Brown Trout

Brown Trout are a popular sportfish and can be found in many streams, rivers, and lakes throughout the state. Brown trout have a brown or olive-green body with distinct black and red spots, and they can grow to impressive sizes.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout are widely stocked in the state’s waterways, making them accessible to anglers across the state. They have a silvery body with a pink or red stripe running along their sides, and they exhibit vibrant colors, especially during the spawning season.

Brook Trout

Pennsylvania’s state fish is native to the cold and clean fishing waters of the state’s mountain streams. Wild Brook Trout have a beautiful appearance with a dark body covered in intricate worm-like markings and vibrant orange, red, and yellow fins.

Are There Good Lakes to Fish for Trout in Pennsylvania?

Yes, Pennsylvania offers several lakes that provide excellent fishing opportunities for trout. While many anglers associate trout fishing with streams and rivers, there are lakes in the state that are specifically managed for trout populations. 

Lake Erie, Lake Wallenpaupack, and Raystown Reservoir are three very popular lakes for trout fishing. The first can be extremely crowded during the busy seasons, but Wallenpaupack and Raystown are excellent options for fly fishing or sight fishing.

Do I Need a License to Fish for Trout in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you need a fishing license to fish for trout in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission fishing license can be obtained online through the PFBC website or in person at authorized license-issuing agents across the state.

What Are the Bag Limits and Size Limits for Trout Fishing Pennsylvania?

Generally, anglers can keep a daily limit of five trout, with a minimum size limit of 7 inches. However, there are exceptions and special regulations in place for certain areas, such as Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DH-ALO) sections and Trophy Trout streams, which may have different bag limits and size restrictions.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.