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Best Places for Trout Fishing in Pennsylvania

It's no fish tale — these cities across the state offer some of the best trout fishing on Earth.

By Rebecca Treon on February 14, 2023

Wild Brook Trout caught at Penns Creek in PA.
Bryce Inners / iStock.com

If the expression “A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work” rings true for you, get your flies tied and your reels ready — throughout Pennsylvania, you’ll find some of the best trout fishing in the world. Whether you’re spin or fly fishing, the state is teeming with wild and stocked brook, brown and rainbow trout (both steelhead and golden rainbow) plus lake trout in Lake Erie, Raystown Lake and the East Branch Clarion River Dam.

Pennsylvania’s landscape offers unique habitats — small mountain brooks, limestone streams, the tributaries that feed Lake Erie, and rivers like the Upper and West Branches of the Delaware and Youghiogheny Rivers. If that’s not enough to reel you in, check the numbers: There are 16,000-plus miles of wild trout streams, 5,000 miles of stocked trout streams, and 125 stocked trout lakes, assuring that every angler has a fishing experience that’s off the hook.

As always, if you want to avoid opening a can of worms, remember that anglers 16 and older need a fishing license, including trout stamp. For details on licensing, seasons, harvest regulations, stocking dates and consumption guidelines, visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website.

Meanwhile, here are some of the best places to fish for trout in Pennsylvania.

trout fishing in Pennsylvania
Bastiaan Slabbers / iStock.com

Philadelphia, PA

On Philly’s north side, Wissahickon Valley Park (one of 600 National Natural Landmarks of the United States) is a lush, 1,800-acre park with wooded and forested areas, meadows, a gorge, 50 miles of trails and miles of fishing opportunities on the Wissahickon Creek. The area is full of local history and is well-known for birders, hikers, bikers and equestrians. What will lure fishers in, though, is that the Wissahickon Creek is stocked with trout every spring and is ideal for both spin and fly fishing, and offers an extended fishing season.

The stream spans 23 fishable miles, with great fishing opportunities throughout, especially in currents, deep pools, slow pools and under the dams. The most popular access point is Forbidden Drive, a graveled, no-cars-allowed trail which runs for 5 miles along the west bank of the creek. The creek is accessible to wade fishers and is great for spin or fly fishing. If you need advice on the best bait to use at each time during the season, the Fish and Boat Commission offers a handy guide on the Wissahickon Creek. Top the day off with a meal at the historic Valley Green Inn, a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Volant, PA

In picturesque Amish country outside of Pittsburgh, Neshannock Creek in Volant is a veritable paradise for fishers. The name means “a place of two streams,” in Unami, and is a 26-mile run that becomes a tributary to the Shenango River. The Neshannock has a 2.6-mile portion that is dedicated to delayed hatching, and is stocked with rainbow and brown trout, plus it’s a designated Keystone Select Water, meaning the year-round site is stocked with older, larger fish. The creek has a waterfall and a covered bridge and is surrounded by picturesque farms. With its proximity to the quaint shops and restaurants of Volant Village (some of which are inside former railroad cars), the area attracts lots of visitors both on and off the water.

You’ll find local experts on water conditions and bait at Neshannock Creek Fly Shop (they have whatever tackle you need and even offer guided fishing), plus they have a parking lot that offers easy access to the water. While that area may be very popular, if you park near the shops and follow the Neshannock Creek Trail for a few miles, you’ll find less frequented waters and have a good chance of hooking the big one.

Fly fishing in the Fall

Carlisle, PA

In South-Central Pennsylvania, the LeTort Stream is one of the most famous places in the country to fly fish. The 9.4-mile-long limestone creek is a tributary of the Conodoguinet Creek in Cumberland County and is regarded by many as the birthplace of terrestrial fishing. The iconic stream has become a mecca of sorts, frequented by legendary anglers Vince Marinaro and Charlie Fox and thousands of others who come to try their hand at snagging a brown trout. The stream is roughly 20 feet wide and is known to be deeper than it appears. This notoriously difficult place to fish is for experienced anglers who welcome a challenge.

The spring-fed stream has clear water and heavy watercress growth, making snagging a fish a challenge — they can see you and have plenty of places to hide. The stream is divided into three sections: the upper waters, which is the most popular locale but thanks to catch and release has the largest fish; a middle section which runs through LeTort Park and stretches into downtown Carlisle; and a third section that goes from Post Road to where the stream enters the Conodoguinet Creek. The stretch of LeTort Park that contains Marinaro’s Meadow features monuments dedicated to these fathers of fly fishery. If you need a detailed guide to catching some of the state’s most wily trout, the PA Fish and Boat Commission has one.

Pittsburgh, PA

Some of the country’s best trout fishing is found in southwestern Pennsylvania on 20,000 acres of public land. Near Steel City, savvy fishers frequent the Ohiopyle State Park, where they can access the Youghiogheny River, the park’s hub of trout fishing. Meadow Run, a picturesque stream that runs into the “Yough,” is known for its natural beauty and recreational features like natural water slides, but it’s also known as a great place to find stocked trout and even some wild rainbow trout in the deeper pools. About a mile upriver from the pools, Flat Rock is also a good place to cast your line.

Some sections of the river have rapids and are best navigated by boat (local guides can help here). Many of the best fishing spots in this area don’t have easy road access and are accessible only by hiking, but that’s all part of the experience. Many anglers come to the area simply to enjoy the scenery, and the fishing is an added prize.

This article was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

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