Copyright 2018 James Marsh
Clarion River Brown Trout
Fly Fishing The Clarion River
Several years ago, Willamette Industries purchased a
paper plant that was adding residue and warm water
discharges into the Clarion River. Acid mine runoff also
plagued the stream. The new owners took action to
clean up the river and with the help of many other
organizations, the Clarion River is now a quality trout
stream. The East and West Branches of the Clarion
River join together to form the main stem at the little
town of Johnsonburg. That's also the location of the
paper plant.

The East Branch of the Clarion River is a bottom
discharged tailwater that maintains a cool flow of water
throughout the Summer. The dam is located six miles
upstream from the junction of the West Branch. There's
a mile and a half long Delayed Harvest Section below
the East Branch Dam. Fly fishing the Clarion River is
good year-round in the East Branch.

The West Branch of the Clarion River is a freestone
stream. It begins above Wilcox and flows about six miles
to Johnsonburg. The stream flows through a valley and
warms early in the Summer. State Route 219 follows
along the stream the entire distance below Wilcox. At
the community of Tambine, there's a no wading, catch
and release, fly fishing only section on the West Branch.
Many dislike the no wading rule but it does at least offer
some protection for the trout. The fame of the West
Branch is its Green Drake hatch. Both the East and
West Branches are stocked by the Willamette Fish and
Game Club.

The main stem of the Clarion River has an eight mile
stretch of water from Johnsonburg  to Ridgeway that's
classified by the state as All Tackle Trophy Water. It
averages about sixty to eighty feet in width with a typical
pool, riffle run configuration. There's private property
along this section but it's legal to fish the entire stretch
provided you stay within the stream's high water mark.

The season follows the standard Pennsylvania trout
Springtime is a good time for fly fishing the Clarion River
due to its plentiful aquatic insect hatches.
Fly fishing usually slows down some during the Summer
in the main stem and West Branch but the East Branch
stays cool during the hot Summer.
Fall is the best time to catch a larger holdover or wild
brown trout because of the spawn.
The East Branch provides very good fishing during the
cold Winter months due to the warmer tailwater of the
East Branch Dam.
Type of Stream
Freestone Stream & Tailwater

Brown Trout (Stocked with Holdovers
and some wild)
Rainbow Trout (Stocked)
Brook Trout (Native)


Western Central Pennsylvania

Nearest Town

First Saturday of April through

Varies from good to poor

Non-Resident License
State of Pennsylvania

National Weather Service Link

UGGS Real Time Stream Flow
USGS Real Time Stream

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies
Clarion River
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Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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