Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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
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
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.
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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. Call or email us with a budget for
flies and we will select them and get
them to you in time for your trip.
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over $50 are shipped Priority Mail.
Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing:
71/2 ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Clarion River Fly Fishing Report: