Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Little Juniata River
The Little Juniata River, better known as the Little J, is
one of Pennsylvania's best trout streams. It's a rather
large tributary of the Juniata River. Fly fishing the
Little Juniata River is as good as it gets in the Eastern
The upper section flows from Altoona through the
Logan Valley for about fifteen miles and is primarily a
stocked, freestone stream. It has some small
tributaries such as Bells Gap and Tipton Runs, and
one large tributary, Bald Eagle Creek. These streams
help improve the water quality near their confluence
but all things considered, the upper freestone section
is rather marginal for trout.
The upper section parallels Route #453 from Tyrone
towards Water Street. This is a busy highway and you
must access the river from pull offs along the road.
This section of the Little Juniata River varies from
deep fast water runs to more moderate flows that is
easy to wade.
The section that's gives the Little Juniata River is
reputation as a top trout stream lies downstream of
Tyrone. Its water chemistry is greatly enhanced from
the flows from several large limestone springs. This
section flows through a very scenic area referred to
as the narrows and is bordered by limestone cliffs.
The added water from the many springs not only cools
the river, it greatly increases it's aquatic insect and
crustacean population providing the perfect habitat for
large brown trout. In essence, it changes the
freestone stream into a Limestone Spring River.
This section flows through the town of Spruce Creek.
There are some rather large pools connected by
riffles. Wading is usually fairl easy but there are some
deep areas. It's by far the most popular area for
anglers to fish. Access is available from some of the
roads in Spruce Creek. There is a large section of
private property downstream of the State Route #45
The lower section of the Little J flows through Rothrock
State Forest to Petersburg. This section flows through
a gorge area that can only be accessed by foot. This
section features some large, rather deep pools that
are connected by riffles and runs.
Wading can be difficult anywhere in the Little Juniata
River due to its slick bottom from its high pH, but
especially in this section of the river. You can access
this section via a trail leading from a parking lot at the
end of Mountain Road. Wading isn't easy in some
parts of this section, so you should exercise caution.
This is the best section to fish during the hot summer.
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Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
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.
11.02/13 Customer reporting several nice
trout caught on our PF Blue-winged Olive
nymph, hook size 18. Good hatches the
first day when it was cloudy but few the
next day when it was clear.
Little Juniata River Fly Fishing Guide:
The Little J's wild brown trout grow at an
excellent rate and are able to attain a very
large size. The state of Pennsylvania also
stocks brown trout fingerlings each year.
These small trout grow fast and adapt well
enough that within a few months, one would
be hard pressed to tell the difference in the
stocked brown trout and the wild brown trout.
Certainly the trout have to learn all about the
trout food within the stream from a very young
time in their life. They can be just as selective
as the wild trout.
Like most limestone spring creeks and those
influenced by limestone water with a high pH,
most of the trout feed on the bottom. When
the brown trout get about 12 inches long, they
begin to feed on the surface far less and
depend on foods as well as the aquatic
insects. Brown trout also have a strong
tendency to feed in low light situations. The
larger brown trout stay hidden most of the
day. You have got to put your fly where they
are hiding to catch them under these
The season follows the general
Pennsylvania trout season.
Springtime is the best time for fly fishing the
Little Juniata River because of the plentiful
Summertime is okay in the middle and lower
sections of the river.
It is also far better to fish during cloudy,
heavily overcast and rainy conditions. This
isn't to say that the large brown trout won't
feed on mayfly and stonefly nymphs and
caddisfly larvae. They do. Although the
trout do take dry flies at times, you are
usually much better off in terms of catching
numbers of trout using subsurface
The larger brown trout tend to feed on
sculpin and baitfish as well as the aquatic
insects and crustaceans. By the same
token, don't think they won't lie in deeper
water on the bottom and feed on midge
larvae and emerging pupae. This is
especially true during the winter months
when they are somewhat inactive and don't
move around much looking for food.
Little Juniata Hatches and Trout
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
Little Juniata River and in all stages of life
that are applicable to fishing. If you want to
fish better, more realistic trout flies, have a
much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
Like Spruce Creek, this stream has a huge
aquatic insect population. When major
hatches occur, the brown trout almost feed
exclusively or selectively on the particular
insect that is hatching. That can be both
good and bad. If you match it correctly, you
can usually catch some nice brown trout. If
not, you can do a lot of casting and spook a
lot of trout.
During the winter, midges are about the only
game but imitations of them will catch fish
most any day of the winter. In the early
Spring, the Blue-winged Olives start
hatching around the first of April and last
past the middle of May. They will hatch a
second time starting in September and last
until about the middle of October.
Other than the BWOs, the Blue Quills and
Hendricksons are the first of the mayflies to
hatch. They both start around the first of
April. Usually the Blue Quills are the first to
hatch. Both hatches last less than a month
depending where you are fishing the stream.
Just prior to the start of these mayfly
hatches you will find the Little Black Caddis
or American Grannom caddisflies hatching.
The hatch last less than a month. The
Green Sedges start about the same time but
last through the month of June.
The Cinnamon Caddis hatch for about
two months starting around the first of
June. There are several other minor
caddisfly hatches that occur.
Slate Drakes and Sulphurs both start to
hatch about the first of May. The Slate
Drakes hatch is off and on for the next
five months or longer. The Sulphur is one
of the better hatches on Spruce Creek. It
last until about the middle of June.
The big Eastern Green Drakes will hatch
near the end of May and last about two to
three weeks. Light Cahills hatch starting
about the same time and continue for
approximately a month.
Tricos hatch starting around the first of
July and last through August. About the
time the hatch ends the White Flies start
hatching keeping some type of mayfly on
the water during the late summer and
early fall. The White Flies, called White
Drakes by some anglers, will hatch until
about the end of October.
The terrestrial season gets underway on
Spruce Creek about the middle of June.
Grasshopper and beetles are usually the
first insects you will notice but the ants get
large enough to get the trout's attention
not long after that. Another thing you
don't want to overlook is the little green
inch worms or moth larvae. They fall off
the trees lining the stream and are eaten
by the trout. Caneflies are another insect
you shouldn't ignore. They become
important in the late summer when few
hatches are occurring.
Specific imitations of what is hatching
and/or most available are much better
than generic or attractor flies on Little
Juniata Creek. You may want to carry a
few streamer flies along. They are good
when the water gets a little off color from
Fall is a great time to catch the large
Wintertime can be tough on the coldest
days but productive on warm days.
11/06/13 Our local contact reporting the
water high and cold, averaging in the mid
forties at the warmest part of the day. It is
falling but will take a day or two. No one
fishing to his knowledge.
12/30/13 A customer reported catching a
few trout each time the water levels get in
decent shape but high water and cold
weather has hampered the fly fishing
11/27/16 Updated Fishing Report
(Archive at bottom of page)
01/06/14 Customer called yesterday to
order more midges and sculpin
streamers. He caught several trout on
Saturday. Some very cold weather is on
the way and then a warming trend.
01/13/14 No reports of anyone fishing
during the past week. The stream is
currently high but the weather should
be warmer during the coming week.
01/20/14 Still not any reports of anyone
fishing. The levels are back near normal
and typical winter weather is prevailing. Let
us hear from you.
01/27/14 Customer ordering midges for the
Little Juniata but he hasn't fished lately.
02/03/14 Still no reports from anglers
catching trout but this week's weather will
be much better and the stream is flowing
near normal levels.
02/10/14 One customer ordering our PF
Brown Sculpin reporting he is catching
browns late in the day.
02/17/14 Customer ordering flies reported
he has caught some brown trout on midges.
Warmer weather and rain is in the forecast
and conditions should improve.
02/24/14 Local contact reporting several
brown trout were caught this past week
mostly on BWO nymphs.
03/03/14 Stream levels are back down. It is
cold now but will be warming up some
through the week. No reports were
received this past week.
03/10/14 Local contact reporting angler did
well this past week. There were a few trout
taken mostly on midges and BWO nymphs.
03/17/14 Stream levels are in good shape
and the weather warming near the end of
this week. No reports from anyone fishing
03/24/14 Good stream levels and warming
weather later this week should be great.
Watch for Little Brown Stoneflies to start
hatching any day now.
03/31/14 The stream is flowing high at the
current time and rain is forecast from
Wednesday through Saturday. It will be
warm most of the week.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
04/14/14 We had a huge number of orders
for the Little J this past week and some very
good reports from anglers fishing. Levels
are in great shape.
04/21/14 Two good reports of brown trout
catches came in from customers buying
more flies this past week. The stream is at a
good level and the forecast looks good for
the coming week.
04/28/14 We had several customers
ordering flies for the Little J and some of
them reported catching trout consistently
during the past week.
05/05/14 Look for some big changes in the
hatches this week as the water warms up.
Expect higher levels this coming weekend -
rain in the forecast.
05/12/14 Two customers ordering more flies
reported the fishing is excellent right now.
There's rain forecast everyday for the next
week but for now, the stream's in good
05/19/14 Lots of rain and high stream levels
have hampered the fly fishing opportunities
the past few days but the stream is falling
05/26/14 Stream levels have subsided and
the creek is in good condition. Anglers are
catching trout on a variety of hatches
including March Browns, Eastern Pale
Evening Duns, Cinnamon Caddis and
06/02/14 Stream levels are back to normal
and in great shape. Customers reporting
the fishing is good and catching trout on
several pattens. Lots of caddis, some
Green Drakes, some Eastern Pale Evening
duns and others.
06/09/14 Stream levels remain in great
shape. Lots of hatching insects and lots of
trout being caught according to two
customers ordering more flies.
06/16/14 High water levels slowed down
the catching some but the stream is back
near normal levels and anglers are
catching plenty of trout.
06/23/14 Two more good reports. One
new customer ordering flies because he
spoke with another one using our flies
and catching trout. Light Cahills and Little
Yellow Stoneflies are hatching good.
07/07/14 Water levels have been high but
back down in good shape. Two customers
reporting good catches.
07/21/14 The Little J is fishing very good.
Hatches have slowed but terrestrials are
replacing them. Three customers reporting
catching some nice browns this past week.
07/28/14 One customer ordering Slate
Drake nymphs and spinners reported
some good hatches are taking place.
08/11/14 The Little J continues to produce
well, with the hatches slowing down some
but terrestrials replacing them. Three good
reports came in this past week.
08/18/14 Slate drakes are hatching good.
So are Cream Cahills.
09/01/14 High water levels hurt the fly
fishing opportunities this past week but
they are back down near normal.
09/15/14 Good water levels and
temperature exist and plenty of trout are
being caught. Two good reports from this
09/22/14 Three good reports came in
this past week from customers fishing the
little J. Cooler weather and good stream
conditions have turned the trout on.
10/06/14 One good report from the past
week but there should have been many
more. Conditions are good and BWO's are
starting to hatch again.
10/13/14 Stream levels are still in great
shape with some rain in the forecast through
Thursday. Two good reports from last week.
10/27/14 More good reports came in this
past week from two customers fishing the
river. BWOs and sculpin were the tickets.
12/03/14 Mixed reports have come in the
last three week due to water levels and
cold temperatures. There is a warming
trend in place and excellent late fall
conditions at this time.
12/14/14 Those that think this creek last
week did well and there is decent weather
forecast for this week. Try our Perfect Fly
scuds and sowbugs.
12/22/14 Great weather and stream
conditions exist. Let us hear your reports.
12/28/14 The rain ends today and fishing
should be good for the next few days. It will
be a little colder.
01/04/15 Conditions are good right now but
snow is on the way and temps are dropping
very low for the next few days.
01/25/15 We received one good report this
past week from a customer fishing Cream
Midge larva and pupa in combination.
02/01/15 No reports from anyone fishing
last week but conditions remain fairly good
The stream is low but rain is
coming this mid week. Trout are
being caught in the stocked and
wild trout sections. You have to
stay hidden in the low water.
Blue-winged olives, and cream and
red midges are hatching.
02/15/15 We received two good reports
about a week ago. This coming week will be
one of the coldest this year. If you fish, fish
very near the springs.
02/22/15 No reports due to very cold
weather this past week.
03/01/15 Still no reports from anyone
fishing this past week but conditions will
improve this coming week.
03/08/15 The water and weather is warmer
and conditions rapidly improving. No
reports from anyone fishing, but it won't be
long before the "catching" gets good.
03/15/15 Stream levels are a little high but
falling. The water is much warmer and
fishing much better.
03/22/15 No reports from the past week.
Stream levels were high but back donw.
03/29/15 Still no reports from anyone
fishing. Conditions are good at this time.
04/05/15 Conditions are greatly improved.
BWOs, Little Black Caddis, Little Brown
stoneflies, Quill Gordons and Blue Quills
should hatch soon.
04/12/15 Great conditions continue with
plenty of trout being caught and some
hatches beginning to start.
04/19/15 Good stream levels are expected
this coming week with slightly cooler
weather. Two good reports of catches last
04/26/15 Another good report from a
customer. Plenty of hatches and
good stream levels.
05/17/15 Sorry for the lack of reports
but it wasn't because the fishing
conditions haven't been excellent. Lots
of hatches are taking place and lots of
trout are being caught.
05/23/15 Look for Sulphurs and some
East. Green Drakes and lots of other
05/31/15 Stream levels remain a little low.
Lots of hatches and some huge spinner
falls taking place.
06/07/15 Great conditions with lots of
hatches and lots of trout being caught.
06/14/15 Two good reports from the past
week from customers. Stream levels are a
little below normal and lots of hatches are
06/21/15 Blown out for now but falling
07/05/15 The stream is still high but it is
falling and less rain is forecast. Hopefully,
it will be wadable again soon.
07/12/15 The river has fell down enough
to fish with lots of hatches taking place
including Slate Drakes, light Cahills,
Sulphurs, caddis & more.
07/19/15 The river is blown out at 1720 cfs.
It will fall later this week.
08/02/15 Stream levels are good and
trout are being caught in all sections. Still
have sulphurs, lots of caddis and Little
Yellow stoneflies starting.
08/09/15 Don't forget about ants, beetles
and hoppers. They are working great.
08/16/15 We got reports of White flies or
White drakes hatching here this past week.
08/23/15 Cooler weather and good stream
levels equal good fishing opportunities.
08/30/15 The cool weather didn't last long as it
is warming back up but that has little effect on
a spring creek. The levels may run a little low.
09/06/15 Two good reports from the past
week. Lots of caddis, BWOs and Tricos. Good
09/13/15 The conditions are about as good as
they could get at this time of the year.
09/27/15 Don't forget the Great Autumn Brown
caddis. The big caddisflies are starting to
hatch. Great stream and weather conditions.
10/11/15 You couldn't ask for a better time to
catch some large brown trout. Great weather
and stream levels equal good fishing.
10/25/15 Good conditions exist right now. Some
big browns have been caught lately on our
Brown Sculpin. Great Autumn Brown sedges
are at the peak of their hatch. BWOs are
hatching again in size 20 and 16.
11/01/15 Great time to catch a big brown. They
are near spawning and taking streamers well.
BWOs are hatching. Conditions are near perfect.
11/15/15 The Little J has been high recently
but has fell back into good shape. The coming
week's weather forecast should provide a very
good opportunity to catch trout.
11/29/15 There is rain forecast from Monday
through Wednesday, but right now the stream
levels are good. midges and the Brown Sculpin
streamer are the flies you need.
12/13/15 It doesn't get any better than this at
this time of the season. Levels just below
normal and excellent weather. Lots of trout are
being caught and some are large ones. Winter
stoneflies are hatching.
Little Juniata River Fishing Report - Archive:
12/20/15 Right now stream levels are great and
the "Catch and Release" section producing
some good trout. There is rain on the way from
Monday through Wednesday, so we expect high
levels mid week. There is a short window of
opportunity. Brown sculpin streamers are
producing some big post-spawn brown trout.
01/10/15 The Little Juniata River is a little high
right now but can be fished. It is unlikely to
remain that way long due to all the rain in the
forecast. Streamers like our Brown and White
Belly Sculpin should work good with the stain in
the water and cloud cover. It has been catching
some big brown trout for our customers.
01/10/17 The river is flowing at 1570 cfs at
4.76 feet high, or blown out. It will take a few
days to clear up. There is snow forecast
through Tuesday then clearing, so it should
be back down to wading levels within three or
four days, we hope. Winter stoneflies are
hatching. Midges and the White Belly sculpin
are the other options.
01/17/16 The river still has a good way to go to
get back down to normal levels for this time of
the year. There is a little more snow and now
rain to affect it for the coming week. Of course,
melting snow can and probably will add some
stain tot he water. Winter stoneflies and midges
are the flies you need to be using.
01/24/16 The stream flows and level is down to
about normal. There is a chance of snow on
Tuesday, but otherwise clear for the next week.
The high temperature ranges from 27 to 40
degrees, which isn't that bad. You should be
able to fish about anywhere you want to.
Winter stonefly nymphs and Cream and Red
midges are the main flies you need to be using.
01/31/16 The Little J is in very good shape to
start the month of February. The stream levels
are normal and the water warming up some.
There's a couple days of rain forecast for the
first of the week but otherwise clear. Winter
stoneflies are hatching and little size 20,
BWO's could hatch.
02/07/16 The Little J is high right now but
falling. There is a couple of days of snow in the
forecast and no rain, so the levels should
continue to come on down to safe wading
levels. Midges, little winter stoneflies and scuds
are the main foods you should be imitating.
02/21/16 The stream is still flowing fast and
high and not safe to wade. There is more rain
forecast for Tuesday through Thursday. Just
keep an eye on the levels. Streamers are the
best option while the water is high. When is get
down some, I would switch to midges, winter
stonefly nymphs and scuds.
02/28/16 The river is still high and stained with
more rain in the forecast. You will just have to
watch the stream levels and fish streamers until
it gets near normal levels again.
03/06/16 The stream level is down and the water
clear. It is a little warmer with lots of midges and
little Blue-winged olives hatching. It should get
even better with some rain coming near the end
of the week.
03/13/16 The conditions are great right now, but
there is a lot of rain on the way. The levels will
be going up, so I suggest you go today or
tomorrow. Blue-winged olives are hatching big
time. Levels are fine at this time, but will be
rising. Fish the Sculpin streamers on higher
03/20/16 The upper stocked section and the
lower wild trout section, including the canyon,
are both in good shape. Blue-winged olives,
Cream and Red midges, and scuds are the main
foods you want to imitate. Our Brown Sculpin
streamer is working good in low light conditions.
03/27/16 Great conditions, good stream levels,
warmer water and several new hatches very
near starting. Blue Quills, larger BWOs, little
Brown stoneflies, little Black Caddis and Quill
Gordons. Don't wait until the last minute.
04/24/16 The stream levels are a little low but
great for wading and the dry fly fishing great.
Lots of hatches and customers are catching lots
of trout. A good forecast for the coming week.
04/24/16 The cold weather that moved in
recently is over and the water will start
warming back up again. That shut down the
new hatches of Little Black Grannom caddis
we were expecting. Stream levels are fine and
BWOs and midges are hatching. Sculpin
streamers are working goos.
05/01/16 The stream level is low right now but
should soon be on the way up. There is rain
forecast everyday this coming week. American
March Browns have begin to hatch, along with
several others. Customers are catching a lot of
trout on the dry fly.
05/08/16 Lots of new hatches taking place and
our customers are giving some good reports of
fish caught. Green sedges, Cinnamon caddis
starting, Amer. March Browns, Hend/Red Quills,
and more. Email us for the list.
05/15/16 Conditions are still very good. There is
some rain but it shouldn't adversely affect the
levels very much. Sulphurs are just starting to
hatch in the lower sections of the river.
05/22/16 Conditions are very good as I am
writing this. There is some rain forecast and the
levels may go up and down some, but all things
considered, it is probably a good thing. The
cloud cover helps and even slightly stained
water is good.
06/16/16 The stream levels are down about
normal and our customers are reporting that
good Sulphurs hatches are taking place.
06/23/16 The stream is running a little low but
that should change within a day or two. There is
rain in the forecast most days the coming week.
Lots of insects are still hatching, including little
Yellow stoneflies, three caddis species and
Sulpurs. The late afternoon egg laying caddis
and stoneflies are bring a lot of trout to the net
07/03/16 Sorry, somehow our last report went
blank or was deleted. The Little J. is in great
shape. It is a little on the low side, but providing
great wading opportunity. Lots of hatches are
underway, Sulphurs being a main one along
with lots of Little Yellow stoneflies and two
species of caddisflies.
07/10/16 The stream levels are back down low,
flowing at 89 cfs. You will need to stay low and
hidden from the trout. The trout tend to seek
the higher, oxygenated water of riffles and runs.
The water temperature is still okay. There are
still plenty of hatches taking place. Fish the
07/23/16 Low water levels exist. The water is
very clear and you have to stay hidden from
the trout. Fish the narrows and early and late in
the day for the best results. There are still
some little Yellow stoneflies and some little
Green stoneflies. Tricos have started hatching.
08/07/16 The stream level is back down a little
low but okay. Fish the narrows for the best
results. White Drakes and Tricos have begin
hatching and terrestrials are also working good.
08/14/16 The river has been high the past two
days but back down to a normal level and
clear. We received two good reports from the
past week. We recommend fishing the narrows.
09/03/16 The stream levels are in good shape
but it is currently raining and this could change.
The water is cooler thanks to cooler weather.
We still recommend the narrows. Little Yellow
stoneflies are still hatching along with
caddisflies and Tricos. Terrestrials are working
08/25/16 The river is low but the water is cool
and the trout active. You just have to stay well
hidden from the trout to catch them. We still
recommend fishing the narrow. There are some
larger BWOs starting to hatch along with
Mahogany duns. It is raining now but ending
09/07/16 Good conditions exist in all sections.
The cooler weather has the trout active and
feeding. There are some Great Autumn Brown
sedge caddis hatching as well as BWOs and
Mahogany duns. We recommend fishing the
11/13/16 I erased two reports above. We did
miss last week. The stream levels are just a little
below normal and trout are being caught in
good numbers in all sections, the upper stocked
and lower wild sections. Blue-winged olives and
midges are hatching. Sculpin streamers are
getting some large browns.
11/27/16 The stream levels are up and in
better shape and it is raining as I write this.
There is more coming at the end of the week.
Brown trout are in the pre-spawn stage and
some may be spawning. Blue-winged olives are
hatching very good.