Little Juniata River, located in the Southern region of Central Pennsylvania, is a river that's making a comeback with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and environmental awareness. Throughout the 1960s, raw sewage and pollutants from local mills ran into the Little Juniata from towns above. Cleanup started in the early '70s and today, the Little Juniata is a large river with large deep pools, moderate water, and prolific hatches supporting the thousands of fingerlings stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission each year. This river is one of the finest in the State of Pennsylvania, running through two counties (Blair and Huntington).
Above Tyrone, the Little Juniata is a marginal stream that is supported by only a few water sources. Once the river passes through Tyrone, it runs through limestone cliffs, making it a true limestone river. It continues south and when it reaches the village of Spruce Creek it picks up numerous, different sized, limestone springs that help keep its water temperatures down during the hot summer months. The PFBC has designated 13.5 miles of the river as an All Tackle Catch and Release area. This area is from the railroad bridge at the east (downstream) border of Ironville downstream to the mouth.
In the village of Spruce Creek, you can gain access to the river via paved roads that run along it. For about a mile downstream from the R 45 Bridge at Spruce Creek, both sides of the Little Juniata are posted against trespassing. Just after this area, the Little Juniata flows through Rothrock State Forest (Barree Gorge) and only is accessible by walking trails.
This area of river has many deep pools, riffles and prolific hatches. Casting and wading in this area can be extremely difficult. Be careful, as some of these deep pools run right along the bank.
Below the Gorge to SR 305 near Petersburg, the river can be accessed from paved roads once again. Just below where SR 305 crosses, the Little Juniata merges with the Frankstown Branch to form the Juniata River. This section of river has many deep pools and fast-moving water that can be very dangerous. In addition, you can easily trip on the boulders that lie beneath the water surface. Be sure to bring along a wading stick for additional safety.
Overall, the Little Juniata produces good hatches, and they are getting better each year. Water temperatures can reach the low to mid '70s during summer's peak heating. The majority of the fish are brown trout, and keep in mind that only fingerlings are stocked. The fish take on the similarities of wild trout very quickly, and you'll find many truly wild river-bred fish around, especially from Spruce Creek to the mouth. Visit a local fly shop to gain a better understanding of the hatches you'll find on the Little Juniata River at any particular time.
Since the Little Juniata is making a comeback, isn't it time you came back to fish this river in the Southern region of Central Pennsylvania?
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