Clarion River Stream Report
The Clarion River forms in Johnsonburg where West Branch Clarion River and East Branch Clarion River meet. From Johnsonsburg downstream to Ridgway, the Clarion River is designated as All-Tackle Catch and Release.
Clarion River was named “River of the Year” in 2019, a major accomplishment for a river that was so polluted it was once considered dead water. Now, this river is more than a fly fishing destination; it’s an attraction for paddlers and water enthusiasts of all types, which doesn’t always favor fishermen. Clarion River is a wild brown trout fishery, supported by fingerling stockings every summer by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. During peak times of outdoor recreation on the river, those fish can get mighty skittish, and you can have some very tough days on the water. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the best time to fish here is early morning and late evening.
When the Clarion River was first emerging as a prime fishery, it was easy to catch multiple brown trout over 20 inches. It’s not like that anymore. In fact, those fish are getting harder to catch every year as boat traffic increases and fishing pressure skyrockets. However, it’s still a beautiful river, and it’s big water, especially once you get below Ridgway. But if you want to consistently catch big browns, you have to be more tactful with your presentation than in years past.
Many of Clarion River’s hatches are spotty and localized around and downstream of clean tributaries. However, it does have some good ones.
Sulphurs, Yellow Sallies, various caddis
Because the Clarion River grows substantially throughout its course, it’s best to check the USGS gauge closest to your destination before planning the excursion.