The Little Juniata River, Central PA
The Little Juniata River is a fanastic wild trout stream located in central Pennsylvania. It fishes 12 months of the year with great surface and sub-surface activity. The hatches can be thick with fish rising 360 degrees around you. The J is one of the best nymphing rivers around.
The river is a place with many changes along its way. It beings in Juniata, PA as a trickle. Multiple cold water sources get the river moving as it meanders through wooded and farmland areas. A large spring nearly doubles its flow a ways downstream. It meets up with Bald Eagle Creek in Tyrone and flows south towards Ironville. This is where the limestone springs begin to really take hold and change the river into a wild trout mecca. It continues on through Birmingham and Pemberton on its way to Spruce Creek. Spruce Creek cools the river down a bit as it heads into the gorge. It become visible from the road again as it enters the village of Baree. In a little less than two miles, the river enters the Juniata River in Petersburg.
The area from Ironville to Petersburg is 13.7 miles long and is catch and release only. A 2010 electroshock survey done by the PA fish and boat commission revealed this section of river has approximately 3,000 wild trout per square mile. The overwhelming majority of the trout are brown with a few rainbows mixed in. I have caught a few rainbow trout with parr markings which may indicate the rainbows are reproducing successfully.
The Little J's history cannot be fully understood without an explanation of its historical pollution problems. In the 1960's, the river was polluted from upstream municipal & industrial practices. Laws requiring businesses to clean up their act returned the river to an environment where the trout can thrive. A pollution in the mid 1990's killed much of the bug life again and of course taking the trout with it. The source of this pollution has still not been determined. Limestone streams have a way of speeding up the recovery process and the Little J is no exception.
In general terms, the J fishes best around the 300 cubic feet per second mark. One of the wonderful features of this river is its diversity in terms of fishable water in changing conditions. Some places fish best at 250 cfs while others at 500. 500 cfs and good dry fly action? Certainly! Other places we would not dare step into the river at those flows. Location is everything.
The USGS site is where to find current conditions.
See below or click here for full data.