Trip Report:Little Juniata River, Huntingdon County, PA – July 5, 2009

Well, it has taken me a little while to get this trip report posted. Sorry folks – but I have a good reason. My camera took a little swim in the Little Juniata. I guess I should call it my ex-camera. I let it dry out for several days – no luck. I tried the alcohol soak trick – no luck. It is dead. I was able to get the pics off of the card – but I had to get a card reader, which I finally got around to.

It was a warm and sunny day (too sunny for me). We started off the day above the town of Spruce Creek, fishing several different areas. For hours we pounded the deep runs along the shady bank – no fish, no bites, no flashes, nothing. I was beginning to think that I missed the news of a massive fish kill. Surely it wasn’t my lack of skill.

There were very small light gray mayflies (size 20-ish), hatching sporadically all day, never in large numbers, but fairly consistently. I didn’t get a picture, but I did get a good look: Light gray body, light gray wing (no veins or speckles). I could not identify these bugs. If anybody has any guess as to the identification please leave a comment.

Little Juniata Riffle

Little Juniata Riffle

We fished this nice riffle, deep run combo for a bit. It just looks fishy doesn’t it? This riffle, led into the deep run along the rocky, shady, bank. I couldn’t have designed a nicer looking section of stream.

Deep Run on the Little Juniata

Deep Run on the Little Juniata

More of the Deep Run

More of the Deep Run

It looked perfect but I couldn’t find the fish. I carefully fished stealthily up through the run and into the riffle, casting on a grid – covering the water systematically. Surely I’d come up with some fish. After a fishless 45-minutes or so, I grew a little impatient and waded across the riffle just to investigate and FISH! I finally found the fish. The fish were up in a shallow side-riffle ranging from about 5-inches to 18-inches deep. They were going crazy! Zipping around, backs out of the water – how did I miss them? I assume they were feeding on emergers of the little gray mayflies (I can’t say for sure).
I managed to hook up with a nice rainbow (18″ or so), but then managed to loose it. It hit a size 18, rusty compara-emerger. I never did manage another fish hook-up out of that riffle. But it left me wondering how many times I’ve passed fish by like this. I could have very easily missed these rising fish all together.

I finally found the fish

I finally found the fish

After managing to put these fish down for good – we moved on. This time we decided to head into the “gorge” section between Spruce Creek and Barree. We hiked into the gorge about 1.5 miles or so. What a beautiful setting! The river sits at the bottom of a dramatic canyon – with steep ridges rising about 1200 feet above the valley floor. It feels very remote – and if it weren’t for all the fly-fishers it would be very lonely in there. Aside from the train tracks and bridges – you don’t see any sign of civilization.

The Gorge on the Little J

The Gorge on the Little J

Another view of the Gorge

Another view of the Gorge

For a sense of perspective – look at those little black dots in that picture above, those are fisherman. That hill rises up about 1200-ft almost straight up. Maybe not much much by western standards, but it still feels impressive (and looming) when you’re in there. The topo-map from GoogleMaps illustrates the terrain nicely. The picture of the gorge, just above, was taken looking upstream from just below that wide spot in the river (near the 800′ elevation mark).


View Larger Map

Not only is the setting beautiful but I finally caught a few fish. I caught two browns, one about 8″ and one maybe 13″ or so. They were both caught on a size 10, green caddis larva (with an orange “hot-spot”). We couldn’t stay long in the gorge though – we had a long walk out of there and the Diner 22 hot roast-beef sandwich with fries (and pie for desert) was calling. Diner 22 is located on Rt. 22 neat Alexandria PA. The Little J. did not give up her fish easily on this day – but the stream and the setting (especially in the gorge) are just beautiful.

A nice brownie from the Little J.

A nice brownie from the Little J.

1 Comment on Trip Report:Little Juniata River, Huntingdon County, PA – July 5, 2009

  1. I believe the bugs you could not identify were the summer blue quills on the LIL J.

what say you?