West Branch Susquehanna River Stream Report
Once left for dead, West Branch Susquehanna River has made a remarkable recovery. Downstream of the Curwensville Dam, West Branch is known as a primarily warm water fishery. Upstream, however, is wild brown trout country. However, that doesn't mean that every section of the river is created equal. Some sections have better habitat than others, and they're often separated by long stretches of poor habitat and few fish. But find the good habitat with a clean, rocky bottom, and you'll find some amazing trout.
A little over 26 miles of West Branch, from the outflow of the AMD treatment plant near Watkins downstream to the confluence with Cush Creek near Dowler Junction, is classified as All-Tackle Catch and Release.
The two main challenges of fishing West Branch are 1) its size, which makes it a great river for a float trip and 2) the long stretches of unproductive water. However, most of the river upstream of Cherry Tree is easily wadable. Finding the most productive water, though, is really all about taking a hike or float trip and exploring the river. There are some truly large wild browns throughout the river, but you do have to work to find them.
West Branch Susquehanna River has sparse fly hatches, and most of them are localized around and downstream of confluences with clean tributaries.
Little Black Stoneflies
Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Hendricksons, Spotted Sedge
Olive Caddis, Gray Fox, March Browns, Green Drakes (spotty), Sulphurs, Light Cahills
Slate Drake, Caenis, White Mayfly
Here is an excellent presentation on the reclamation of West Branch Susquehanna River that includes before and after photos of the river: "Addition of the Upper West Branch Susquehanna River to Section 65.15 (Catch and Release All-Tackle Regulations)."
Fly Fishing in the Heart of PA's Coal Country is available as a digital download.