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FLY FISHING THE LACKAWANNA RIVER IN PENNSYLVANIA

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The Lackawanna River, in Northeast Pennsylvania, has been an ongoing restoration project and anglers have been awed by its success. A few years ago, the river was noted as a toxic mess. Like the Housatonic River in Connecticut, with the improvement of sewage treatment, the numbers of fish and entomology have returned in great numbers. Wild browns are found throughout most of the river, and quality-sized fish in the 13- to 15-inch range are caught quite often. Larger fish also are here, with more and more stories of browns in the 18-inch class heard each year.

The Lackawanna begins at Stillwater Lake as a top-water release and follows Route 171 from the Dam to the town of Forest City. This section of river is filled with many nice pockets, riffles, and pools, which provide oxygen and cover that enable trout to hide. However, as a top-water release dam, the upper Lackawanna's water temperatures get somewhat warm during the summer months. That's why it's a good idea to look for deeper pools in the upper stretch during the summer, or head downstream below the spot one of the old coal mines dumps in. Water temperatures around these coal mine discharges are very cold and provide relief for the trout in the lower sections of river during the summer.

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From Forest City, Route 171 migrates away from the Lackawanna until it reaches the town of Simpson. At Simpson, the water is cooled by the first coal mine drainage. Water temperatures below this outflow are very favorable to the trout. Holdover stocked trout and wild browns are in very good numbers throughout this stretch. The river is narrow here and offers some nice areas of fast-moving pockets and riffles before it heads into the town of Carbondale. Carbondale is one of the larger towns along the Lackawanna.
Lackawanna River Hatch Chart
Here, the river runs through high, cement walls with surrounding buildings. You'll find places to park and can climb down into the river. Fishing is good here, but most people venture below the town where it's a little more scenic.

Approximately five miles below Carbondale, the special regulations area begins in Archbold and offers some of the finer wild brown trout fishing. These 5.2 miles of Trophy Trout Projects water extend from Gilmartin Street Bridge in Archbold downstream to Lackawanna Avenue Bridge (S.R. 0347) in Olyphant, and hold substantial numbers of wild browns. Excepted is a mid-section area extending .7 miles from Depot Street Bridge in Jessup, downstream to the foot bridge in Robert Mellow Park. The Trophy Trout Projects area is the largest section of noted trout water on the river, and is approximately 50-70 feet across throughout most of this stretch. This area offers some beautiful pools, followed by long runs and riffles. Although this is a dedicated Trophy area, be sure to take a water temperature reading during the summer, because at times it can reach a little more than 70 degrees. Below Oxyphant, the river is overtaken by acidic and warm water. Fishing below here may not be worth the hassle, although there are some fish to be had.

Hatches on the Lackawanna are not as strong as they are on some of the other rivers throughout the State. However, there are still good numbers of bugs among which the Sulphurs are most notable. Blue Quills, Hendricksons, March Browns, and Green Drakes are some of the other hatches found on the river. Midges and Terrestrials also can work well when Mayflies are sparse. Throughout the year, nymph fishing in the riffles and runs also can be very productive. Check with a local fly shop to select the flies you'll need for your trip to the Lackawanna in Northeastern Pennsylvania.