100 Best: Little Juniata River
Location: Northcentral Pennsylvania
Type of stream: Limestone/freestone
Angling methods: Fly, spin
Species: Browns, Rainbows
Access: Easy and ample
Season: Year ‘round
Supporting Services: Tyrone, Huntingdon
Short take: Open to all for all its length
Handicapped Access: None
Closest TU Chapter: Blair County
Though wild brookies can be found in its headwaters and there’s a .75 mile delayed harvest section between from Bellwood to Fostoria, the upper river warms as its passes through the once industrial center of Tyrone. Massive limestone springs near Grier School turn the Little J into a first class trout river. These are the first of scores of springs and seeps that keep the river cool in summer and productive in winter. From the bridge at Ironville for 13.7 miles to its mouth, the river is managed for trophy trout. Any tackle can be used, but all trout must be released.
The Little Juniata may be Pennsylvania’s best wild brown trout river. In August of 2010, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission biologists electro-fished the river. Based on this sampling, they estimate that the Little J carries 2963 wild browns trout per mile, an increase of more than 300 percent over the estimate of 853 per miles from shocking of the same stretch in 1996. The river receives periodic stockings of two- to four-inch browns, but it’s estimated that only 167 per mile survive. An average Little J brown will be a 12 inch fish, and the chances of hooking one in the 13- to 15-inch range are excellent. A few stocked rainbows were found, but the population is considered insignificant.