Clear Shade Creek is a beautiful freestone stream on the edge of the Allegheny Plateau in Pennsylvania. This low-gradient stream is capable of holding a decent number of trout throughout the year. The fish, scenery and ease of access makes this a fairly popular stream. Yet the natural surroundings also allow for a solitary and secluded feel along some parts of the creek.
Clear Shade Creek begins as a small stream in the Gallitzin State Forrest in Somserset County. It flows under Route 56 in Ogle Township before reentering the state forest. After exiting the state forest, Clear Shade Creek is joined by Cub Run. This adds a healthy dose of water volume. By the time the stream reaches the fly fishing only section near the town of Rockingham it has a nice steady flow.
A nice Clear Shade Creek brown trout
Most of Clear Shade Creek flows through forested areas. This helps keep the water cool year round. It wasn’t always this way. In the past the area was clear cut by logging companies. The devastation left behind is what inspired the creation of the PA state forest.
A few miles below the fly fishing special regulation section the stream joins Dark Shade Creek to form Shade Creek. Dark Shade Creek is a severely polluted stream that does not support life. Clear Shade Creek is a recovering stream that does. Insect life is somewhat limited in Clear Shade Creek, but it does support a relatively healthy population of fish that is supplemented by stocking.
Fish species in Clear Shade Creek
Rainbow trout and brown trout are the most commonly found species of fish in Clear Shade Creek. Both rainbows and browns are stocked twice each spring by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Windber Sportsmen’s Association also stocks the stream with fish from their hatchery.
A stocked Clear Shade rainbow trout
Native brook trout reproduce in two of the stream’s tributaries. The occasional brook trout can be found in Clear Shade Creek itself. Wild reproducing brown trout and holdover browns can also be found in Clear Shade Creek. The average trout of any species here is in the 9 to 12 inch range.
I haven’t seen a lot of smaller fish in the stream. Creek chubs are present in some number. Especially downstream of the fly fishing only section. I would imagine that there should be some darters here too, though I haven’t seen any.
Fishing in Clear Shade Creek
This stream offers miles of public access. The fly fishing only section gets the most attention by far. Yet other sections of the stream hold at least as many fish. All of the state forest land is obviously open to fishing. So is the land along Reservoir Road outside of Rockingham. There is some really good habitat here that doesn’t see a lot of anglers. The upper reaches are more narrow and hold fewer fish. Though this is also a good place to get away from it all. With a short hike you can get totally out of view of any remnants of civilization.
Clear Shade Creek has a more or less steady flow. The bottom is a mix of sand and rocks. Trout tend to set up in the usual places in this stream. A lot of fish will be found under the “foam line” on top of the water waiting to prey on any insects that drift through. Other fish will be found behind boulders and around logs. True to its name, this stream tends stay rather clear. The surrounding trees have a lot to do with that.
I caught this rainbow in Clear Shade Creek
I’ve fished Clear Shade Creek a few times. Each time I have caught a good number of fish. As with most places the key here is to get a natural drift. If your dead drift travels at the same speed as the current you should catch some fish. With a limited number of natural insects present the fish in Clear Shade Creek will take a chance at most anything that looks like food. Some local anglers use attractor patterns in odd colors like blue here and land a lot of fish.
I have caught fish on pheasant tail nymphs, woolly worms, woolly buggers, San Juan Worms, Custom Stoneflies, Custom Multi Nymphs, trout worms, Swiss Swing spinners and Rebel Jointed Minnows in Clear Shade Creek. When fly fishing here I use a long 4 weight. When spin fishing I use a long ultralight rod with 4 pound test. I keep the line light in Clear Shade Creek since the water is clear and the streams does get some pressure in the spring and summer.
Clear Shade Creek fishing regulations
A 1.03 mile section from the former Windber Reservoir Backwaters to a point 1.6 kilometers upstream is classified “Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only.” This section is open to fishing year round. All fishing must be done with flies on a fly rod. You cannot take any trout here.
The rest of Clear Shade Creek, with the exception of a short portion upstream of Bonnie Lane, is classified as a Stocked Trout Water. That means this stretch of the creek is closed to fishing from late February until the trout opener in April.
Fishing anywhere outside of the Fly Fishing Only section can be done with traditional angling methods using bait, lures, and flies. Outside of the FFO area, anglers are permitted to keep five trout over seven inches during regular trout season. The limit is lowered to three trout during the extended season that runs from the day after Labor Day until the third Monday in February of the following year.
To the best of my knowledge, this is accurate as of the time of writing. Of course regulations are subject to change. For current regulations be sure to check the Pennsylvania Fish Commission website.
Clear Shade Creek fishing at a glance
- Fish species present: Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, creek chub.
- Closest tackle shops: Tackle Box, Coach Ed’s Bait.
- Recommend spin fishing tackle: Ultralight rod, 2-4lb fluorocarbon line.
- Recommend fly fishing tackle: 4-5 weight rod, WF floating line, 4x fluorocarbon tippet.
- Recommend bait/lures: Rebel Jointed Minnow, Custom Stonefly, Custom Multi Nymph, Swiss Swing .
- Recommend flies: Bead Head Pheasant Tail size 12, San Juan Worm size 12, woolly worm size 12, woolly bugger size 10.
- Nearby hotels: Hampton Inn Johnstown, Grand Midway Hotel.