After working the Hoyes Run (South) section of the Youghiogheny, I took a quick run over to Swallow Falls to see what it had to offer. There were two other cars in the parking lot with one being loaded by a father and son in the process of leaving. They told me that they typically fished north to the falls and below, so I assumed the other car full of folks had headed in that direction as well. With that, I made the decision to fish south, away from the falls and the people; upstream.
I was there on a low water day (end of September) when the gauge height was about 6 inches below normal at the Oakland station.
I followed the well marked trail from the parking area to the river. The water looked bad. It was very shallow, only marginally flowing through the rocks by the bridge. I skipped even trying to fish here and resolved to put some distance between myself and the bridge. I headed up river and, after about 100 yards, encounted a wide, open area that looked great.
As I worked my way up and through this area, it became obvious that this was a bad spot given the river conditions. Although it was 3 – 4 feet deep here, there was no cover on the bottom – the river is basically a flat sheet of rock. While this made for very easy walking and wading, it is probably not be great fish habitat. I fished this section pretty well and only turned up some small chubbs and smallies for the effort – nothing even worth wasting digital “film” on..
After an hour of working it pretty well with a variety of lures, I concluded this was probably a “dead zone”, and moved quickly up river to see what else this section had to offer. Now, granted, this is a put and take section of the river where folks can keep up to 5 trout a day, so anyone who fishes here should not have great expectations. My experience is that put and take areas get cleaned out quickly – a real shame – but perfectly legal.
So my only hope was to find an area that was difficult to get to – discouraging those who are out of shape or who are happy fishing close to their vehicle. Fortunately, that section occurs about a mile in from the parking lot. At that point, the river changes character and becomes pocket water. There are huge boulder fields that make further movement up river both difficult and sporty. You need to be nimble to negotiate some of these rocks!
Now, remember, I was there on a low water day. The pocket water section may turn into a stretch of nice, deep pools when there is more flow. In either case, I recommend skipping the section next to the bridge and humping in to the pocket section. While I did not have time to fish very far up the pocket water section, the early portion I hit did cough up some nice (but small) trout which I released back into their pools.
After getting back to the truck, I dug out the topo map and discovered that there was a trail to the east of the river that ends up in what I am calling the pocket water section. When I go back, I’ll jump on this trail, skip the broad, flatwater section and continue the exploration of the river from where I left off.
Pressure: I did not see any other fishermen in this section. I was there late on a Saturday afternoon in late September. There were other fishermen fishing north from the bridge.
Switchfisher’s Recommendation: Worth a second visit to fully explore the pocket water section.
Getting There: From Oakland, get on Oakland-Sang Run Road north. Turn left on Swallow Falls Road and park at the lot next to the bridge.
Shot looking south into the flatwater section. From this perspective, it looks like a great fishing spot – appears wide and deep.
Chris working a pool in the flat water section
View upstream from the bridge where you hit the river. This featured dispersed, shallow pools with bowling ball sized rocks that made the initial penetration into the area difficult. Best to walk up the east side of the river if you do not follow the trail
View downstream towards the bridge and parking area. As you can see, the flow was really low and the water was shallow.
View up the river from where I turned around. As you can see, the terrain changes dramatically – boulders, tough walking, and good pockets
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore