It had been one of the wettest springs and late-summer seasons on record. My goal of hiking and fishing Slate Run, from its mouth at Pine Creek to its headwaters in Apple Tree Hollow, had been thwarted all year long by heavy water conditions, or by low-water levels during the hot and droughty weeks of summer.
Slate Run is a well-known wild trout stream feeding the Pine Creek Valley, south of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania and northwest of Williamsport, PA. The Slate Run Sportsmen, a group of outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to the preservation of Slate Run as a fly-fishing-only destination, had been hearing reports of mysteriously low numbers of trout for several years. As a member of the group, I decided to get a first-hand account of trout conditions on the stream while awaiting the PA Fish and Boat Commission to do another electro-survey of the fish in Slate Run. My plan was to fly fish its entire eleven-mile length in one season (or year) of attempts.
I had fished all or most of the run during a span of three decades, but I seldom had the chance to fish it more than several times a year. The stream is about a two-hour drive south of where I live in New York State, and since there’s plenty of tempting trout water between my home and Slate, it’s not the easiest place to get to. Despite my numerous visits over the years, I didn’t feel as though I knew the stream well enough. If I could fish it all in one season, however, I might get a handle on the health of its trout population, and hopefully develop a new portrait of the stream—Slate Run endowed with natural splendor—in a view I’d never had before.
My Slate Run odyssey finally got its start in mid-September.
[to be continued]