The Slate Run Odyssey, Part 3

I left word with Jed at the Slate Run Tackle Shop. Today I’d be fishing Slate Run from the Mowry Pool up to the Two-Mile access. We agreed that six hours should give me plenty of time to fish the stretch. If I didn’t report back to Jed or Tom by 3 P.M., well, maybe I’d broken a leg somewhere in the gorge, or maybe I’d decided to abandon civilization forever.

The area had received heavy rainfall the week before, and Slate Run was flowing clear and high. I was glad to have a wading staff for support. In the morning fog, the water temperature was 52 degrees. Later in the day, under a sunny sky, the temperature  would rise only a degree or two. I decided to cast dry and wet flies alternately, a decision I would later regret. In recent weeks I’d been tying soft-hackle flies in earnest, and I was eager to try some of these old, classic patterns. They would not produce well today. I began to wish I’d brought along my fly box that contained Slate Run favorites like the beadhead Hare’s Ear and that elemental curiosity, the Green Wienie.

As I stumbled through the turbulent waters and watched the sun burn slowly through the fog, I encountered the first of many blow-downs from the June tornado. Great white pines and sycamores had fallen in a swath from north to south across the run . A flock of turkeys flushed from the welter as if the run had suddenly sprouted wings.

Away from the blow-downs I enjoyed seductive pocket water, pools, ledge undercuts, and glides. I made studious approaches to these homes of trout but, alas, the fish were being tight-lipped. Other than the lack of trout cooperation, all seemed right with the world. The air was warming up; the steep southern mountainside often kept me in the shadows.

At the Crooked Tree Hole, where the old bent hemlock tree remains much like I remembered it from years ago, I knew I was roughly half way to my goal for the day. The pool seemed less distinctive than before, but then, if a pool could think like a human, it would no doubt say the same for me. At a fire-ring beside the pool, I found unwanted remains of a camporee: a big blue bucket, a plastic chair, a tarp, an empty can of cheap commercial beer. As the designated “Stream Warden” for the Slate Run Sportsmen group, I felt obligated to arrange a clean-up of the Crooked Tree site for next spring.

I cursed at my watch when it told me the time was already 1 P.M. I’d been fishing for four hours and had climbed only one mile of the run! I was only half way to my exit at the Two-Mile Hole. I had to pick up the pace dramatically. Had to charge through the heavy water and abandon relaxation. I was hammered with a recurring thought: This stretch was a lot longer than it looked on the map! The thought seemed to be related to the one that tells the forest wanderer to “get back home before dark.” I had to be extra careful with my footing on the slippery rocks. I had to stay calm when the stream bends and the mountain flanks appeared like gateways to eternity.  

[to be continued]

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About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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2 Responses to The Slate Run Odyssey, Part 3

  1. I hate it when trout are tight lipped!! Ha… Nice read.

  2. Hi Riverdamsel, Thank you for visiting. Yeah, when they’re tight-lipped, it’s best to stay open-eyed!

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