1. Cedar Run
After the summer meeting of the Slate Run Sportsmen, I acknowledged that time was too short to fish another stretch of Slate, so I opted to stop along the more accessible but just as beautiful Cedar Run. Leighanne, Aaron and I stopped at the Mine Hole tributary to Cedar. As I suited up for an hour or two of fishing, I suggested to the others that they walk a short distance to the waterfall on Mine Hole, and that’s what they did as I strolled down Cedar for a ways and fished my way back up.
The well-known Cedar offered enjoyable pocket water and enticing pools beneath an overcast sky. Caddis flies and Slate Drake mayflies hatched sporadically but for some reason or another trout activity was minimal. Fishing like a fool who knew his time was limited and precious, I worked a Slate Drake dry fly and caught but a single brown (and missed a second one). After an absence of several years, I was glad to hit this classic freestone water again, even though my performance there was less than stellar.
2. Prouty Run
Next day I was on the headwaters of the First Fork Sinnemahoning in Potter County, Pennsylvania. The stream I was on is called Prouty Run, an area with a primitive state campground, no services provided, just right for a flyfishing obsessive like myself. I hadn’t been here in 15 years or so, and despite the fact that a double murder had been committed here a couple summers back, the place didn’t seem much different than it had on my previous visit.
Prouty averages about 20 feet wide here, a good flow for a little trout stream, and it was loaded with fish, wild brooks and browns and even some rainbow trout. For a while it was brook trout only, eager and colorful, and then the rainbows appeared. Prouty is managed for wild trout but it’s stocked downstream where, technically, it’s known far and wide as the First Fork Sinnemahoning. I figured the rainbows had originally swum up from the stocked waters or had escaped from a nearby private hatchery. But the rainbows weren’t my primary interest here, other than the fact that, like the wild browns, they compete with native brooks.
The browns were interesting– small young-of-the-year fish, plus a dandy 11-incher with striking color. The water temperature on this very hot, late spring day was 60 degrees F., just right for the 13 fish caught in less than two hours.
3. West Branch Genesee
So a few days later I hit the home water, the West Branch Genesee near Genesee, Pennsylvania, and I was mad for it. Mad for the acme of the flyfishing season, the full frenzy of the insect hatches, the peak of the sport, at least in my opinion. If I could stop the flow of time, if I could take friends and family with me into the flyfishing world of mid-May to mid-June and never leave it (as if this was Heaven itself), I’d gladly step off the wheel of days and months and years and never leave. That’s how crazy I am for the season when I’m in it. At another time and place I’d probably feel different and see them as the Happy Fishing Waters, but now it was evening on the West Branch and I was loaded for trout.
The stream was in great condition, a little cloudy from the heavy rainfall of a day ago, with the water temperature excellent for dry fly angling. Mayflies copied by a Light Cahill #12 began to hatch, and the trout were hungry. I waded upstream slowly, casually, and picked up trout after trout. The end result wasn’t my best dry fly outing ever, but it was one of the best so far this year, and probably my finest hour on the West Branch in 25 years of fishing it. The population of wild trout seemed to be at a peak for the river. I tallied eight wild brookies (average size seven inches), 10 wild browns (mostly small), a stocked brown, and four stocked rainbows (the largest 14 inches). Not bad for a little headwater stream near the PA/NY border. Not bad for an old guy stumbling out of the woods at dusk with birdsong in his ears.