100 Best: Slate Run
Location: Northcentral Pennsylvania
Type of stream: Freestone
Angling methods: Fly
Species: Brown, brook trout
Access: Not easy
Supporting Services: Slate Run
Short take: Perhaps the best wild trout fishery in the Keystone State
Handicapped Access: None
Closest Chapter: Lock Haven
From the confluence of Francis and Cushman Branches down seven miles to its junction with Pine Creek, Slate Run is classified a Heritage Trout Area by the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission. So too are the 1.7 miles of Francis Branch upstream of where Cushman comes in down to Kramer Hollow. Only catch and release fly fishing using conventional gear is permitted. Leaders can be no longer than 18 feet and flies must be made from materials wound around a single hook.
The first two miles upstream from the whistle stop village of Slate Run follow a narrow valley of pools, pocket water, and a few riffles. An angler’s trail leads along the east bank, but primary access comes from this logging road. The valley steepens and narrows where Manor Fork joins Slate Run from the west. The road goes up Manor Fork for a bit to its intersection with Francis Road. Above that junction, the road climbs high above the stream. At places the road is 100 feet above the water and views are stunning. But don’t worry about scrambling down the mountainside only to have to risk a coronary when you climb back up. A spur of Francis Road will take you back town to the stream and there’s parking close the water where the road ends at Big Dam Hollow.
The valley is underlain by horizontal beds of rock. Over the ages the harder rock which is more resistant to weathering has created ledges while the rock underneath has eroded and created pools that hold fish. Fish every pocket. You never know which holds a brown of 18 to 20 inches. More and better fish are taken from pockets than big pools.