Pine Creek Valley has a secret. You see, Pine Creek Valley is home to Slate Run, a Class A wild trout stream with over seven miles of crystal clear water to explore.
Located near the southwestern side of Tioga county, Slate Run flows downstream through the northwestern side of Lycoming County.
Slate Run is a freestone stream that is a tributary of Pine Creek.
Deep undercuts, spring seeps, and heavy tree canopy, provide for excellent fly fishing for wild brown and brook trout amidst spectacular scenery.
Fly fishing at Slate Run
Slate Run is approximately seven miles long. The headwaters are around three to eight feet wide, with a good pool to riffle ratio. The headwaters originate from the Francis and Cushman branches, with both branches carrying a small population of wild brook trout and wild brown trout.
You’re more likely to find wild brown trout in the lower section of Slate Run, but a small population of wild brown trout can be found in the upper section too. It’s best to fish for wild brown trout early in the morning or late in the day.
Once you approach Manor Falls, Slate Run begins to change. The pools get deeper and there are more cliffs. Morris Run and Manor Fork add their water not far below the Francis and Cushman branches.
Situated high above Slate Run is Slate Run Road, which runs along the course of the stream. The lower section of Slate Run, located near Pine Creek, is the most popular place on the stream to fly fish. Nearby is another popular Pennsylvania trout stream, Cedar Run, that is also worth exploring.
Slate Run can be a challenging location for fly fishermen due to the rugged terrain in Tiadaghton State Forest through which it flows. The stream holds many large pools, riffles, and runs that provide excellent trout habitat. With a large amount of coverage provided by fallen timber, Slate Run can be a bit of a workout to fish but its well worth the effort.
Slate Run Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Spots to Fish Slate Run
Slate Run has only a few access points near the road. You can access Slate Run by pulling off of Slate Run Road, and following one of the angler-made trails to reach the stream. Be prepared for a bit of a hike up and down steep inclines, as Slate Run is located in rugged mountain terrain.
The lower section of Slate Run is the best place to find wild brown trout. While you won’t require a boat, you should stay out of the water as much as possible. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes in the warm summer months.
Best Time to Fish Slate Run
You can tackle Slate Run all year round. The best trout fishing would be in mid to late spring, but if you are looking to avoid the crowds, you can take on Slate Run in pre and post season.
Your strategy and findings will change with the seasons. In the winter, it is best to go on a warmer day when the water temperature is in the mid forties.
Winter fly fishing can be dangerous though, given the rugged terrain. Trout tend can be found in the larger pools and slower runs during this time of year. Make sure that you check on the safety of the road conditions before venturing out.
Fly fishing in early spring depends entirely on melting snow and stream flow, but May is likely the best month for results. In April, you will be able to find Little Black Stoneflies, Blue Quills, and Early Brown Stoneflies.
May into early June brings the usual March brown, gray fox, sulphur, and green drakes hatches.
In late summer, low water conditions can make fly fishing difficult. Come fall the scenery is breathtaking and the brown trout are spawning.
Fly Box - What You'll Need
The healthy waters of Slate Run hold mayflies, stoneflies, and caddis. You can also get some use out of terrestrials. Here’s a list of the best flies for Slate Run.
- Blue Quill (#16-18)
- Little Black Stonefly (#16)
- Quill Gordon (#14)
- Dark Olive Caddis (#16)
- Green Caddis (#16)
- Tan Caddis (#16)
- Hendrickson (#14)
- Little Yellow Stonefly (#16)
- Gray Fox (#12)
- Sulphur (#16-18)
- Slate Drake (#12-14)
- Blue-WInged Olive (#14 -16)
- Blue Quill (#18)
- Trico (#24)
- Midge (#24-18)
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Slate Run. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 4X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Slate Run Fishing Reports
There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Slate Run fly fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.
Slate Run is regulated as Catch-and-Release - Fly Fishing Only from the confluence of the Cushman and Francis Branches downstream 7 miles to the mouth.
Pennsylvania requires all anglers 16 and older to have a standard fishing license, and a special permit for trout fishing, which can be obtained online or in most sporting goods stores in the state.
Slate Run fishing regulations are available on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Trip Planning Tips
The nearest international airport to Slate Run would be Harrisburg International Airport, with the closest domestic airport being Williamsport Regional Airport. You could also fly into any of northern Pennsylvania’s major or municipal airports, if you don’t mind a few hours of driving.There are hotels and rentals that cater to the fly fishing crowd near Slate Run, such as Hotel Manor and Cedar Inn. If you are looking for something less expensive, there are campgrounds such as Pettecote Campground that offer cabins and RV space. These campgrounds can get very crowded in season, but you might find a bargain if you wait until the weather gets colder.
Feature Image by Finetooth