Memorial Day Week(end) Part 2a: Tioga

Left Tionesta early for the 3 hour trip to Leonard Harrison State Park. First stop was in Wellsboro to pick up some groceries. The day was superb, but the waters were high. PA had been pounded with rain over the last few weeks which meant high streams, well-fed fish and pissed of anglers. But I was going to play the cards I was dealt.

After groceries I headed to one of my favorite spots to check out the water. Looked high, but fishable and I wadered up and hit the water. Caught a few little guys, moved a few others and was fine with that. I was back in a place I’ve come to really admire. It was a good time.

I then headed over to the park, checked in and set up camp. It was a mess. The rain had drenched the entire campsite area and it was nothing but soggy and muddy. Luckily I had my waders still on, so it helped with the process of setting up the tent and unloading the Subi.

I decided to fire up the stove and make an early dinner. Tonight’s menu was going to be Mango Habanero Chicken Soft Tacos. I went the simple route and grilled up the chicken, shredded it, and mixed with some mango salsa. I cooked up some onions, red and green peppers, and then rolled everything up in some warm tortillas. They were delicious.

Just hung out at camp relaxing a bit and eventually crashed pretty early. Up at 6 am and had a quick breakfast and headed back to my favorite spot. I was hoping the water had come down a bit, and that I’d be the only one there. Turns out I was. It was awesome.

Met a porcupine along the way. Caught a bunch of brookies. Took some photographs. Even turned over some rocks and bottled a few bug specimens to check out later. Then the rain rolled in, so I rolled out.

Headed back into Wellsboro to dry out and grab a beer. Found a new place called the Roost. Neat place. It was a mashup bar/coffee house/restaurant. Very nice folks. I had a really good sour beer from Wicked Weed Brewing called Passionfruuit Lychee Burst. I gotta find some of those around here. I had a cheesesteak and checked the weather on my phone. A severe weather alert had been issued with a tornado warning. Faaaaaaantastic. Ugh.

So I headed back towards the park with a quick stop at the Burnin’ Barrel. Grabbed some wings and a beer, then back to shelter in the tent while the rain rolled in.

And boy did it pour.

So I just read a bit and eventually dozed off to rain drops pelting the old REI Half Dome.

Breakfast the next day was pancakes and bacon. I decided to drive over to the Slate Run Tackle Shop to check it out, and pick up some floatant. I was there before the fly shop portion opened, but Tom was kind enough to turn on the lights and get things rolling. We chatted for a bit and he gave me some directions to a nice brookie stream to try since everything else was pretty much blown out. He’s a very cool guy who has been running the shop for 45 years.

I headed out with directions in hand and found the spot. I geared up and hit the first pool. I was greeted by a snake so moved on further upstream. I spotted a cool run, so waved my fly rod in the bushes where I had planned to enter. Of course, another snake poked his head out. I didn’t stick around to see what type it was, but I’m assuming it was a rattlesnake.

I walked a bit further and found a great spot to cast a big stimmy. Sure enough, I did. A big (probably the biggest brook trout I’ve ever caught) nailed it and broke off my 7x tippet clean. Wow! It was awesome. I vowed to stop back before I left for the day to try again.

So, I walked back down the road to find a new spot to enter the stream — hopefully clear of snakes. As I scoped the water, I saw a few nice stretches of riffles, pocket water and a few plunge pools. Looked good to me, so I entered the stream. No snakes. Cool.

As I worked the spots, I caught numerous, hungry brookies. Even threw in a few successful bow and arrow casts with success. The air was crisp as the sun peeked out. It was more beautiful than I can even start to describe. I’ll definitely put this spot on my list for next year. So fun.

I finished up and drove back to the fly shop to thank Tom. We chatted a bit more and it turned out one of his guides actually helps out with a buddy of mine’s Chile fly fishing outfit (Lance Wilt). It really is a small world. I bought a sweet Orvis hat and gave Tom a Drifters Sticker as a gift. I showed him my blog and let him know he’d be mentioned in it when I got back. So, Tom, if you are reading this — very nice to meet you and I thank you for the information.

Then it was time to head back toward the park. More to come. ~Drifter07