Tenkara Trip Reports Trout & Char

Fishing with My Forefathers

Trip Report by Mike Hepner

A last-minute call goes out from the OG to Gap Tiger… “Yo, Mallard Duck is headed this way for a brookie adventure… wanna join?”

Two forefathers to the Ratskincanoe in the same place at the same time? Of course, I wouldn’t dare pass on an opportunity such as this!

The waters in our area had finally subsided to a fishable level again after what seemed like endless rain. We decided to hit up some of the most beautiful headwaters in our area. Tight fishing but the surroundings on the hike in are worth the trip alone, not to mention the enormous brookie population in this stream!

Meeting up with the two as the sun touched the tips of the trees in the forest, we caravan down the gravel lane to a dirt road that we follow even deeper into the dense canvas toward the headwaters. We finally get to our parking area where we have a pre-7 AM excitement filled greeting. A lot of name calling, and a vulgar exchange of profanity are fired back and forth from one another in an almost Civil War like battle. Today will be a good day, as we gear up and fill our packs with plenty of beer for the hike down the ridge to the headwaters.

Mike Hepner - Fishing With My Forefathers - Beer & Mushrooms

The hike to the stream carries much of the same battle as we pass patches of Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms, groves of bright green ferns, and dodge spider filled webs across the trail. Mallard Duck with a worried look on his face says to me, “this is not good,” I asked him what was up… “that first beer went down way too easy!” As the sun peaks through the tree tops and hits the forest floor for the first time this morning I look around and realize that this day was going to be epic no matter what happened!

Mike Hepner - Fishing With My Forefathers - OG Gap Tiger Mallard Duck

Laughing our way down the rest of the trail and cracking open more beer we arrive at a gorgeous headwaters stream that is begging to be fished as it weaves through the bright green canopy.  With the OG picking the spot we give him dibs on the first pool.  First cast he is onto a native, second cast, it’s landed.

Heading upstream we find the beautiful stream getting tighter and tighter. With the canopy thickening over the creek the three of us pummel the waters with bow n arrow casts for the duration of the time spent here.

Mike Hepner - Fishing With My Forefathers - Mallard Duck Bow Arrow Cast
Mallard Duck firing a beautiful bow and arrow cast landing him a large bright orange bellied brookie!

With all of us netting a good number of brookies we head downstream to hit the lower section and are greatly rewarded for the trek there, with the stream widening and opening to larger pools we get into more and more beautiful natives that can’t stay off the kebari in their sights.

Mike Hepner - Fishing With My Forefathers - Brookie Kebari

With the sun beating down from straight above us now and the temps rising we decide to call it a day and make the hike back up the ridge to our rides. It was exactly the mid-summer day we had all needed.

Periodically throughout the day I was so glad that I had collapsed my rod and just sat back to watch my bros go slay city. Picking up on tricks and techniques perfected by both to one day add to my arsenal. Pulling out from the dirt lane onto the gravel road I look back to see the OG and Mallard Duck heading the opposite direction, thinking to myself “damn, fishing with my forefathers was lit!”

Mike Hepner - Fishing With My Forefathers - Brookie Spots

With an experience like that I look forward to one day getting a chance to throw kebari and go slay city on some beers with the rest of my Ratskincanoe forefathers that I have not yet had the privilege and pleasure to meet.  Until that time… LONG LIVE THE RATSKINCANOE!!!


Mike Hepner a.k.a. “The Tenkara Kid” or “Gap Tiger”… Husband to 1, Father of 4. Die hard Penn State wrestling fan with a love for tenkara fishing, kebari tying, native brookies, Belgian beers, Pittsburgh sports, and lessons on the water or vise from OG.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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