Trip Report by John-Paul Povilaitis
We made it!
After a very long, dry and grueling winter with barely any fishing, it’s finally time to get at it! We’ve been planning this trip for months.
There was supposed to be four of us, a raucous crew, but “Wild Thing” Rickey Vaughan decided it would be best for him to stay back in his native West Virginia, and fish the many pristine drainage ditches the Mountain State has to offer.
It was up to Hepner, “Willy” and myself to carry the torch and make the trek to Slay City. We packed the truck full of the usual, PayDay candy bars, Gibbles potato chips, deer bologna, beef jerky and what would seem like to most as WAY too much cold beer. We arrived at our destination around 6pm Wednesday. Weather was nice, the river looked great. Time to set up camp and get some fishing in.
Fishing started a little slow, but around 7:30pm a small batch of mayflies started surfacing, and trout were feeding on the emergers. Our kebari were sufficient. We each caught about a dozen native brook trout in an hour. Pretty good start to the trip!
Thursday morning we woke up, had some breakfast and Hepner decided to get his daily run on. He parked his truck near the headwaters of the stream we decided to fish, jogged back down 6 miles to us, who were waiting with fishing gear and of course cold beers. Time to dance!!!
We fished the whole way up, barely taking any breaks and caught trout non stop all day. After a long trip, we drove back down to camp, super excited about how well the trip was going. Back at camp we grilled some chicken thighs, ate a ton of good food and got some much needed rest.
Friday the weather decided to slow us down, probably a good thing for the trout to take a break. It was very windy, with gusts up to 60mph! It started getting pretty chilly, we could see our breath! The cold definitely put the fish down, but we still managed to catch a few. It was nice to put the rods down, have a relaxing fire and just chill.
Saturday was the day! We slept in, let the water warm up a bit and time for the bugs to get active. We took a drive and spotted Mike from “Wooly Bugged”(an excellent small stream YouTube channel from Pennsylvania) We went to a small tributary that is known for its sizable brook trout. It was kebari and dry flies all day, with voracious trout attacking our offerings.
We head back to camp for our last night in Slay City. Hepner was still in full fish on mode, and if anyone of you have met him, you’ll know that he’s a non stop ball of energy. Dude’s wired different. Willy and I were watching him fish, probably picking on him too, when Willy looks down on the ground and says “Dude!” I knew right away what was up, the ever elusive morel mushroom!
“Cold Beer Mule” and I got into full on mushy mode, scouring the area, finding a nice size meal for our last night at camp. We cooked them in brown butter, cast iron pan paired with some ramps (wild leeks) that we had foraged for a few days. This is living. Washing down the meaty morsels with more cold beer was the perfect way to end such an amazing trip, in such an amazing place.
‘Til next time Slay City!
Brookies and Beer Crew
John-Paul Povilaitis resides in South Central Pennsylvania where he enjoys spending time with family and friends & sharing beers and stories around a campfire. If he’s not at a local spring creek, he’s probably in the woods snagging trees.
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.
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