Bald Eagles

A return to the scene of the pine – Daily Local

A return to the scene of the pine – Daily Local

Tom Tatum

At the time, I regularly enjoyed an annual Tioga County wilderness hike with a group of folks from Kennett to fish the famous Pine Creek on the opening day of trout season in Pennsylvania. I always looked forward to these trips to the Northern Tier, the ones that have happened on dozens of occasions in the past, that is until my friends’ Camp Kennett, located at the outskirts of Wellsboro, closed many years ago. After that, Pine Creek became a lost and forgotten destination for me.

Lost and forgotten, that is, until last week when I returned to the Pine grounds while attending the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association (POWA) annual conference. Although the conference was headquartered at Mansfield University in Mansfield, most of the outdoor activities offered by the event were closer to Wellsboro. I considered signing up for a spring gobbler hunt, but with word that Tom’s Co-op turkeys were rare, I opted (at the last minute) to join three other writer friends on a road trip. trout fishing on the mighty Pine Creek, courtesy of the brave folks at Pine Creek Outfitters.

Based on the shores of Pine Creek, outfitters cater to all outdoor activities including rafting, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and backpacking. They also offer guided tours and bike and boat rentals as well as shuttle services. Their main office, outdoor adventure center, and gift shop provide information, maps, books, supplies, and souvenirs.

The operations of Pine Creek Outfitters resemble those of our own Northbrook Canoe Company located along the banks of the West Branch of Brandywine Creek, directly across from our Northbrook property, but whose services are not as extensive, being limited to canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and commuting. Anyway, we signed up with Pine Creek for canoeing and hopefully some trout encounters.

To that end, we gathered at the outfitter’s headquarters on Friday morning where we were assisted by another outdoor writer, Lilace Mellin Guignard of Wellsboro who works part-time for Pine Creek Outfitters. Mellin asked us to select the properly fitted paddle (which should measure just below your chin to the ground) as well as the prerequisite life vest. Chris Espenshade, also from Wellsboro and familiar with the nuances of this waterway, had agreed to act as our guide that day. Fellow writers and POWA members Gray Berrier from Pulaski and Wade Roberston from Bradford rounded out our fishing quartet.

With two canoes strapped to the roof, Guignard pointed the van upstream until we arrived at the drop-off point about four and a half miles later. For me, the drop off location at the intersection of Route 6 and Lick Run Road evoked a nostalgic familiarity. It was precisely the same place my Kennett buddies and I had faithfully reported to the Pine on opening day for so many years so long ago. Back then, we would put on our boots and waders before walking and wading a fair distance upstream until we reached our traditional fishing hole.

There were two roadside restaurants located here just across Route 6 – the Log Cabin Inn and the Old Antlers Inn where over the years we had enjoyed many delicious meals while admiring the rich animal decor in each restaurant. Unfortunately, Guignard announced that the Old Antlers Inn had closed during the pandemic and was unlikely to reopen.

But today, instead of walking upstream, we would paddle downstream, although, as I would soon learn, hip boots would have been useful. At the launch, Espenshade and Roberston occupied one canoe, Berrier and myself the other. The plan was to drift downstream for four and a half miles until we came to the Pine Creek Outfitters campus at the edge of the shore while tying up whenever we saw a body of water that promised to hold trout . Fortune smiled on us that day in the guise of glorious sunny weather and spectacular scenery, and although the fishing was fantastic, the catch, not so much despite the fact that this stretch of creek still contained tons stocked trout.

Nevertheless, along the way, we saw a few bald eagles and quite a few ducks, mainly mergansers. A highlight came when Berrier and I noticed a merganser hen protecting her brood of tiny ducklings on the creek bank, so we paddled over to the feathered family for a closer look. As we approached, the hen suddenly rushed into the water as her seven devoted youngsters jostled closely, gliding so quickly across the stream, their tiny webbed feet churning so quickly they barely touched the surface.

Berrier, sitting in the back of the canoe, took the lion’s share of paddling which gave me a big advantage when it came to fishing. In the other dinghy, Roberston at the bow had a similar advantage while Espenshade at the stern, concentrating on his guiding role, chose to forego any angling opportunities. It was slow for the finny fare until after an hour of patiently casting and drifting my Power Bait offers, I finally broke the ice. That’s when I encountered a nice brown trout the second or third time we landed to better focus on the stretches of Espenshade Creek suspected of having trout.

This would be the only trout I would catch (and release) during our lazy four hour stay. Berrier, who spent much of the trip maneuvering the canoe, often in our attempts to adjust our casts towards a number of large palomino trout that refused to take our bait along the way, would end the morning without a trout to its active. However, at some point he latched onto something that put up such a big fight that we calculated it must have been trophy trout. But when the fish surfaced, it turned out to be not a trout, but a fierce sucker, a revelation that was more than a little disappointing for the good-natured Berrier.

But on the other end of the success spectrum, high hook honors that day would go to Wade Roberston who finished the morning with three brown trout, a speckled trout and a rainbow. Robertton’s success was a factor in his preparation and perseverance. Unlike Berrier and I, Roberston had the foresight to pack a wide variety of lures and baits, catching most trout on gold and silver Phoebe lures. The only inconvenience Roberston endured that day was when his hip boots caused major leaks the first time we disembarked to wade in the creek. That meant he would spend the rest of the day hanging out on the banks of Pine Creek.

Of course, Berrier and I didn’t have to worry about leaky boots because, unlike Robertton, we didn’t plan ahead for the likely possibility (in hindsight) that they would come in handy every time we left the canoe for a foray to Creekside. . Maybe the next time I return to the Pin stage, I will be better prepared, I hope so anyway.

For more information on Pine Creek Outfitters or to book an outdoor adventure, visit their website at or call them at 570-724-3003.

**** Tom Tatum is the outside columnist for the MediaNews group. You can reach him at [email protected]