DISABLED VETERANS OUTING
Fly Fishing to Heal the Body and Soul
Note: The 2020 Veterans Fishing Event was scheduled for May 2, 2020 but was canceled due to the COVID 19 outbreak. The 2021 event is tentatively scheduled for May 1. The following is a report from the 2019 event.
Trout season recently opened here in Pennsylvania. Saturday, May 11, 2019, nearly 50 military veterans from southwestern PA got to test their fly fishing skills at Foggy Mountain Lodge Lake. Everyone was kept busy throughout the day catching bass, pan fish and stocked rainbow trout. Many of the veterans, some in wheelchairs, had built their own fly rods and tied their own flies. Some had not fished for a long time. Others had never tried using a fly rod. All of the veterans said it was a day they’ll not soon forget.
Leonard Dulik, 31st District Commander for the American Legion, noted, “When I learned of all the good work Trout Unlimited was doing with veterans and children, I knew this was the program for me. I joined that night! Since that day, three weeks ago, I’ve participated in a stream clean-up and today’s veterans’ fishing event. What an outstanding and fun event it was.”
This second annual event was sponsored by Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (FTTU), and funded with a grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. FTTU partnered with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc., Foggy Mountain Lodge and Boy Scout Troop 465 again this year. The event was designed to introduce veterans, particularly those with physical disabilities and/or suffering from PTSD, the sport of fly fishing as a means of relaxation and healing. Expert mentors from FTTU provided one-on-one instructions and support. Trout Unlimited and Project Healing Waters (PHW) has had extensive experience and success across the country teaching fly fishing and related activities to disabled veterans as part of their rehabilitation process. It works!
Trout Unlimited member, Michele Yocabet, used her “Give Back Day”, paid by her employer, to come and work with the veterans. “I really enjoyed fly fishing with the veterans and listening to the numerous stories they had to tell.” She and her husband can’t wait for the next veterans’ fishing event.
The event was held at Foggy Mountain Lodge, 117 Foggy Mountain Lane, Stahlstown, PA 15687 from 9 AM to 3 PM on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Owners Jim and Karen Dunn enjoyed the first event in 2018 so much they invited everyone back this year. Having many military veterans in their own families, they welcomed the opportunity to serve as hosts. With the generous grant for Dominion Resources Charitable Foundation, FTTU was able to stock the lake with trout, purchase fly fishing equipment, and provide a cooked lunch for a crowd of over 85. The event was free to all participants.
Boy Scout Troop 465 from Greensburg presented an opening ceremony, prepared and served lunch, and assisted the veterans as needed. FTTU President, Larry Myers, and Waterways Conservation Office, Matt Kauffman, presented the Troop with a community service award. After their work was complete, the scouts received fly fishing instructions and caught fish as well.
Dominion Energy Transmission Inc. provides natural gas to customers in six states, including Pennsylvania, and is the natural gas transmission and storage unit of Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, Va. Through its Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, as well as EnergyShare and other programs, Dominion Energy contributed nearly $35 million in 2018 to community causes. The Foundation supports nonprofit causes that meet basic human needs, protect the environment, promote education, and encourage community vitality. Please visit www.DominionEnergy.com to learn more.
2019 FTTU VETS DAY SLIDESHOW
The FTTU Youth Conservation & Fly Fishing Program
From 2005 through 2016, FTTU conducted our youth program at the Loyalhanna Creek Watershed Association headquarters in Ligonier. Under the direction of Drew Banas, the course ran from January through March and included instruction in fly tying, trout behavior, stream ecology, knots and fly casting. We also had fishing trips to local streams, macroinvertebrate kick net studies and electro-fishing surveys on local waters. FTTU members acted as mentors for the kids. We had more than 150 kids go through the program.
In 2018, the youth group returned as a part of teacher Ryan Podlucky’s Outdoor Club at Ligonier Middle School. The new program follows essentially the same cirriculum as the original. FTTU members are the instructors and Drew is back as the director. There were 17 kids that completed the course in 2018.
The youth group is only open to kids who sign up for the Outdoor Club at Ligonier Middle School. FTTU no longer recruits or signs up members.
Youth Group, Ligonier Valley Middle School
FTTU Mentors Teach Fly Tying, January 2019
RUSS MASON MEMORIAL LIBRARY
One of the many great things about trout fishing, conservation, and the outdoors is the wealth of books and literature available on the subjects. From Dame Juliana Berners’ “Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle” to present day works by authors like George Daniel and Charlie Craven there must be thousands of titles on “How To”, “Where to” and even “Why”. Our friend and colleague in conservation, and avid reader, Russ Mason was one who appreciated these resources and with that, FTTU is pleased to announce the opening of the Russ Mason Memorial Library located at the Nimick Family Education Center in Ligonier. The library is made up primarily of books from Russ’ personal collection. Russ passed away in 2016 and the books were generously donated by his brother Dave Mason. Supplementing the collection are additional titles from the collection of longtime FTTU member Bill Meidel of Latrobe who also passed away in 2016.
The library was the idea of Russ’ friend and fishing companion Hank Balles who handmade the beautiful bookcase which houses the collection.
The bookcase is situated near the entrance of the Nimick Family Education Center located in the refurbished barn near the Loyalhanna Creek Watershed office in Ligonier. Thanks to Hank for donating his time, skills and materials for the bookcase.
The library is made up of over 150 books covering travel, conservation, entomology, fly tying, fly fishing, tackle craft and rod building, and stories and literature on trout fishing and the outdoor life. Many of the books are classics and hard to find titles. Authors are among the most famous and well read writers in the genre including Schwiebert, Gingrich, Marinaro, Geirach, Sparse Grey Hackle and more. There’s also a lot of local info on PA streams and hatch information. You can see a full list of titles here. Library Catalog
Check out the Russ Mason Memorial Library by coming to any FTTU meeting at the Nimick Center. You do not have to be a member to withdraw a book, just fill out the sign-out sheet and bring the book back in a couple of weeks. If you have any surplus books in your collection that will fit into the library’s theme, you may donate them.
FTTU would like to thank Susan Huba and the Loyalhanna Watershed Association for allowing space for the library and our monthly meetings.