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Posted in Fishing Loyalhanna Creek Youth Education

Ligonier Valley Students Celebrate Spring with Fly Fishing

Youth Photo 3
LVMS students ready to hit the stream.
Youth Photo 7
Mr. Podlucky assists Bella Butler with biggest caught fish of the day!

Fourteen students from the Ligonier Valley Middle School demonstrated their fly-fishing skills on Loyalhanna Creek on Wednesday, April 10, as part of a school sanctioned field trip.  The students had just completed a six-session program from January through March learning the importance of coldwater conservation and how to tie flies and cast using a fly rod.  This program, originating with the school’s Outdoor Club many years ago, is an effort by the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited to share with the next generation their passion for fly-fishing.  But more importantly, it’s an effort to teach the students the importance of protecting our trout streams and the coldwater fisheries.

The “final exam” was putting into practice all the skills the students learned during the course from selecting the correct fly pattern, experimenting with casting techniques, mending their lines, and learning how to “read a stream”.  A few of the students had some previous fishing experience with family members while others were quite new to the sport.  While many of the students caught fish, what impressed the TU mentors the most was their perseverance and attention to detail.  

When it was time to get back on the bus, a couple of the students almost had to be threatened with detention to get them to leave the stream.  Haley Robertson had snagged her trout fly on a rock and broken it off.  While still standing in the stream, she demanded another rod with a fly already tied on it, then proceeded to catch one last trout.  And Haley may have claimed the titled for most fish “caught”…by her definition! 

As a means of explanation, the mentors also taught the students some of the finer points of the sport of fly-fishing, such as terminology.  For example, when an angler hooks a fish and fights it for 5 seconds or longer before it breaks off, that is considered a “Long Distance Release”, or LDR and counts toward the daily catch total!  In essence it’s a modified version of “catch and release” that TU promotes.  The students seemed to grasped that quickly!  Fishing is sometimes as much about story-telling as it is a sport itself! 

Mr. Ryan Podlucky, Health and Physical Education Teacher and Advisor for this program did his share of tutoring and netting fish.  After demonstrating to students how to catch a trout himself, he proceeded to help a couple of students who weren’t having as much luck.  In his words, “Today’s trip, although probably the most memorable for my students, was probably about 5% of the time that Forbes Trail TU had dedicated this year to my students.  This organization and volunteers pour their time and energy into their passion.  It is really great to see my kids outside of the normal classroom walls learning and having experiences they normally wouldn’t be able to have.  LVSD really appreciates the efforts of FTTU.”

Youth Photo 8
Rocco Harris with first trout of the day.
Youth Photo 6
Mentor Milt Claney helping Carter Bizup rig his fly rod.
Youth Photo 4
Mentor Angie Schultheis guides Parker Smith to waiting trout.
Youth Photo 2
Haley Robertson - Sometimes we catch more than fish!
Youth Photo 1
Mentor Ron Rodgers assists Cooper Hegan land his first trout of the morning.
Youth Photo 5
Mentor Larry Myers helps Alyssa Queer read the stream.
Posted in Uncategorized

FTTU Hats Now Available

We are in the process of ordering caps with the Forbes Trail TU logo embroidered on the front.  The logo will be similar to the ones on our older denim and newer polyester fishing shirts.  We have three styles to choose from.  One has a screen in the back of the cap for warmer weather.  The other two are solid cloth and very similar except one is dyed with slightly muted colors.  Some offer two-colors.  For those, the color on the right in the sample chart is for the cap beak.  All caps are $18 each.  If our order exceeds 40, they will be $16 each.  

We are planning to use the same embroidered logo on the caps that was used on the shirts.  That was a fish and lettering for “Trout Unlimited” and “Forbes Trail” in white, and then “Chapter” in green below that.  Attached is a photo of our denim shirts for a sample.

We want to hold true to the traditional TU colors of white, blue and green.  If we stick with that, and allow the embroiderer the professional discretion to choose how those 3 colors are used to make the logo stand out on any color cap, that keeps it simple and allows us the full range of colors to choose from.  

If you are interested in ordering a cap(s), please follow these instructions:

  • Email me your order at 
  • Provide the style number EC7070, AD969 or LP104
  • Provide the cap color code and number such as PMS 166
  • Caps are $18 each (no tax)
  • Make your check out to FTTU for the correct amount (Do not make checks out to me.)
  • Mail your check to Forbes Trail TU, P. O. Box 370, Youngstown, PA 15696

I must receive your order by April 23, 2024.  If your checks lag behind that date its not a problem.  I will place the order on the 24th.  Thanks.


LP 104 HAT
EC 7070 HAT
969 HAT
Shirt Logo
Posted in Events Meetings

Spring Events Rescheduled

Loyalhanna Creek High Water
Area streams have receded some since a high water mark on Wednesday April 3rd, but Loyalhanna Creek runs bank full in the DHALO section in Ligonier on April 4

Steady rain and a soaked parking area at the Nimick Center forced us to cancel the April meeting scheduled for April 3rd, and with it the “Slide Show ‘n Tell” program. We have decided to reschedule the “Slide Show ‘n Tell” for the May meeting on Wednesday, May 1 and push the swap meet/flea market to Wednesday, June 5. Both of these events will be held at the Nimick Education Center in Ligonier. Check back for details on the swap meet/flea market.

Prospects For Opening Day?
Local streams were running fast and extremely high earlier this week, but have begun to recede. Be careful wading strong currents if you venture out on opening day.

Posted in Youth Education

Happy Trails, Joe Bilotta!

Joe Accepts Gifts From Students
Joe accepts gifts from Ligonier Valley Middle School students Haley Robertson and Karson White

Friends and FTTUers bid a fond farewell to FTTU Education Chair Joe Bilotta at a dinner at the Tin Lizzy in Youngstown March 20. Joe and his wife are building and moving to a new home in Annville, PA. Upon retirement, Joe wasted no time in getting involved with FTTU and took over the Education Committee duties a few years ago. Filling the big shoes of Drew Banas, Joe hit the ground running and did an outstanding job that would make Drew proud. From classroom lessons to on-stream events, Joe scheduled activities, coordinated with the schools and made sure there were adequate volunteers, supplies and equipment on hand.

As a testament to Joe’s good work, word has gotten out and requests for FTTU educational programs keep coming in.

Fortunately, veteran FTTU volunteer and Chair of our Women’s and Diversity committee, Angela Schultheis has agreed to take over the Education job as well.

Good luck Joe, we’ll miss you!

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests for 3.30.24

RR Bridge
Rock Run Runs under Linn Run Road before flowing into Linn Run
pH Testing
Scott Minster and Denny Hess check pH meters

Spring is coming to the Laurel Highlands as the FTTU citizen scientists conducted water quality tests at the mouth of Rock Run.

pH – 7.2
Alkalinity – 3.5
Water Temperature – 41°
Air Temperature – 42°
Linn Run Gauge – 1.82′
Linn Run – 10.0 ft³/sec

Posted in Events Veterans

FTTU Presents Member’s Vietnam War Experience

Monty chatting with other vets after his program

On March 13, Monty Murty, past president of FTTU, put on a presentation covering his on-the-ground experiences as an infantry army commander in Vietnam in 1968, the deadliest year of the war.

The event, held at the Westmoreland Conservation District barn, was attended by 64 veterans and guests.

So what does this have to do with Trout Unlimited anyway?

Trout Unlimited started a “Service Partnership Program” many years ago to teach military veterans and first responders to fly fish as a means to heal the body and soul.  This has been a time-proven, effective healing technique.  Forbes Trail has held five fishing events beginning in 2018.  Veterans and first responders are invited to attend the event this fall at the Kingston Veterans Sportsmen Club, east of Latrobe, on Saturday, October 5th from 9AM to 3PM.  The event is free and fishing equipment, lunch and mentors will be provided.  Preregistration is required.  Details and registration instructions will be provided here on our web site in the spring. 

Monty accepts a proclamation honoring him from Westmoreland County Commissioner and TU member Douglas Chew
PA House Award
State Representative Eric Nelson presented an award to Monty from Rep. Leslie Rossi and himself
Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests 3.2.24

Linn Run
Linn Run flows strong, cold and clear - March 2, 2024

High flow today on Linn Run and Rock Run after heavy rains on February 29th. The Linn Run gauge bumped up again today with rain this morning.

It’s predictable, flow goes up, alkalinity goes down.

Air Temperature – 45°F
Water Temperature – 42.5°F
pH – 6.7
Alkalinity – 3.2
Linn Run Gauge Height – 2.3′
Linn Run Flow – 35.3 ft³/sec

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests for February

Water test results for February:
Water Temperature: 38° F
Air Temperature: 30° F
Linn Run Gauge: 2.08′
Linn Run Discharge: 24.2 ft³/sec
Flow: Med/High and clear
pH: 6.3
Alkalinity: 3.6

Alkalinity goes down with higher flow. This time from snow melt.

Water Collection
Ron Miller (L) and Denny Hess collect water samples near the mouth of Rock Run
Water Test Equipment
Denny Hess (L) and Scott Minster prepare to test alkalinity of Rock Run water samples.
Posted in Uncategorized

Winter Newsletter

The Winter 2024 edition of The Trails is out. Download your copy by clicking here –  The Trails Winter 2024.

Posted in Uncategorized

FTTU Honored at State Meetings

Larry's Award
Larry Myers with the Ken Sink Award. (L_R) Denny Hess, Larry Myers and Ron Rodgers.

FTTU President Larry Myers was presented with the Ken Sink Award for Outstanding Service to the State Council at the annual PA TU State Meetings held in September in Mill Hall PA.

In addition to all the endless hours of work Larry puts in on behalf of FTTU, he somehow managed to get five TU Chapters to cooperate and acquire funding for a successful relaunch of the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail.

Ron Rodgers represented us at the meetings and brought home the hardware.

Also, our newsletter, “The Trails” was again named best in the state by winning the Samuel Slaymaker Award. FTTU considers communication with members a top priority so a lot of effort is put in to each issue of “The Trails”. We also hope to inspire members to get involved with the chapter through our newsletter.

Congratulations Larry, and all who contribute to “The Trails”!