TU Ladies Hook Into Fall Trout
Lady anglers from Penn’s Woods West and Forbes Trail Chapters of Trout Unlimited took advantage of the beautiful weather this past Saturday to do some fall trout fishing. The leaf colors were almost as magnificent as those on the hefty brook trout landed by Tara Easter. What made it extra special was Tara spent the day fishing with her mother, Bonnie Robinson who happens to be chair of the Membership Committee for Forbes Trail. The two TU chapters regularly partner on activities and events involving our lady members since sometimes neither chapter can round up a critical mass on its own. Through its Diversity Committees, TU works to create programs for entire families and community members who may not get many opportunities to try their hand at fly fishing. Penn’s Woods West organized this event and reach out to surrounding chapters. For once both the weather and trout cooperated!
Dozens of veterans spent Saturday relaxing, reminiscing and catching trout as part of the fourth annual Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited fishing event. This was the first time many of the veterans participated in this program. For others, it was time for reacquaintances. The purpose of the program is primarily to introduce veterans to fly fishing as a means to help heal the body and soul. But if using a fly rod is not comfortable, mentors assist the veterans using whatever fishing tackle they prefer. Some veterans have actually built their own fly rods and tied their own flies.
Navy veteran Ed Niehenke, attending his third annual event, explained “The real joy is the camaraderie of spending the day chatting with fellow vets, more so than catching fish.” But, that was offered as Ed was landing maybe his tenth fish of the day.
For retired Army First Sergeant, Cynthia Butlerperry, this was her first event and would like to see more lady veterans get involved with fishing. Cynthia enjoyed the day catching trout with her nephew, Navy veteran, Jeff Perry Jr. and friends. It had been many years since many of them had fished and they were savoring the experience.
Kingston Veterans Sportsmen Club, just east of Latrobe, was the event host and partner again this year. Keith Riffle, Club VP and President of the Veterans Committee recruited many of the veterans by visiting numerous VA medical centers, VFWs and American Legions. And he acquired food and drink donations from area merchants. A veteran himself, Keith explained, “We’re doing everything we can to make this a memorable day for the veterans! We’re going to do this up right!”
Other partners include Ken Sink Chapter Trout Unlimited, Project Healing Waters and Scout Troops 465 and 305. The Scouts, as in past events, prepared and served lunch for the crowd of over 100 veterans and volunteers. They also opened the event by posting colors and later had a flag pole dedication and flag retiring ceremony which the veterans appreciated. The new flag pole at the lake was an Eagle Scout project by Austin Painter, a Life Scout with Troop 305, and a senior at Derry Area High School.
The partner volunteers look forward to the annual event and enjoy the opportunity to, if even for just one day a year, be able to serve those who served their country. It was another successful and rewarding day on the water for all involved. Trout Unlimited salutes our veterans and thanks all of our partners and sponsors who made this all happen.
Veteran's Fishing Event Postponed
Due to an increasingly bad weather forecast calling for rain and cold temperatures on Saturday, October 1st, we have reluctantly decided to reschedule the Veteran’s Fishing Day for next Saturday, October the 8th.
All else remains the same. The event will begin at 9 am and run til 3 pm. There will be drinks, snacks and a grilled lunch served by Boy Scouts. Fishing tackle will be provided for those without their own and there will be expert mentors for those who need assistance.
Here’s hoping for nice weather and that everyone can still attend.
Youth Group Fishing Day on Loyalhanna Creek
Twelve students from Ligonier Valley Middle School’s Outdoor Club got to test their skills fly fishing on Thursday, May 12th, on Loyalhanna Creek. This was the culmination of their winter-long, fly-tying and coldwater conservation studies program. Mentors from Trout Unlimited’s (TU) local Forbes Trail Chapter worked with the students for several sessions during the winter teaching them to tie a variety of patterns of imitation flies…trout bugs. Thursday, they got to try out those patterns on the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only section of the stream in Ligonier. This was a high school sanctioned field trip to give the students stream experience with a sport they have been studying as part of their Outdoor Club.
The weather cooperated much more so than the fish unfortunately. Though most students did experience “hits” from trout over the two-hour period. Dylan A, an eighth grader actually got to yell “fish-on” while classmates and mentors cheered him on. The fish, a nice size rainbow, put up a good fight, but managed to release himself before Dylan was able to get him into the landing net. It was a pretty cool experience just the same. While TU promotes “catch and release”, we prefer it be on the angler’s terms, not that of the fish! Many of the Club students were experienced fly fishers and demonstrated their skills to the mentors. Others, while they may have fished before, were using a fly rod for the first time and welcomed instructions.
TU has worked with the Outdoor Club for many years. Mentors were excited to be able to renew their program with the learners after a two-year, pandemic hiatus. The students want to learn to tie their own flies, and to use a fly rod proficiently. “We can teach them all that. But we’re most interested in teaching them about the need to protect our coldwater streams and fisheries”, said TU mentor Bill Somogyi. “At some point, they will need to become the advocates to protect our trout waters so they and their kids will have streams like the Loyalhanna to fish.”
TU welcomes the opportunity to work with local schools and youth groups to teach coldwater conservation and fly fishing. LVMS students are fortunate that they have a premier trout stream, essentially within walking
distance of their school. They are quickly learning to be the stream’s ambassadors.
FTTU Hosts Franklin Regional Students For Loyalhanna Creek Fishing Outing
Eleven students from Franklin Regional School District (FRSD) skipped school on Thursday, March 24th, and spent the day fly-fishing on Loyalhanna Creek. Actually, they didn’t really play hooky, and the where they fished was the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) section of the stream in Ligonier, open to fishing year-round. This was a high school sanctioned fieldtrip to give the students stream experience with a sport they have been studying and practicing (on dry land) as part of their Fly Fishing Club. This is the first year for the Club and their first fieldtrip.
Nine volunteers from the local Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) mentored the students on fly casting, presentation and matching the hatch, i.e., trying to figure out what bugs the trout were eating. The mentors took the time to counsel the students on the importance of protecting our natural resources, including coldwater fisheries. They also explained the value of practicing “catch and release” and how to release a fish safely without harming it.
Environmental Science Teacher, James Passarelli, serves as the Club’s sponsor and has been teaching the students casting techniques as well as fly tying. “I thought the help your TU members gave the kids yesterday was invaluable” noted Jim. “I saw so much improvement in the kids and their casting. Your guys are helping us to build the next generation of fly fishers and stream conservationists! If I can teach them anything in the club, it is to just be outside and enjoy the water while respecting nature. Unfortunately, the weather was much more cooperative than the trout! But it doesn’t matter if we caught fish…it was still a great day!”
TU mentor Ron Rodgers, who has grandchildren in the FRSD, was pleased to see the Chapter extending its school programs to western Westmoreland County. As with other TU members, Ron enjoys teaching his favorite sport to the younger generation and explaining why it’s so important for them to be good stewards of our trout streams. Ron worked with Jordan, a senior most of the day. “Jordan worked hard on his roll cast and had it perfected by the end of the day”, noted Ron. “While he didn’t get to land a trout, he was able to enjoy the “fish on” experience at least twice.”
TU will have another opportunity in mid-April to work with the same group of students in Linn Run State Park. There the students will learn how to do water quality testing and to collect and identify “trout bugs”, an indicator of overall stream health. The event will include a number of other activities including fly tying and casting. “We want the students to enjoy fly fishing, but it’s more important to TU to teach them to be good stewards of our trout streams”, explained TU mentor Milt Claney. “We teach the complete package!” The field trip will supplement what students are being taught as part of their Fly Fishing Club program.
After over two years, we were finally able to get our third veterans fishing day in on October 2. This year, the event was held at the Kingston Club lake near Latrobe and was open to all veterans. We had beautiful fall weather, a chilly morning gave way to a sunny, warm afternoon. FTTU partnered with the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen’s Club and Project Healing Waters with Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops preparing and serving the food. Lowe’s Latrobe donated the drinks. The lake was stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout by the Kingston Club and everyone was able to get into some fish. Mentors from FTTU and Project Healing Waters were on hand to net fish and provide assistance to those who needed help fishing. FTTU also provided loaner rods and reels, bait, lures, flies and other fishing tackle. All the veterans received raffle tickets and after lunch, prizes donated by FTTU and the Kingston Club were given out to both the veterans and some scouts.
For a full report and slide show, see the Community Service Page.
After an absence due to COVID in 2020, the Military Veterans Fishing Outing is back. This year, it will be held on Saturday, October 2nd from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Kingston Veterans and Sportsmans Club in Latrobe. The event is sponsored by the Kingston Club and FTTU.
The outing is open to all active duty or veterans of the U.S. military. Participants do not need to be disabled, but 30 spots are reserved for disabled vets. The event is free but you will need to register if you would like to take part. To get registered, email us at email@example.com. You can also participate as a mentor or volunteer. For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact us at the same email address.
Fishing will be done on the club’s lake for stocked trout and panfish. No fishing license is required and all tackle will be provided by FTTU. Volunteer mentors will be on hand to provide help for the disabled and instruction to those who would like to learn to fly fish. A grilled lunch will be served by the local Boy Scout Troop.
We have held this event in 2018 and 2019 and it has been an extremely successful and fun day. See the Community Service page for a report from 2019 and a slide show. Hope to see you there!
In order to prevent opening day crowds, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has decided to open trout season early, so as of 8:00 am today, Tuesday, April 7, trout season began statewide in Pennsylvania. Size and creel limits, license requirements and normal regulations still apply. Mentored Youth Day originally scheduled for April 11 will not take place this year.
The PAF&BC will continue to stock streams this spring, but in order to prevent crowds, a stocking schedule will not be posted and the public will not be permitted to help with stocking.
Click HERE for the official announcement.
In the age of COVID-19, you may have questions concerning trout fishing for the spring of 2020. The early season opener in southeastern Pennsylvania has been canceled, but the statewide opener on April 18th and Mentored Youth Day on April 11th are still on. Streams and lakes are still being stocked but the PAF&BC asks that you do not come out to help. For the official statement from the Fish Commission, click here.