Posted in Fishing Youth Education

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.

LVMS Youth Group Fishing
FTTU Mentor Milt Claney demonstrate a “roll cast” to LVMS Outdoor Club members.
LVMS Youth Group Fishing
LVMS learner, and experienced fly fisher, Dan T practices a dead drift with a nymph he hand-tied.
LVMS Youth Group Fishing
FTTU mentor Larry Myers ready with the landing net as LVMS learner Dylan A plays a nice rainbow trout.
LVMS Youth Group Fishing
Outdoor Club anglers and mentors practice social distancing while fly fishing on Loyalhanna Creek.
LVMS Youth Group Fishing
FTTU mentor Jim Litrun coaches LVMS learner Tyler Q on keeping a tight line during the drift.
Posted in Youth Education

Cub Scouts Enjoy Fly-Fishing 101 Course

Fly Tying
FTTU volunteers give beginner fly tying instruction.

Cub Scout Pack 416 in West Point, just east of Greensburg, learned what makes fly fishing unique, and they even got to tie their own flies. The Pack had twenty-three boys and girls present for their April 7th meeting at the Church of the Good Shephard; nearly the full Pack. Pack leaders Julie and John Santarlas asked Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) if they could do a program at one of the Pack’s weekly meetings.

Eight TU volunteers described the basics of fly fishing and how it differs from fishing for bluegills that some of the scouts had already experienced. They described the fishing gear needed, how they use artificial lures to imitate trout bugs and how it’s a sport of wading and casting more so than sitting and waiting. They covered safety issues, stream etiquette and TU’s policy of catch and release. The Scouts quickly grasped the concept that trout can be caught unlimited times…but only eaten once! And they all agreed catching the fish is the fun part.

Following the lecture and two brief videos, the Scouts got to tie a “crazy fly” made of feathers, pipe cleaners and paperclips. The patterns were very colorful and creative…possibly even enticing to trout. The second exercise was practicing casting a fly rod. The rods were actually “office rods” designed for practicing indoors. They are much shortly than typical fly rods and the line is yarn. But it actually provides the same action and feel of a real fly rod. Some of the Scouts became very accurate with just a little practice.

The Scouts were younger than most of the students TU works with in school programs and field trips. But they were all ears and eager to learn why fly fishing can become so addictive. TU typically teaches about protecting coldwater streams where trout live as part of their program. That message is perhaps a little too advanced for this age group. But when the Scouts are a little older, TU would be happy to teach the next level course and explain how they can help protect our coldwater fisheries. They can even earn merit badges while they work on stream projects. TU welcomes the opportunity to share their message and mission. Some of these Scouts will undoubtedly be great fly fishers and TU leaders someday!

Instructions
Monty Murty and Larry Myers talk about cold water conservation.
Fly Casting
The Scouts practice fly casting
Posted in Youth Education

Ligonier Valley Middle School Youth Group Field Trip

Brown Trout
A nice brown trout turned up in the electro-fishing survey.

Fourteen learners from Ligonier Valley Middle School (LVMS) received hands-on experience with electro-fishing, fly tying and casting on Tuesday, April 5th as part of their Outdoors Club field trip. Many of the Club members are already outdoor enthusiasts. But what they experienced in the stream on Tuesday was new to all of them.

Josh Penatzer, Project Manager for Loyalhanna Watershed Association has a Scientific Collector Permit from the PA Fish & Boat Commission which authorizes him to conduct electro-fishing surveys. Before heading into the stream, Josh first conducted  stream-side training with the learners to explain the process, what their duties would be and how to be safe while wading.

Learners were equipped with hip boots, nets and buckets and instructed to follow safely behind to retrieve the fish for identification. All fish were handled gently and safely released back into the water. The students were surprised by the size and number of trout collected as well as their secluded hiding spots that many anglers probably passed by. Everything they learned will give them a better appreciation for the trout and their habitat.

 Ryan Podlucky, Health and Physical Education Teacher and Outdoors Club Advisor expressed his appreciation to the TU volunteers. “Thank you so much for giving up part of your day for my learners.  I know they loved the experience and learned a lot of valuable life lessons.  It is so important to get these kids out of the classroom and into the real world as much as possible.  What you teach them about flyfishing, coldwater conservation and life will stay with them forever.”

Twelve volunteers from the local Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) coached the students in the stream while making sure none ventured into water too deep for their boots. After the electro-fishing, the volunteers mentored the students on fly casting and fly tying.

Rod Cross, TU volunteer, teaches casting to all of our youth groups. “I am not a certified casting instructor” reports Rod, “I am just a guy who loves the poetry and art of fly casting. And the students yesterday responded to the mentor’s instructions with attention and interest in how they might present the flies that they learned to tie in the Outdoor Club. As mentors we hope that they will do their part to ‘pay it forward’ by first learning about coldwater conservation, then helping to teach it later in life.” 

TU has partnered with LVMS Outdoor Club for many years. Later in April they will coach the learners on fly fishing in the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) section of the Loyalhanna Creek. As with other youth groups, they will counsel the students on the importance of protecting our natural resources, including coldwater fisheries. They will also explain the value of practicing “catch and release” and the importance of stream etiquette – how to conduct ourselves while fishing.

Fly Tying Instruction
TU mentor Ron Miller explaining fly tying techniques.
Electro-Fishing
Josh Penatzer leads electro-fishing on Mill Creek.
Fly Casting
TU instructor Rod Cross teaching fly rod casting.
Fly Tying
TU mentors coaching fly tyers.
Posted in Fishing Youth Education

FTTU Hosts Franklin Regional Students For Loyalhanna Creek Fishing Outing

Students Ready To Go Fishing
FRSD students geared up and receiving safety instructions and day’s itinerary.

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.

On-Strream Instruction
Student fly fisher Noah practices “drift technique” with to TU mentor Tom Van Dyke
Fly Selection
TU mentor Al Moschetti shares “secret weapon” fly pattern with student angler Jasper.
Roll Cast Instruction
TU Mentor Milt Claney demonstrating the roll cast to students.
Posted in Youth Education

Wildlife Leadership Academy Now Accepting Nominations

The Wildlife Leadership Academy is currently seeking referrals of motivated students ages 14 to 17 to become Certified Conservation Ambassadors. Nominations are now being accepted online at  www.wildlifeleadershipacademy.org/nominate. Letters will be sent to nominated students with an invitation to apply to the 2022 program.

Nominated students should have demonstrated interest in wildlife and/or fisheries conservation. Accepted nominees will become certified Conservation Ambassadors through attending a 5-day residential summer field schools which focuses on a particular wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, bass, brook trout, turkey and bear. Students in each field school will gain extensive knowledge about natural resource conservation, leadership experience, and communication skills.

Applicants may be nominated by an adult who knows them well, but is not a relative (teacher, school counselor, Envirothon advisor, employer, youth group leader, etc.).

As Conservation Ambassadors, students can receive a letter of a recommendation for college applications; certification of community service work, and a certificate designating them as Conservation Ambassadors.  Students are also eligible to apply for three college credits through Cedar Crest College, return to the Academy tuition free the following year, compete for college scholarships, and join an Academy Alumni Network of wildlife, fisheries, and conservation professionals.

Academy Alumni and Conservation Ambassador Aubree Reiter of Blair County describes her participation in the program as an “absolutely amazing experience”.

She shared, “Everything was absolutely amazing. The people we met were extraordinary and the amount of information we obtained was just mind boggling. I still talk about my experience to my family and I am constantly referencing my notes. I can’t wait for my future!  The field school reached beyond my expectations.”

The mission of the Wildlife Leadership Academy is to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries and natural resource legacy for future generations. The Academy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a cooperative initiative involving state agencies and conservation organizations.

FTTU Youth Group members have attended the academy in the past and it is well worth while. The WLA has a coldwater conservation program called “PA Brookies”.


 

Posted in Youth Education

Rivers Youth Camp Registration Now Open

Rivers Camp LogoThe 27th annual Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp will be held June 19-24, 2022. The camp will be at Messiah University in Grantham, PA. It begins on Sunday and ends the following Friday. Admission is limited to 24 selected qualified students from 14 to 17 years of age.

Applications will be accepted now through December 31. Applying via the camp website is preferred. Students selected for the early acceptance will be notified in early January 2022. Applicants who apply during the regular application period of January 1, 2022, through February 28, 2022, will be notified in early March 2022.

The camp tuition is $550 per student. There is no cost to apply, and no money is required until a student is accepted. Financial aid may be available to qualified students. All meals and accommodations are included for the residence camp. The highly structured curriculum is based on college level classes. Students are instructed in ecology, aquatic biology, geology, hydrogeology, erosion and sediment control, ichthyology, riparian corridor protection, watershed management, entomology, and much more. Students also participate in a hands-on stream habitat improvement project.

But it’s not all work. There are 10 fishing sessions, casting, and fishing instruction and fly-tying classes. Over 25 instructors, all experts in their field, teach the various classes. A student doesn’t have to be an accomplished fly fisher or a budding aquatic biologist to attend. The student only needs to be highly motivated and willing to learn.

For more information, a camp brochure, or to apply, visit the camp website at www.riverscamp.com. Be sure to watch the camp video there or join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/49190088991/about . Questions may be submitted at the website or via email to riverscamp@gmail.com

Forbes Trail TU would like to sponsor at least one area youth to attend the camp. If you know of a deserving student, contact us at info@forbestrailtu.org.


 

Posted in Youth Education

Rivers Conservation & Fly Fishing Youth Camp Student Speaks at September Meeting

Nicholas at September Meeting
Nicholas Vargo at the September meeting showing off a few of his catches. The most effective fly??? A red sucker spawn!

The Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp was back in 2021 after a one-year hiatus due to COVID. This year, FTTU awarded a full sponsorship to local student Nicholas Vargo to attend the camp which ran from June 20th through the 25th at Messiah College along Yellow Breeches Creek in central Pennsylvania. Nicholas gave a short talk and slide show on his experiences at the camp at our September meeting. He said the camp really opened his eyes on the importance of cold water conservation and increased his fly fishing and fly tying skills ten-fold. The camp has college level courses on a variety of topics related to cold water conservation. Nicholas said he particularly enjoyed the electrofishing session which revealed some of the fish species inhabiting Yellow Breeches Creek. The kids had time to fish each day before classes in the morning and again in the evening.

If you know of a deserving young person who would be interested in attending the camp in 2022, contact us for more information at info@forbestrailtu.org. The camp is open to boys and girls aged 14-17 and will be held June 19 – 24, 2022. FTTU would be interested in sponsoring at least one local student.


 

Posted in Youth Education

Youth Essay Contest

Trout Unlimited is sponsoring a Youth Essay Contest open to boys and girls aged 12 – 18. The theme is “Describe the Moment You Felt a Responsibility to Become Involved With Conservation. There are two judging catagories, 8th-10th grade and 11th-12th grade. Entries must be between 600-800 words and must be submitted by the deadline, October 31, 2020.

Click HERE for more information and to submit your entry. All Youth who enter are given a free 1-year membership to Trout Unlimited.


 

Posted in Events Meetings Youth Education

Rivers Youth Camp and May Chapter Activities Canceled

The 2020 Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp scheduled for June 21-26, 2020, has been canceled. The camp was to be held at Messiah College near Yellow Breeches Creek. Messiah has canceled all events at the college through the end of June. We had three students from FTTU’s region accepted into the 2020 camp. All those accepted to the 2020 camp are automatically accepted to the 2021 camp scheduled for June 20-25 provided they inform the camp of their intentions to attend.

FTTU has also canceled our annual stream-side clean up of Loyalhanna Creek in the Delayed Harvest section in Ligonier that was scheduled for May 6, 2020. Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, in collaboration with DEP and Penn DoT has postponed the statewide cleanup until fall. We will reschedule our litter cleanup of Loyalhanna Creek for sometime in September. As the pandemic situation improves, and the stay-at-home restrictions are relaxed, we will evaluate options for activities during the summer and early fall. Needless to say, the May meeting is also canceled.

 


 

Posted in Meetings Youth Education

Cancellations and Schedule Changes

Due to the school shut downs, the March 25th and April 1st Youth Outdoor Club sessions have been canceled. The on-stream casting and fishing session is still on, but has been rescheduled for April 9th on Loyalhanna Creek’s DHALO section.