DISABLED VETERANS OUTING
Fly Fishing to Heal the Body and Soul
Military veterans from southwest Pennsylvania enjoyed beautiful fall weather on Saturday, October 2, 2021 catching trout as part of the annual Veterans Service Program sponsored by Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU). Nearly 100 veterans, Boy Scouts and volunteers participated in this year’s event which coincidently wrapped up TU’s National Trout Week. Kingston Veterans and Sportsmen Club hosted this year’s event at their facilities just east of Latrobe, PA. Project Healing Waters, Fly Fishing, Inc., an annual partner, invited many of their members from the Pittsburgh region, some of whom tie their own flies and build their own fly rods. Boy Scout Troops 465 and 305 and Cub Scout Troop 305 grilled and served lunch to all participants. The event was free to all who attended.
“Events like today’s are very important to our veterans, especially after being isolated during the pandemic”, noted Amanda Thompson, PHW’s Pittsburgh Program Lead. “Veterans rely on other veterans for support and understanding, so bringing them together for a fun day of fishing is very special to them.”
This is TU’s opportunity to honor our veterans for their service to our country. It’s also an opportunity to introduce them to a sport that has been proven to be an effective therapy for healing body and soul. It really works! Some of the veterans were accomplished fishers while others were trying it for the first time. Everyone enjoyed the camaraderie whether fishing, sitting around the camp fire or enjoying a grilled burger with new-found friends. TU and PHW provided mentors and fishing equipment for anyone in need. Free door prizes of fly rod and reel combos, a rainbow trout print, and gift baskets were raffled to veterans and scouts. Lowes donated bottled water and Gatorade for everyone. The entire event was free to participants.
“As the sun began to set and our day came to an end, I heard nothing but compliments about the event” reported Kingston Board Member, Jeff Uschak. “Words can’t describe how great the day was. Thanks to all who helped make this a memorable event! Our doors are open and the welcome mat is out for October 2022.”
TU extends a special thank you to our partners, scouts, volunteers and sponsors for your dedicated support. You’ve made this a special day for our veterans! If you know of a veteran who you think might be interested in joining us next fall, please ask them to get in contact with us. We want to reach out to as many veterans as possible
2021 FTTU VETS DAY SLIDESHOW
The FTTU Youth Conservation & Fly Fishing Program
Note; we were unable to conduct our youth program in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. We hope to resume the program in 2022.
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.