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.
Rock Run Water Test Results For May
How’s that saying go? “Neither rain nor snow…”. The FTTU citizen scientists braved the rain, cold and wind to make their appointed rounds on Sunday May 1st. Monthly test results for the mouth of Rock Run were as follows:
• Air Temperature – 50° F
• Water Temperature – 48° F
• Linn Run Discharge – 13.9 ft.³/sec.
• Linn Run Gauge – 1.9 ft.
• pH – 7.7
• Alkalinity – 4.2
We also checked the contents of two leaf packs that were placed in Rock Run at the mouth in December. One of the packs had been washed away, but we counted 132 macroinvertebrates in the other. The majority of the sample was stoneflies and of those, the leaf eating roachlike stonefly was the most numerous. Also collected were net spinning caddis larva, a few mayflies, a crayfish, some sowbugs and a couple of cranefly larva.
The good news is that the stoneflies and mayflies are considered most sensitive to pollution so the fact that at least stoneflies are thriving in the stream is an indicator of good water quality.
Leaf Packs are leaves collected along the stream and placed into a net bag similar to what you might find potatoes or onions sold in at the grocery store. The pack is anchored to the stream bed and allowed to “soak” for a couple of months. The pack is then collected and sorted through to find what organisms have taken up residence there.
Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Banquet
Mark your calendars, November 5th, 2022. The museum will hold its annual fundraising banquet on that date. It will be held at the Masonic Lodge, 1236 Holly Pike, Carlisle, Pa. The theme of the banquet will be a tribute to the late Ed Shenk, master of the Letort. Also, that night the museum will induct Pennsylvanians Al Caucci who created the Comparadun pattern dry fly, and Chuck Furimsky who since the 1990s has orchestrated fly fishing shows and symposiums at Seven Springs, Somerset, NJ and Lancaster, Pa.
Registration for the banquet will begin in June and you can register at the museum’s website www.paflyfishing.org.
FTTU Earth Day Litter Clean-Up
Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) celebrated Earth Day by cleaning litter and junk from the banks of the Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe and Ligonier on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. TU Director, Angie Schultheis, organized a crew to clean nine bags of trash from the Mission Road parking area in Latrobe along the creek. What’s most disturbing is, this is the third year in a row they’ve cleaned this same section.
The crew in Ligonier collected thirteen bags plus a grill and miscellaneous items along the delayed harvest section of the stream. The good news is very little litter was found adjacent to the stream indicating anglers are doing a much better job of carrying their trash back out with them. Kudos to the fishers!
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about motorists. 99.9% of the litter collected was thrown out car windows, or deliberately dumped over the banks along the roadways. There is a very small percentage, a fraction of 1%, of the population, like the litterbugs who dumped a gas grill over the bank along Nicely Road, who still don’t get it. It not only creates an unsightly insult to our natural resources, it attracts others to do the same, just like the broken window syndrome in urban areas.
Trout Unlimited encourages fishers to pack out all their self-generated litter like candy wrappers, lure packaging, fishing line and bottled drinks. And we ask that they carry a bag to collect litter others have carelessly left behind. Litter attracts more litter. Hopefully pristine streams and stream banks will cause litterbugs to think twice.
We have world-class streams, parks, forests and trails in western Pennsylvania. Trout Unlimited asks all outdoor enthusiasts to do their part to help protect our natural resources and to keep them free of litter and illegal dumps. If you witness someone illegally dumping trash, you can report it as part of the Keep PA Beautiful, Illegal Dump Free PA Program at https://illegaldumpfreepa.org/report-it/. Don’t ignore it…report it!
Cub Scouts Enjoy Fly-Fishing 101 Course
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!
Ligonier Valley Middle School Youth Group Field Trip
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.
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.
This month’s meeting will feature representatives from local organizations who will speak on conservation work in our area. Represented at the meeting will be The Loyalhanna Watershed Association, Powdermill Nature Reserve, Linn Run State Park, Ligonier Township, PA Fish & Boat Commission and The Westmoreland Conservation District.
Here’s a rare opportunity to get up-to-date information on conservation efforts in our local area.
Meeting starts at 6:00 pm at the Nimick Education Center in Ligonier on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. See the side-bar for directions.
The testers braved opening day crowds to do water sampling on Rock Run. It was a beautiful but chilly spring day with air temps at 32°. Rock Run water temp was running at 39°.
pH came out at 7.65 and alkalinity readings were 5.0.
Linn Run gauge height was at 2.03 ft., and Rock Run was running medium/medium high and clear.
The Fly Tyer’s Reunion is returning on Thursday evening April 28, 2022 to Seven Springs Mountain Resort at the Highlands Sporting Clays Lodge located at 777 Water Wheel Drive Champion, PA. Along with many nationally known fly tyers that have participated in the past, a number of new tiers will be demonstrating their tying skills this year. All the tyers will showcase their famous fly patterns and will be selling their best signature patterns as well. They will provide advice and share their secrets that have helped make them the best fly tyers in the sport.
Tyers already confirmed to attend are Tom Baltz, Scott Loughner, Rob Reeder, Shane Hawryliak, Tim Cammisa, Shawn Holsinger, Bob Patlen, Randy Buchanan, Greg Heffner, Chuck Furimsky along with West Virginia’s First Family of fly tying, Joe and Jodi Messinger. Realistic style fly tyers including Bob Meade, Joe Jackson and Amran Ahmar will also be on hand. Other tyers are still being added to the show’s lineup. Show Director Chuck Furimsky reports, “I am waiting to hear from Braden Miller, a sixteen year old, who is one of the finest articulated fly tyers in the country.”
Headwater Books Publisher and Editor Jay Nichols will join Lenny Lichvar, an outdoor writer and a co- author of the book Keystone Fly Fishing which be available for purchase, to discuss angling opportunities throughout Pennsylvania.
New this year will be an entrance fee of $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for anyone ages 13 to 19, and children will be free. Parking is free. All attendees will receive three tickets for the 8:30 PM drawing for over five hundred dollars worth of various fly tying materials. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early for food and beverages available in the Lodge dining area. The tying will begin at 6:00 PM and end at 9:00 PM.