Rock Run Water Quality Tests for July
Here’s the results of the monthly water quality testing at the mouth of Rock Run for July 2022.
- Air Temperature: 68° F
- Water Temperature: 62.5° F
- pH: 7.4
- Alkalinity: 7.7
- Linn Run Gauge Height: 1.73 ft.
- Linn Run Discharge: 7.0 ft³/sec
For all the stats for 2022, see the Rock Run Page.
Limestone Sand Delivered to Rock Run Headwaters
May 17, 2022, Denny Hess led chapter volunteers Joe Bilotta, Bob Shusko and Monty Murty in a successful project to replace limestone in the headwaters of Rock Run, the largest tributary of Linn Run. Without the large volume of Rock Run’s cold waters, Linn Run may not be a trout stream in warm weather. Unfortunately the headwater springs that form Rock Run emerge from the ground at pH 4.5 and sometimes lower, way too acid for trout.
With a Growing Greener grant in early 2000’s Forbes Trail Chapter did something about that. We built a hardstand dump station in the Rock Run headwaters, and with a site prepared to facilitate gradual leaching of fine glass-grade limestone sand into the stream we began delivering acid-reducing limestone into the stream. It was left to us to keep funding the limestone. These sites are extremely remote and difficult to reach hiking, much less driving to, especially with a semi-tractor/trailer hauling 25 tons of steaming hot limestone.
May 17th we received the semi-annual delivery, and the huge and full truck got stuck in the mud! One of the personally satisfying things about volunteering with FTTU is working with friends who know how to work. Once Denny made the call that the truck wasn’t going to self-extract, the team instantly dived into organized work. Key to extracting the truck was Joe Bilotta driving back down the mountain and returning with his big Ram dually. Salvaging a big hook and clevis pin from Denny’s Jeep, and with buckets and shovels we got the wheels to grip and with Joe pulling we got the monster out of the mud “Highway from Hell” style!
Result; a fresh batch of limestone is ready to be moved into the stream over the next two years when we’ll do it again.
After almost 20 years of chapter hard labor and funding, brook trout have been restored to Rock Run to the extent that this past February the PA Fish & Boat Commission reclassified Rock Run from dead to a Wild Reproducing Trout Stream, Brook Trout no less, our only native stream-dwelling trout.
Well done good and faithful servant Ralph Koscianski and the members you’ve trained to follow in your footsteps restoring native trout.
With sore hands and aching backs yesterday we just stood there and looked downstream dumbfounded and thinking “The things we do for trout”!
Larry Myers Honored with Don Robb Memorial Award.
FTTU President Larry Myers was presented with the Don Robb Memorial Award for long-term service to the chapter at our May meeting at the PA Fly Co fly shop in Acme, PA.
Larry has served the chapter as President for two terms. During his tenure he initiated Forbes Trail’s highly successful Disabled Veteran’s Fishing Day, and the Linn Run Watershed Conservation Plan. By securing grants and through several successful fundraising campaigns, he strengthened the chapter’s financial standing and with his public realtions skills he raised the profile of FTTU attracting volunteers and new members. Our membership roster increased by at least 100 during his time in office.
Larry has spent countless hours coordinating with partner organizations, volunteers and schools to make FTTU projects and events happen.
For all of his efforts, the membership presented Larry with the chapter’s highest honor, the Don Robb Memorial Award along with a beautiful wood carving – “Linn Run Brookie” hand crafted by Rod Cross. This work of art incorporates actual driftwood from the Linn Run stream.
The membership, officers and directors would like to thank Larry for all of his tireless efforts making FTTU what we feel is the premier TU chapter in Pennsylvania.
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.