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.
The Women’s and Diversity Initiatives of the Forbes Trail and Penn’s Woods West Trout Unlimited chapters partnered at the March 19th Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s (CMNH) Super Science Saturday to connect the CMNH’s Monster Fish exhibit to conservation and fishing in PA. Based on the National Geographic program with the same name, Monster Fish highlights ancient fish and the importance of their habitat. Eighteen volunteers from across the two chapters, along with CMNH’s Climate and Rural Systems Partnership, connected the exhibit to our local rivers and streams by inviting participants to learn about relationships between trout, insect life cycles, fishing and environmental change.
How do we make that connection? What can trout teach us about climate change? As we know, fish such as trout and the macroinvertebrates that they feed upon are great indicators of the health of our streams and environment. Trout provide food, a connection to the land and an asset to the local economy but depend on us to be responsible stewards of the land and protect the health and integrity of the forests and waters they call home.
The activities the two chapters facilitated included fly-tying demonstrations, trout and macroinvertebrate coloring sheets, measuring kids and comparing their height to the largest fish caught in Pennsylvania, and just generally engaging people in conversations about trout, fishing, and conservation. Kids and adults alike enjoyed comparing preserved macros to the imitations created by the TU volunteers. Volunteers explained how they recreate the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of the insects. The tables were stationed right outside of the Monster Fish exhibit, so the activities made great local connections as visitors were entering or exiting the exhibit.
This is just the latest example of how these two chapters are working together to reach out to women and families. Forbes Trail hosted a beginner’s fly tying event for women this winter, and together the chapters are supporting an outdoor club for high school students with fly fishing outings and field days. The two also are partnering to bring Stream Girls back to Western PA this summer! More information can be found on our activities at forbestrailtu.org and https://pwwtu.org/
Everyone involved enjoyed the opportunity and we are happy to back to interacting with our community in person! We are looking forward to future partnerships that are in the works with the museum and Trout Unlimited.
FTTU recently formed an advocacy committee to speak out on issues affecting cold water conservation in Pennsylvania and our local area. The committee has 9 members and is chaired by Rod Cross. They hit the ground running first with Woolly Adelgid in Linn Run State Park then quickly came a call to action to comment to the PA Fish & Boat Commission in opposition to stocking over class A wild trout in Potter County’s Freeman Run.
On February 1st, we were alerted by the Mountain Watershed Association of a proposed expansion of the Rustic Ridge mine. The 1,440 acre expansion will take operations into Donegal and Mt. Pleasant Townships. Watersheds affected would be Indian Creek, Jacobs Creek and Loyalhanna Creek.
On February 9th, the Committee responded to an informal Public Comment with a letter to the DEP expressing our concern that the expansion would threaten the cold water resources in these watersheds along with the recreational and economic benefits of the Laurel Highlands.
The committee will continue to participate in meetings with the Mountain Watershed Association, Township Supervisors and PennDot to stay abreast of the issue.
If I can remember correctly, my fly-fishing adventures began in the 1980’s. At that time, it was nothing but a hobby which I enjoyed while being out in nature and the solitude on a day off from work here and there. I never really developed a true appreciation of the sport because like many of us with homes, families and careers, there was always something that needed to be done.
My children became adults and I retired nearly 8 years ago which freed up some time for me to pursue some of my interests. A good friend began a tradition of a yearly fly-fishing trip to his hunting/fishing cabin in the State College area to chase the wild brown trout in the limestone streams in that area. Initially we began chasing the sulphur mayfly hatch. What an eye opener. To be wading in a stream full of wild trout during a prolific mayfly hatch is truly something indescribable.
The sulphur chase evolved into chasing the green drake mayflies. Then it was the march brown, which turned into the Hendrickson, and so on and so on. Our novice group was evolving quickly from stoneflies, caddis, midges, scuds, mayflies and terrestrials. Entomologist’s we certainly were not, but we were trying and learning as we went along. The group which goes on that trip annually consists of 6-10 guys. One in that group has just finished his third competitive fly-fishing tournament. We were learning and having fun. Of course, there is always that competitive nature which is unspoken but absolutely felt amongst a group while fishing.
That was the path that led me to the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited (FTTU). I was seeking knowledge to learn more about the cold-water fisheries and become a better conservationist. I actually believed that if I started tying my own flies, I could save a boatload of money. I quickly learned that was in no way the case. If you are thinking you will save money tying your own flies, you are absolutely wrong. I will tell you this though. There is nothing more rewarding than catching a fish on a fly which you tied yourself. Couple that with being able to identify and match what those fish are seeing and eating gives one a great sense of accomplishment.
I believe it was 2014 or 2015 while attending a FTTU meeting there was discussion about getting a group together to tie flies. I was all in on that. My quest for information at that point had peaked. I wanted to learn all I could. YouTube and the internet are nice but I feel there is nothing better than hands on experience and actually doing it and making mistakes as you go. The late Drew Banas was heading up the group as the coordinator. He did a great job securing a venue and communicating with everyone interested.
So here I am, now the coordinator of this fly-tying group associated with FTTU. With the exception of one covid year, we have been active every year since the start. The group is filled with fly-tyers willing to help. Ask questions and learn as you go. We were recently told to decide on a name for this group. The name decided upon is the TU Gray Hackle Gang.
The TU Gray Hackle Gang is primarily a group comprised of members of the FTTU. We are a part of FTTU. The skill level is broad in the group. There are members who began fly-tying this year and there are members who have been fly-tying for years. There is an active member willing to work with new fly-tyers and teach them the basics. Every member who attends is willing to help out. If you are interested in fly-tying but are intimidated, let me relieve your apprehension. This is really an activity in which one may proceed with as much detail as desired. Anything from winding yarn on a hook to adding feathers, fur, beads or fuzz. Whatever your comfort level is perfectly acceptable.
We typically start meeting sometime after Christmas and continue weekly until the weather breaks enough that we can start getting on the water using the flies that were tied. Currently, we are meeting every Tuesday at noon for lunch. This year we are meeting at the Tin Lizzy in Youngstown PA. Once everyone has finished their meal, we move to a private room and all tie whatever each individual wishes to tie on that particular day. Our session is usually finished and everyone is cleaned up and ready to head home around 4 PM.
We have tried tying the same pattern each week as a group but that didn’t work out very well. Everyone does their own thing. We share ideas on patterns, materials and techniques. Believe it or not, there are no secrets that I have encountered. Everyone is open and happy to share. Typically, each individual brings all of their own equipment. This includes a vice, tools and materials. The chapter has loaned out equipment in the past for new fly-tyers to use until they determine if this is something they wish to get involved in. Our goal is to tie flies of all types, familiar patterns, unfamiliar patterns or some that have recently been ‘released’.
The possibilities are endless. Flies have been tied for native brook trout, wild brown trout, stocked trout or great lakes steelhead. Whatever is of interest to the individual is within reach. We have had members tie patterns in preparation for various fishing trips out of state. I won’t mention anything about bass or panfish because after all, this is Trout Unlimited.
Additionally, we all enjoy the socialization and interacting with each other. Of course, there are always some fish tales told as we go. Anyone and everyone are welcome to participate. If you are new to fly-tying or feel it may be something of interest to you, let us know and we will make arrangements to ensure everything will be available for you to try it out. If you are a seasoned fly-tier and looking to tie with us, hear or tell some tales on Tuesdays, come and join us. Email any questions to email@example.com and someone will gladly respond.
When: Tuesday’s – Noon for lunch, then fly tying afterwards.
Where: Tin Lizzy Restaurant, 259 Main Street, Youngstown, PA
(on the corner of Main Street and Route 982).
Want to join in? Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org