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Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests August 2022

Rock Run August 22
Some Rain Would Be Nice

It’s the dog days and low flows of summer in the Laurel Highlands.

Here’s the results of our monthly water tests:

Air Temp – 69°F
Water Temp – 65.5°F
Linn Run Discharge – 1.90 ft³/sec
Linn Run Gauge – 1.42 ft
pH – 7.4
Alkalinity – 9.1

Lowest flow and highest water temperature of 2022 so far. Still hospitable to trout.

Flow goes down alkalinity goes up.

Posted in Conservation

Donegal Lake Receives New Bait Fish Condos

Habitat Structure Construction
Putting the finishing touches on one of the baskets.
Finished Structures
Finished structures ready for concrete block weights.
Loading Structures on Boat
Loading up the habitat structures weighted with concrete blocks.
FTTU volunteers take a break.

Volunteers from Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited assisted the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) on Wednesday, July 27, installing new fish habitat structures in Donegal Lake near Stahlstown. The lake is a 90-acre impoundment owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the PFBC. Formally known as the Fourmile Run Dam, it is located in the headwaters of the stream and was originally constructed in 1967. For safety reasons, the breast of the dam had to be replaced requiring the lake to be drained in 2016. In 2019, the new $5.5 million dam was in place and the lake began to refill. It is now at its normal summer level. Restocking of the lake began in early 2020 with fingerling size warmwater gamefish, including largemouth bass. And this past spring it was stocked with trout.

Four PFBC staff from Bellefonte arrived at 10 AM with a trailered boat, fork lift and a pickup truck load of tools and equipment. Within three hours, twenty-five condos, technically referred to as short, vertical plank structures, had been installed throughout the lower half of the lake. PFBC took GPS readings of each location and will eventually post them on their web site to help fishers locate them.

Most of the structures were assembled by Latrobe Senior High School students as part of their wood shop course. Three were built on site with leftover materials. Nine concrete blocks totaling 270 pounds, were placed in each basket to serve as ballast to anchor them to the bottom of the lake. The baskets were carefully loaded with a forklift onto a specially equipped boat with a stainless steel platform in the bow. Once the location was selected, the baskets were pushed into the water to serve as habitat. Only two baskets could be transported at a time.

First, algae and other plant life begins to cover the structures which attract macroinvertebrates, which in turn attract small fish. The structures protect the bait fish from predators as they grow. But they frequently venture out, or game fish raid the structures knowing they are a major sanctuary for food. Anglers, knowing where the structures are located, focus their fishing around these food sources. It’s the beginning, and sometimes the end, of an entire food chain.

The project was funded by a Cooperative Habitat Improvement Project (CHIP) grant through the PFBC. Josh Penatzer, Project Manager for the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, coordinated the project and sent a request for volunteers to Forbes Trail several weeks in advance. FTTU members are always anxious to assist with boots-on-the-ground projects such as this. Seven volunteers showed up and worked closely with Josh and the PFBC staff to complete the project. This was obviously not the first rodeo for the PFBC crew or Josh. Within thirty minutes of arrival, they were handing out safety gear to the volunteers and loading the baskets onto the boat. It was one of the smoothest and most efficient operations we’ve ever assisted with. Forbes Trail appreciates the opportunity to be part of this project. As expressed in one of the photos, a project like this requires an inspector, supervisor and visionary!               

Posted in Events

FTTU Summer Picnic

The Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited held its summer picnic for members, family and friends on Saturday, July 16th at Kingston Veterans & Sportsmen Club, east of Latrobe. Because of the Covid pandemic and related restrictions, this was the first picnic of its kind since 2019. It was a treat to be outdoors to enjoy both the summer weather and the camaraderie of family and friends.  

There were raffle prizes, including a Yeti cooler, adult size fly rods and several fishing rod/reel combinations for the kids. The event also included a “swap” where used and excess fishing and fly-tying gear was sold. Activities for kids included painting wood cutouts of trout and tying a “crazy fly” with paperclips, pipe cleaners and hackle.

Adults tested their fly-casting skills on a par-3 casting course. And bean bags were constantly flying through the air on the corn hole courses. A buffet lunch was catered by Forks Inn, Ligonier and a trout decorated cake was provided by the Laughlintown Pie Shoppe.  

Attendees enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere and opportunity to meet new friends and chat with some they had not seen for a couple of years. Some of the students from Ligonier Valley Middle School’s Outdoor Club, which the chapter interacts with, attended and were able to purchase used fly rod and reel combos at drastically reduced prices.  

TU extends a special thank you to our partner Kingston Veterans & Sportsmen Club for hosting us.

Rick Yaksic calls the winning number.
Cake from the Pie Shoppe
The smiles say it all.
Lots of fun activities for the kids.
Casting Course
Rod Cross explains the Fly Casting Course
Handpainted Trout.

Congratulations to the Raffle Winners

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Quality Tests for July

Mouth of Rock Run July 2022

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.

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests for June

Rock Run June

Here’s the results of the monthly water tests for June

Air Temperature: 58° F
Water Temperature: 57° F
Linn Run Discharge: 12.3 ft³/sec
Linn Run Gauge: 1.86 ft.
Alkalinity: 5.5
pH: 7.6

Posted in Conservation Rock Run

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”!

Limestone Sand Delivery
25 tons of high-grade limestone sand delivered to the headwaters of Rock Run
Truck Stuck in the Mud
The truck got stuck in a muddy spot.
Posted in Uncategorized

Larry Myers Honored with Don Robb Memorial Award.

Don Robb Award
Larry Myers is presented with the Don Robb Award. (L-R) Scott Minster, chapter Secretary; Rod Cross, Director; Larry Myers; Bob Shusko, Director and John Albright, Loyalhanna Watershed Liaison.

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.

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 Citizen Science Rock Run

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.

Stonefly nymphs from Rock Run.
Crane Fly Larva
Large Cranefly Larva from Rock Run.
Posted in Uncategorized

Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Banquet

PA Fly Fishing Museum Logo

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