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Posted in Fishing Youth Education

LVMS Outdoor Club Completes Successful Fly Fishing Program

FTTU volunteer John Albright approves of this Outdoor Club member's job of landing this nice sized rainbow on Loyalhanna Creek.

The Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited worked with fifteen students over the winter and spring to teach coldwater conservation, fly tying, rod rigging, casting and fly fishing.  They wrapped it all together nicely during a field trip on Thursday, April 13.  The day for them began with a presentation by the local PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC), Waterways Conservation Officer, Matt Kauffman explaining how the PFBC supports the sport of fishing and a summary of the relevant regulations.

Immediately that session, Josh Penatzer, Project Manager for the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, demonstrated electrofishing to the students.  The students donned waders, and some carried buckets and nets, as they followed Josh around Mill Creek collecting fish and macroinvertebrates.  Once collected, Josh identified the species and explained their value in the stream before each critter was released unharmed.  This is a component of the coldwater conservation program being taught to the Outdoor Club each year…learning about stream ecology and the value of each component.

After a bag lunch, the students grabbed their waders and fishing gear to put all they had learned into practice on the Delayed Harvest Articicial Lures Only section of the Loyalhanna Creek, just downstream of the Rt. 711 bridge.  The students had obviously paid close attention during their Club classes because their efforts were rewarded with several trout and even more shouts of “fish on”!

Mr. Ryan Podlucky, Health and Physical Education Teacher and Outdoors Club Advisor for LVMS had this to say following the event…”I just wanted to thank you so much for a great day.  I know many of those kids said yesterday was the best day of school they ever had.  The boys were in the locker room talking to me before dismissal and they said they really felt like they actually learned something they can use.  It was a pretty powerful discussion.  That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for you guys.  I really appreciate everything you do for us.”

Eight mentors from Forbes Trail assisted with the event on Thursday although approximately fifteen total helped with classes throughout the semester.  The students enjoyed practicing what they had been learning, and the mentors enjoyed the opportunity to share their skills and experience.  Forbes Trail works with several schools, scouts and youth group to help groom coldwater conservationists, and teach their rewarding sport of fly fishing.  The mentors work hard to protect trout fisheries and keep their fly fishing tradition alive.  And this group of LVMS students have certainly made their time and efforts worthwhile!  Kudos to all the Outdoor Club students!

Rainbow
One of the students caught this nice rainbow.
Rainbow2
Another one of the kids with a large rainbow caught on the Loyalhanna.
Electrofishing
Josh Penatzer leads the group in an electrofishing study of Mill Creek.
Electrofishing2
WCOs look on as the students study a fish caught in the electrofishing survey.
Mentor and Student
FTTU President Larry Myers mentors one of the students.
Student and Mentor
FTTU's Milt Claney helps a student with his casting.
Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Test Results April 2023

Rock Run April 2023

Here’s the results of water quality tests at the mouth of Rock Run
on April 2, 2023.

Air temp: 30°F
Water temp: 41°F
Linn Run Discharge: 20.6 ft³/sec
Linn Run Gauge: 2.09
pH: 7.7
Alkalinity: 3.3
Flow: med/high and clear

Posted in Fly Tying Youth Education

LVMS Students Learn About Cold Water Conservation and Fly Fishing.

Fly Tying
TU instructor Rod Cross showing leaner Ethan Friscarella how to tie a Mop Fly.
Macro Instruction
TU instructor Monty Murty using a Power Point presentation to explain the life cycle of macroinvertebrates.

Twelve students from Ligonier Valley Middle School’s Outdoor Club participated in a winter program to learn about stream conservation and fly tying.  This is a program to teach the importance of protecting our coldwater fisheries and to train them to be environmental stewards.  

The Outdoor Club meets every other Thursday indoors for five events.  The learners will test their skills fishing for trout in April, the final class.  The program is conducted by the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  

“The Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited Chapter mentors do an amazing job teaching our learners about the importance of coldwater fisheries, and introducing them to fly fishing”, noted Ryan Podlucky, Health and Physical Education Teacher and Outdoors Club Advisor.  

Each session begins with a video presentation about trout streams, the importance of clean water for trout, and a lesson on a particular macroinvertebrate…or trout bug.  The learners then tie that particular fly pattern to make it look like the real deal.  During their field day, they’ll use their hand-tied flies to try to fool trout in Loyalhanna Creek.  

The patterns include trout egg imitations, bait fish, leeches, insect larva and adult trout bugs.  The learners will practice casting, reading the stream, making a near-natural presentation and, how to release trout unharmed.  TU teaches the value of using barbless hooks as well as the practice of catch-and-release.  

“It’s a great hands-on learning experience for the students” notes TU class instructor Joe Bilotta. “And it’s one more opportunity for Trout Unlimited to instill our values in our next generation of coldwater conservationists.” TU wants to introduce young learners to fly fishing as an outdoor activity they can enjoy with friends, or by themselves. 

Fly fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and take a break from studying, work, competitive sports and trying to keep up on social media.  The more, young learners TU can recruit, the more ambassadors we’ll have to help protect our precious natural resources. 

Posted in Citizen Science Conservation Linn Run

Linn Run Conservation Plan Released

Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited debuted their final Linn Run study results at a public meeting on March 30, 2023, at the Powdermill Nature Reserve.   Thirty-five guests were present to learn about the overall health of Linn Run watershed and what threats to the stream need to be addressed.

The study began in April of 2021 and was funded with a grant from the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, a grant-making foundation that invests in efforts to protect healthy, natural streams around the state.  The study was a “partnership” effort involving state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations, each bringing unique expertise to the table.  Nearly fifty volunteers, including TU members, citizen scientists and professional chemists and entomologists worked on the project for nearly two years.

The specific studies looked at the water quality including potential pollutants such as E. coli, iron oxide, road salt and aluminum which can harm all aquatic life.  Extensive sampling done for macroinvertebrates (trout bugs), showed that the main stem and the major tributaries all had a healthy variety and number of bugs.  

Teams of volunteers conducted habitat assessments looking at every inch of the stream and tributaries from the first raindrop on Laurel Mountain to where Linn Run passes under the Rt. 381 bridge in Rector.  Bank erosion from flash floods, hiking trail washouts, log jams and barriers restricting fish movement were some of the problems discovered.  The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), a tiny insect that infects the needles of hemlock trees, has been documented and could threaten the canopy over nursery waters.  

A limestone treatment system installed on the largest tributary, Rock Run, in 2005 has proven to be effective at raising both the pH and alkalinity of the tributary to where it now supports wild trout reproduction.  A similar treatment system might be considered for the headwaters of Linn Run.

The Coldwater Conservation Plan is part of a “process”. The next step will be for TU to meet with partners such as the State Park and Forbes State Forest officials to determine what remediation efforts DCNR might be able to work into their budgets and maintenance plans.  Then, decide if grants and more manpower might be needed.  Some activities such as clearing log jams after severe floods and monitoring for E. coli, the HWA and gill lice is expected to be an ongoing exercise by the partners.  

Overall, Linn Run is a relatively healthy, but somewhat fragile, high gradient mountain stream.  It and the surrounding park and forest attract well over 100,000 visitors each year.  Linn Run is the “crown jewel” of the watershed and the Partners are committed to Conserving, protecting and restoring it using whatever resources are needed. 

Andrea Presentation
Andrea Kautz, Entomologist and Lab Manager for Powdermill Nature Reserve explains the type and number of macroinvertebrates recovered on Linn Run.
Monty Presentation
Monty Murty, past chapter president and designer of the study, explains some of the water quality problems discovered.
Posted in Events

50th Anniversary Celebration

Award Presentation
Presentation of Proclamation from Westmoreland County Commissioners. L-R: Banquet MC Rod Cross, Commissioner Doug Chew, President Larry Myers, Banquet Chair Monty Murty

The Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited celebrated its 50th anniversary on March 18th at Ferrante’s Lakeview in Greensburg with 200 guests in attendance.  The Chapter was formed in 1973 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Anges the summer before.  The storm damaged much of Ligonier driving the waters of Loyalhanna Creek over its banks and destroying everything in its path.  The creek was left looking essentially like a lifeless canal.

Local sportsmen and businessmen chartered a new chapter of Trout Unlimited to work with the PA Fish Commission, Penn DOT and the Army Corps of Engineers to redesign the creek into the premier trout stream that it is today.  The section of stream running through Ligonier is designated Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) and also a PA Select Stream which qualifies it to receive more and larger trout.  It is included as one of the top 10 streams in the Trout Unlimited Laurel Highlands Trout Trail www.laurelhighlandstrouttrail.org  A true success story for the region!

Many of the Chapter’s original leaders and members, captured in the news clippings, slideshow and photos on display at the event, shared stories of their stream remediation work and the beginning of their education and outreach programs.  Guest speaker, Alan Stansbury, was a close friend of one of the early leaders, Don Robb, and spoke of how Don helped fuel the interest in fly fishing in the region.  Don operated a tackle shop in downtown Ligonier where he built custom bamboo fly rods and tied flies for local anglers, some who traveled worldwide pursuing trout and salmon.  

Westmoreland County Commissioners issued a proclamation to the Chapter for their service in the community and for protecting coldwater fisheries.  Commissioner Doug Chew attended the event and presented the award.  Monty Murty, past president for the Chapter, was Chair of the Banquet Committee and Board Director, Rod Cross served as Master of Ceremonies.

Forbes Trail is one of 49 chapters in PA and has over 500 members.  About 50 active members teach coldwater conservation, fly tying and fly casting in local schools.  They sponsor an annual clinic for disabled military veterans to teach them to fly fish as a means to heal the body and Soul.  And 40 volunteers recently completed a two-year study to develop a Cold Water Conservation Plan for Linn Run.

Len Lichvar
PA Trout Unlimited Council President Lenny Lichvar applauds Chapter’s accomplishments
Alan Stansbury
Guest speaker Alan Stansbury shares early history of Forbes Trail Chapter
Banquet Crowd
Some of the crowd of 200
Posted in Events

Banquet Ticket Sales Now Closed

FTTU 50th Logo

We have officially ended banquet ticket sales. Our ticket count has been submitted to Lakeview and we can sell no more.

Tickets are not sold at the door.

Thanks to all who have purchased tickets, we have exceeded our goal of 175. See you March 18!

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests March 2023

Tree Fall Rock Run

Monthly Rock Run Water Tests 2-25-23

It was a cold morning as the FTTU citizen scientists conducted monthly pH and alkalinity tests with frozen hands.

We arrived to find even more trees and branches down over the stream.

Air Temp – 28° F
Water Temp – 37.5° F
pH – 7.3
Alkalinity – 3.4
Linn Run Discharge – 21.1 ft³/sec – Medium High

Posted in Events Meetings

Special Guest Speaker at March Meeting

River Boots Book

Former Pennsylvania Waterways Conservation Officer and Outdoors writer Bob Steiner will be our special guest at the chapter’s March meeting on Wednesday, March 1st at 6:00 pm at the Nimick Center in Ligonier.

Bob is the author of “River Boots, A Fish Warden’s Tales of Pennsylvania Fish and Game Law Enforcement”.

From Amazon: RIVER BOOTS is a career synopsis, a training manual, a history book and one conservation officer’s slightly twisted view of a quarter century in the business. It is a sometimes “belly laughing” look at a profession that can turn deadly serious in a second and can leave tears running down your face from laughter a few minutes later.
The 253 stories in RIVER BOOTS were written for fishermen, hunters, boaters, conservation officers and their deputies, all law enforcement officers and anyone that has an interest in the outdoors.
For conservation officers it is a textbook, with the how-tos and the how-not-tos, the whys and the why-nots. For conservation agency folks, it is a bit of nostalgia with a smirk. Other law enforcement officers will see a little deadly serious, perhaps lifesaving thinking, coupled with a “Barney Miller” attitude. Folks considering a job in the agencies will get an on-the-spot look at what they are asking for and will come away eagerly awaiting their turn to join in.
The license-buying hunter, fisherman or boater will get a firsthand look at how their license fees are spent for the good of the sport, the environment and the fish and game resources. Sorry, no statistics or charts included. You will laugh at the scofflaws and the conservation officers alike. Mostly, like reading “Notes from the Stream” or “Field Notes” produced by our fish and game agencies, you will grin and laugh and ponder.
To answer the question, the RIVER BOOTS were green 10-inch leather boots the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission issued with those snazzy green-and-brown uniforms we wore. They leaked.

Bob will have autographed  books for sale.

Posted in Events

Cabin Fever - February 26, 2023

The 22nd Annual Cabin Fever Expo, sponsored and run by the Penn’s Woods West Chapter of Trout Unlimited, will be held on Sunday February 26th at the Doubletree by Hilton Pittsburgh – Cranberry in Warrendale, PA.

The Cabin Fever Expo has:

  • Nationally known speakers to draw many attendees to the show
  • Over 500 free parking spaces – no paid parking for exhibitors or customers.
  • Over 11,000 square feet of unobstructed space on one floor. A diagram of the 2023 Expo layout can be found on our website to help you determine potential booth locations
  • Regionally known for its quality which drives word-of-mouth advertising in addition to our other promotional efforts
Cabin Fever Flyer
Posted in Youth Education

Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp Accepting Applications

Rivers Conservation Camp Logo

The Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp is accepting applications through February 28, 2023.

The camp runs from June 18th to the 23rd and is held at Messiah University in Grantham, PA (this is near Yellow Breeches Creek in Cumberland County). The camp is open to boys and girls aged 14-17.

FTTU will consider sponsoring at least one student from our local area to attend the camp this year.

For more info, visit the camp website riverscamp.com

If you know of someone who would like to attend, contact us at info@forbestrailtu.org.