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Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests 7.29.23

Rock Run 7-29-23
Neither rain nor snow....The mouth of Rock Run looks like a boreal rain forest in this shot from the rainy morning of July 29, 2023.
Linn Run Turbidity
Linn Run running uncharacteristically turbid (fancy word for muddy) after a rainstorm
pH Monitor
Perfect pH 7.0 recorded on this meter.

Citizen Scientists were met with a downpour for monthly water tests at the mouth of Rock Run on July 29. The (much welcome) rain forced a quick sample collection and tests conducted in the pavilion at Adams Falls.

The results:
Air Temperature: 68°F
Water Temperature: 63.5°F
pH: 7.0
Alkalinity: 6.7
Linn Run Gauge: 1.85′
Linn Run Flow: 9.65 ft³/sec

Despite the hottest day of summer on the previous day, Rock Run flows at a trout healthy 63.5 degrees.

Posted in Citizen Science Conservation

Rock Run Water Tests for July 2023

The testers were greeted with heavy rain on the morning of July 1, but the skies soon cleared and they were able to conduct monthly water tests at the mouth of Rock Run.

The storm raised water levels from 1.9′ to 2.0′ in less than an hour and with additional rain later in the day peaked at 3.93′ with a flow rate of 565 ft.3/sec at 9:30 pm.

Wow!

Here’s the test results as of 10:30 am, Saturday, July 1:

Air Temperature: 65°F
Water Temperature: 59.5°F
pH: 7.0
Alkalinity: 7.7
Linn Run Gauge: 2.0′
Linn Run Discharge: 13 ft³./sec

Alkalinity was surprisingly good considering the influx of rain water.

Afterwards, we went up to the headwaters and checked on the limestone sand that was placed in the stream last year.
It is estimated that 90% has been washed down into the stream. We shoveled the remaining sand in closer to the water.

Linn Run Turbidity
Linn Run running uncharacteristically turbid (fancy word for muddy) after a rainstorm
Limestone
Remaining limestone at one of three sites in the Rock Run headwaters
Shoveling limestone
Shoveling remaining limestone in closer to the stream
Linn Run Storm
A break in the clouds after a downpour at Linn Run State Park
Posted in Chapter Business

CORRECTION

Please note that if you receive the PA Trout newsletter in the mail or view it on-line, the report for our chapter is incorrect. At the end of the report, it inaccurately mentions a picnic for July 16 at the Kingston Sportsmen’s Club. There is no chapter picnic this year. We had a banquet for our 50th anniversary, and will not have a picnic this summer.

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests For June

Rhodadendron
Rhododendron is in bloom along Linn Run

Monthly water tests were conducted at the mouth of Rock Run on Saturday, June 3.

Water Temperature – 57.5°F
Air Temperature – 66°F
pH – 7.2
Alkalinity – 6.1
Linn Run Gauge – 1.65′
Linn Run Discharge – 3.54 ft³/sec

Hot, dry weather has come early to the Laurel Highlands this year, however, there was a lower flow recorded in June of 2020 when the Linn Run gauge was at 1.42′. Some rain would be nice though.

Posted in Events Veterans

Veteran's and First Responder's Fishing Day Registration Now Open

Our Veteran’s Fishing Day date has been announced for Saturday, September 16, 2023 and registration is now open. This year, we are opening the event to First Responders as well.

You must register to participate.

To register, go to the Veteran’s and First Responders Fishing Day page, fill out and submit the form. We will email you with confirmation.

Posted in Youth Education

Trout Unlimited Assists Local Youth with 4-H Project

4H_02
Luke instructing how to tie a half-hitch knot to secure a fly pattern
4H_01
TU instructor Scott Minster teaching students how to use an ID chart to identify macroinvertebrates
4H_03
TU instructor Milt Claney teaching students the sequential steps for tying a “Green Weenie” pattern
4H_04
TU instructor Rod Cross demonstrating a back cast before each student practiced with a rod

Luke Sanner, a dual-enrolled junior, and the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited celebrated Earth Day working on Luke’s 4-H project.  Luke completed the requirements for his Diamond 4-H project with a hands-on education program at Rotary Park in Latrobe.  The program included an introduction for other 4-H members to stream ecology, macroinvertebrate (trout bugs) identification, fly tying and casting.  Luke, along with eight instructors from Forbes Trail taught the various activities.  As part of the Earth Day program, TU volunteers picked up litter along Loyalhana Creek earlier in the week when the weather was more cooperative.   

The macroinvertebrates were collected in nets in the adjacent Nine Mile Run and included mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, crayfish, beetles, cranefly larva and dragonfly nymphs.  The students, using ID charts, identified each of the critters before releasing them unharmed back into the stream.  The students also learned about the value of riparian buffers to protect the stream from runoff of pollutants such as fertilizers from the golf course and the value of tall trees to provide shade to keep the water cool.  

One of the 4-H students whose family operates a farm, explained how they follow Best Management Practices to protect their pond and stream.  By allowing high grasses and brush to grow along the pond and stream banks, they prevent runoff of cow manure.  And fences along the stream prevent the cattle from causing bank erosion.

TU mentors explained how the fly patterns they were learning to tie were to imitate some of the trout bugs they caught in the stream.   Luke demonstrated tying a slightly more complex pattern and presented each of the students with a plastic fly box to store their tied flies.  The students also got to try casting a fly rod, which was a little challenging fighting rain showers and heavy winds.

Luke and his family are members of Trout Unlimited and have supported many of TU’s activities and functions.  Forbes Trail sponsored Luke at the Rivers Conservation and Fly-Fishing Youth Camp at Messiah College in June of 2022.  Luke’s interest in stream ecology and macroinvertebrates sparked when assisting Forbes Trail with the study of Linn Run in 2021 to develop a Coldwater Conservation Plan for the stream.  The Chapter considers Luke one of their rising stars who will one day lead the organization and help protect our trout streams.  Congratulations Luke on your many achievements! 

Posted in Citizen Science Rock Run

Rock Run Water Tests 4-29-23

RR_4-29-23
Rock Run April 29, 2023

Here’s the results of water quality tests at the mouth of Rock Run on April 29, 2023.

Air Temperature: 54°
Water Temperature: 48°
Linn Run Gauge: 1.97′
Linn Run Discharge: 15.5 ft³/sec
pH: 7.45
Alkalinity: 5.0

Posted in Events Youth Education

FTTU Assists with 2023 Envirothon

Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited was invited to participate in this year’s Westmoreland County Envirothon at Twin Lakes Park in Hempfield Township.  Westmoreland Conservation District organizes the annual event and seeks local businesses to help sponsor it.  One hundred and twenty-five students were tested on their knowledge of Current Issues, Aquatics, Forestry, Wildlife and Soils.  Trout Unlimited provided a separate station where students learned to cast a fly rod and tie a trout bug pattern called a Green Weenie, designed by a former Forbes Trail tying instructor Ken Igo.  

Groups of 20-25 students spent 30 minutes at each of the stations being tested on what they’ve learned in each of the subjects.  Some school districts provided up to three teams.  Each team consisted of five students who would collaborate on the tests.  TU teaches coldwater conservation, fly tying and fly casting in schools, to scout groups and to adults on a regular basis.  They even take classes of students on local fly fishing field trips.  

The Envirothon is quite different.  It’s like speed dating where instructors have just 30 minutes to teach a very concentrated lesson on either tying or casting.  A group of ten students would sit at a table with a vice, tools and materials and follow along as an instructor explained the tying process step-by-step.  Most of the students produced a final product that any trout would chase.

Another group of ten would watch a casting demonstration by experienced castors, then grab a fly rod and try to emulate the instructors.  The students were taught the “back cast” and “roll cast”, the two most common casts used on trout streams.  Students eventually learned the hand placement on the rod, line control and the arm rhythm to where they could hit their target…most of the time.  For many of the students, this was their first exposure to fly tying and casting, which was TU’s intent…plant a seed and watch it grow.

Envirothon_1
Instructors Milt Claney and Joe Bilotta teach how to tie the Green Weenie.
Envirothon_2
Casting instructors Jim Litrun and Ron Rodgers explain the techniques of the back cast.
Posted in Conservation Loyalhanna Creek

Trout Unlimited Clears Litter Along Loyalhanna Creek

Teams of Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited worked at three locations to pick up litter along the banks of the Loyalhanna on Tuesday, April 18.  The section of stream in Ligonier is designated by the PA Fish & Boat Commission as both Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) and a PA Select Stream.  And Trout Unlimited has included it in their top ten premier trout streams in their Laurel Highlands Trout Trail program.  In other words, it’s a very special trout stream because of its natural beauty and superior water quality.  Unfortunately, a few thoughtless people continue to ignore the charm of the stream and leave their drink bottles, candy wrappers and bait containers scattered along the trails and banks.

As part of the annual Great American Cleanup of PA and Great Ligonier Valley Cleanup, Forbes Trail partnered with Loyalhanna Watershed Association to pick up trash along the DHALO section, around the causeway at Sleepy Hollow and on Mission Road in Latrobe.  Fortunately, it’s a very tiny percentage of the general public who still refuse to manage their wastes properly.  And more than likely the same slobs that throw their trash in the same locations every year.  TU encourages angler to leave absolutely no trace other than boot prints.  And in fact, anglers are asked to carry a bag to pick up trash left by others, leaving the stream banks even cleaner than they find them.

The teams picked up 20 bags of trash and one lawn chair.  The most unusual find was a garter snake trying to stay warm inside a discarded bed pillow.  They had to clean an illegal dump where someone, possibly a local resident, dumped garbage over the hillside, directly across the stream from the Giant Eagle supermarket.  Residents are asked to report illegal dumpers to the PA State Police or Keep PA Beautiful.  Littering in PA carries a fine of up to $300.  It’s only a few careless people causing the problem.  Do your part to report them.  It’s your tax dollars that pay Penn DOT to pick up and dispose of all the littler collected along the highways and streams.  We can find better ways to celebrate Earth Day than picking up trash left by a few thoughtless litterbugs!

Clean-up 1
Picking up trash along Mission Road in Latrobe
Clean-up2
This garter snake came out to say “thanks for cleaning up my neighborhood!”
Clean-Up 3
Mission Road crew L-R Ron Miller, Bill Simogyi and Angela Schultheis
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.