Forbes Trail Chapter revs up youth conservation, fly fishing program
Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited is preparing to kick off its 11th annual youth conservation and fly fishing program. It has served a specific goal over the past decade: to get children to pay attention to coldwater conservation and other environmental issues, with an introduction to fly fishing as the hook.
The kids cast for trout and steelhead on outings throughout the year, and learn to tie their own flies, while studying stream ecology, stream health and other subjects.
It has always been — and continues to be — open to boys and girls ages 12-16, regardless of their experience level.
But this year the chapter is trying something new.
“One improvement to our program involves adults. We will now accept a limited number of adults,” spokesman Drew Banas said.
“We've had requests from adults to teach fly fishing to them so we are making adult education a part of our program.”
The club has been debating the change for a while after requests from adults began coming in a couple of years ago, he said. That interest has never waned.
The result is that this year's program, while still youth-centered, will include some adults, too, he added. All participants, regardless of age, will enjoy the same benefits.
The group will meet twice a month at the Loyalhanna Watershed Association's office in Ligonier. Children and adults will learn to tie a new fly at each meeting. They also will hear and learn from local experts in stream ecology, trout behavior, casting, fishing techniques and knot tying.
The group will take some field trips throughout the year, too.
One will involve an electrofishing demonstration on Loyalhanna Creek, aimed at documenting all or most of the 20 species of fish that live in the creek's upper reaches.
There will be time spent fishing, too, on local streams and, later in the year, on Lake Erie's tributaries for steelhead.
The program always has proven popular, Banas said, and the opportunity for a few adults to get involved should only make that more true.
“This is a terrific way to learn to fly fish or to further develop existing skills,” Banas said.