Hatches Better In Latrobe
Inside the Outdoors, March 25
, 2011

If you are going fly fishing in our neck of the woods and are picking the Loyalhanna Creek, I have some interesting news for you. According to Rich Rohrbaugh of The Angler’s Room, fly fishing is better in the Latrobe area than it is around Ligonier.

That should be exciting for the local anglers who know and love the stream.

I can understand that to a certain point, because last year, I sent a gentleman to do pH testing at three spots, Sleepy Hollow crossover, Harrison Avenue where Creekside Path begins and then down at the trestle. What resulted was that the water tested out better at the trestle than any other place. At first, I was somewhat in question about that until I concluded that the efforts of the Coalition to Clean Up Loyalhanna Creek manifested itself resulting in cleaner water and a healthier ecosystem.

In any case, above Kingston Dam that parallels the Rt. 217 bridge, up to Ligonier, for some reason, there is a decrease in bug populations. The worst place where the ecosystem has been affected is just below the swinging bridge in the Delayed Harvest Area. However, hatches at Rt. 381 are very much the opposite and observers have seen an abundance of flies coming off there.

“The absolute worst place to find any fly life in Ligonier is in the Delayed Harvest Area,” Rohrbaugh said.

“Right now, the stream is pretty sterile, he said, but with the coming of city sewage, it will get better. So you are going to find your better hatches in the Latrobe area,” he said.

Loyalhanna Creek, as you may know, is an approved trout water. This extends from Ligonier all the way down to the third bridge outside of Latrobe proper. This means there is not only a good amount of water to catch trout, but the availability of flies as well. Fly fishermen should not just think these morsels of goodness are found in a very small area, but through the miles of waterways that are very fishable. A matter of fact, one may be able to catch trout all the way down to and including Loyalhanna Dam.

It’s hard to believe it, but flies are out now in the chill of the air. Only if it gets too cold will they disappear temporarily, but you can bet your bottom dollar, they will return.

So, what flies will be out and about come opening day trout season? According to Rohrbaugh, fly tiers should be concentrating on black stone and the Quill Gordon flies as well as the little olive caddis imitations.

Since there will be a certain amount of rain runoff, there are some very simple worm patterns one can tie to look like worms. The San Juan Worm is one of them. All it takes is a short piece of red chenille tied once to a hook. How simple is that?

I will tell you this. Ever since I learned how to tie a fly or two, I did catch a trout at Paddy’s hole. That backs up what Rohrbaugh told me recently that “The hatches ARE better in Latrobe.”

On another note, two Waterways Conservation Officers serving our area have recently made the news. Emil Svetahor, after putting in 27 years with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, retired March 18. In talking to him recently, he told me he got his start in Armstrong County, starting in 1985. He worked there until 1991. After that, he served three years with Indiana County before going to Somerset County where he headed up the Southwest Region of the PFBC.

“What are you going to do now that you are retired,” I asked. “I plan to take a bunch of trips, hunt, fish and trap and see where life leads me.” I questioned him who would be taking his place. He said Tom Qualters would be acting manager until someone more permanent could be found.

With the leaving of Ron Evancho, the Somerset office now has a new WCO. Tom Crist grew up in Fayette County, and after graduating from the academy, he was assigned to Green County. He then was transferred to Westmoreland County where he is serving presently. Svetahor related that his efforts in public relations, law enforcement and care of the environment make him a well-balanced officer. “He does it all well,” Svetahor said.

Crist, his wife, Mikki, and their seven-month old daughter reside in Fayette County.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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