Youth Programs Offered
Inside the Outdoors, November 20,

Both Forbes Trail Chapter Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Game Commission have reached out to youth to further educate them concerning environmental concerns and the sport that has introduced them to the great outdoors.

It was back in February when the FTTU capped off its Forbes Trail Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing program reaching out to teens 13 to 15 years of age. Both young and some older adults included learned fly tying and casting, knot tying, stream ecology, and trout behavior.

“We did a macroinvertebrate study on Loyalhanna Creek and an electro-fishing survey on Mill Creek,” stated Scott Minster, secretary of the Latrobe-based organization.

“We then started out with a steelhead introductory meeting and fly tying session October 8. They first learned about the Lake Erie fishery. Youth were then taught about what flies would work catching steelhead trout and were given instructions how to tie the various patterns,” he said. Choice of flies were glo bugs, sucker spawn and Christmas tree caddis imitations.

But that was just the beginning. What was to follow would spike every kid’s adrenaline not to mention the mentors, as well.

Following the end of the instruction period, recently, it was then off to Lake Erie where the youth would experience first hand not only how to fish for these sought after species, but use their flies to do so. That in itself had to be a rush.

It was up to the parents of each child to get their children to a meeting place by 6 a.m. at a hotel near Elk Creek. All together, six kids and two adults involved in the program made the trip. There was an additional five adults who were allowed making the journey with the organization.

It was at this hotel, they would eat breakfast. FTTU saw to it that a block of rooms was reserved for these young area anglers, their parents and any fishers joining them to stay.

After the meal, they motored to Folley’s End Campground where they rendezvoused. It was located right on Elk Creek. “The owners were kind enough to allow them to park in the campground and use this area as a gathering spot to get waders on and rods rigged up and so forth and so on,” stated Minster.

“The youth were accompanied by a parent then paired up with an FTTU member. This year, we had a one to one ratio of kids to mentors,” he stated. In addition, five adults were allowed to make the trip.

To insure greater probability of catching fish, each youth received some flies tied by members to augment their supply for the day. “We covered water both upstream and downstream of Folley’s about a mile distance total,” Minster stated.

And what were the duties of the mentors who helped the youth that day?

According to Minster who not only has been with FTTU for many years, but an avid fly fisher himself, “Mentors instructed the kids in reading the water, scouting for steelhead, fly casting with heavy rigs, safety and angling courtesy, and playing and landing fish.”

And here is the answer to the question most are waiting for. Did the youth accomplish what they set out to do – catch any fish?

“Most if not all of the kids hooked a steelhead,” Minster stated. “On the other hand, landing one of these powerful fish is another story, though, and most of the big ones got away.”

One has to look on the brighter side to each story such as this. First, their flies did work, and second, “they did experience the fight of a truly large trout.” Most of the fish averaged six pounds.

“I think we did pretty well considering conditions were less than ideal. A lack of rain in late summer and early fall prevented a good run of steelhead to upstream locations. Folley’s is located several miles upstream from the lake,” he stated.

Minster added, “One of the adults hooked six and landed two and one of our boys who’d been through the program before hooked and landed multiple fish.”

“And what flies were the fish hitting,” someone may pose the question? “The hot flies included orange glo bugs, the Christmas tree caddis and regular trout regulars such as the pheasant tail or hares ear nymphs,” Minster noted.


The Mentored Youth Programs are apparently on the rise, according to the PGC.

“Mentored youth hunters now may pursue rabbits and mourning doves, in addition to other selected species.”

Both species have open seasons now until Nov. 28, and then resume Dec. 26.

Mentored youth hunters must obtain a $2.70 permit prior to heading afield. Mentored youth gunning for doves must obtain a migratory game bird license for $3.70 and $6.70 for non-residents.

Check with the PGC for further details at 724-238-9523.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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