Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association members, including (seated, above, from left) Rusty Bennett, David Krafjack, and Kyle Ziegler welcomed dozens of first day trout fishers to Forkston Corners on April 14 and shared with them their plans for further stream mitigation and aquatic habitat projects. Proudly displaying their catch before heading home to Scranton and Dickson City on April 14 were (top, from left) Matt Skrobiszewski, Austin Wonbacker, and Tom, Stephanie, and Tony Skrobiszewski.
Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)
Brilliant sunshine and warmer weather helped draw anglers in near record numbers on Saturday to Forkston Corners, where the North Branch Mehoopany Creek tumbles into the main stem of Mehoopany Creek. Members of the Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association (MCWA) were there to greet them with hot coffee and donuts, hot dogs and other snacks for the first day of trout season. Most noticeable to them were a larger number of youths fishing with parents and grandparents, as well as full stringers of fish.
“A lot of people caught fish this morning,” said Dan Lukasavage (below, right) of Forkston. He and his daughter, Sam, who had driven up from Swoyersville to join him, had just moved into a spot along the north branch that had already proven lucky for a family of six. “They all caught their limits and left.” In addition to some fish, the two of them also saw a beaver.
Laceyville buddies Frank Walter, Bob Williams and Colin Gross were also fairing well by mid morning with several trout each on their stringers. They credited the success of the day in large part to the MCWA, which has overseen several stream stabilization projects over the years and enhancements of habitat.
“What they’ve done to this creek is a miracle,” said Gross (below, left). “A lot more people fish here now.” Gross and Walter (below, right) were just downstream from a man-made spillway that Colin indicated creates a deep pool for trout to lay in. Similar work, including a riparian buffer, has been conducted along Windy Valley Road south of Route 87. The site routinely attracts anglers from the Wyoming Valley, the Poconos and beyond.
The MCWA’s efforts kicked into high gear after severe flooding in 2011 not only scoured the stream bed but left behind debris that greatly limited access to the creek. Large, quarry-hewn stones were brought in and strategically placed to slow the current and provide pockets of constantly aerated water that is healthy for aquatic life and attractive to both fish and those who like to catch them.
More improvements are on the way, according to MCWA president Kyle Ziegler, this time a little further downstream at Roger Hollow. Newly installed “wing dams” will result in a greater divergence of the current to hold the banks together and promote healthier conditions for both plants and fish. The work will be done in three phases, Ziegler explained, not including the time put into acquiring permits and getting contractors lined up. In particular, this $400,000 project required a dual permit from DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The wheels of government turn slowly, but we’re moving forward,” Ziegler reported. Nonetheless, the permitting and bidding process start over with each new phase. The best case scenario, Ziegler related, would be to see this project completed within five years.
In addition to setting up tents and selling food each April, MCWA representatives will take part in the North Branch Trout Derby at Lovelton on Saturday, May 19. the purpose is not just for fundraising but also for visibility. New members are always welcome.