Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Go East, Young Man

Fish like this stout wild Pennsylvania brown trout have helped TU staffer Chad Chorney’s transition from the West to the East.

By R. Chad Chorney

“What? You’re moving from Idaho to Pennsylvania? Why would you ever do that?”

I can’t tell you how many times I received that reaction from friends and colleagues when I informed them that I was leaving Idaho and heading back east. It didn’t matter that I was from upstate New York and studied fisheries biology at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, or that the majority of my family still resided on the East coast.

Folks just couldn’t believe that I would leave the mountains, wide-open spaces, and blue ribbon trout fishing found in Idaho and move to a state like Pennsylvania.

Why would I do such a thing?

Well, truth be told, family was a part of my decision. I missed my parents, my sisters, and my half dozen nieces and nephews. For over a decade while I lived in Idaho, I was the son/brother/uncle who visited twice a year. While I cherished those visits, I wanted to spend more time with my family and be more involved in their daily lives.

Since moving back East, I’ve been able to take a niece and nephew on our first fishing outing together, and I spent five days fishing with my father in Canada. I’ve been able to attend a bunch of softball, baseball and soccer games. And I’ve been home for Mother’s Day and couple of birthdays. To me, that’s worth the move right there.

Just as important, I’ve continued my career at Trout Unlimited, working and living in the areas that I grew up fishing and hunting. If it were not for waters like Catherine Creek in New York and Fishing Creek in Pennsylvania, who knows how my life might have turned out.

Those streams, and many like them, fostered my passion for fishing, wild trout and the places they lived. That passion led me to TU, where I’ve worked for the last six years, doing my part to protect wild trout and their habitat.

Chad Chorney recently moved from Idaho to Pennsylvania. There are some big brown trout in Chorney’s home state, but this one came during his travels to Chile.

Just last week, I joined several TU staff and volunteers in Southeast Pennsylvania. Accompanied by a filmmaker who was documenting local trout streams and the work involved with finding wild trout populations on previously un-assessed waters, we spent two days following leads and searching out new locations, then electrofishing stream sections following scientific protocol.

Despite the unknown, ticks, and unseasonable heat, we managed to find a number of wild trout in a small tributary of a local stream, perhaps documenting them officially for the first time.

During those two days, it struck me that no matter where I lived my passion for clean water, wild trout, and unspoiled habitat will never change. And East or West, TU is blessed to have such dedicated volunteers and staff who share that same passion.

Our last electrofishing location was a small, brush-choked stream that paralleled a local hiking path. The water remained cool despite the heat, shaded by a dense, healthy riparian zone. Several riffles, pools and logjams were visible as we walked to the stream, and the water simply looked “fishy.”

Minutes after we began sampling, we found a handful of brown trout of varying age classes, indicative of a wild population. When I cradled a gorgeous 7-inch brown in my hands, and marveled at its vivid spots and colors, I thought to myself “It’s nice to be back home.”

Chad Chorney is Trout Unlimited’s mid-Atlantic organizer. Previously he the Big Wood River project manager in Idaho.

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.