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About OCTU

The History of the Oil Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited

  • Founded in 1983. First meeting held in Cochranton.
  • Since 1987, regular meetings have been held nine months of the year. They have been at the Franklin and Oil City libraries, Two Mile Run County Park, and streamside at Oil Creek State Park.
  • Meetings are currently held September through April at King’s Restaurant, on route 8 between Franklin and Oil City. Dinner is at 5:00 P.M., the meeting at 6:30 P.M. and a free program at 7:30 P.M. The May meeting is held streamside at Petroleum Center on Oil Creek.
  • The meetings have included numerous information, conservation and fishing programs.
  • The first annual fund-raising banquets were held at Bonanza Restaurant in Franklin, moved to the Franklin Elks’ for a year or two, then moved to the Franklin Club in 1988, and presently is held at the Quality Inn & Conference center Franklin Pa. Tom and Elaine Young and their daughter Jennifer (Young) Lyons have chaired all but one or two of these banquets from the beginning until 2004. Scott & Kim Wilson were banquet chairs from 2004 – 2008. Tom Young returned to that rein in 2009.
  • The chapter annually sent representatives to state, national and other TU meetings and training.
  • Membership peaked at 165 in 1991 and 1992 and included a member from South Africa.


  • OCTU has funded one-third of a $1,000 Clarion University Scholarship since 1990.
  • Placed “Trout” magazine in three public libraries and 11 middle and high school libraries in Venango County since 1990.
  • Ran an essay and poster contest for Venango County schools, with $300 in prizes.
  • Sent high school students to the Penn State Conservation Leadership School and Rivers Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp since 1993.
  • Regularly funded members’ attendance at trout rearing, environmental assessment and action training.
  • Has regularly participated by providing displays and instructors on conservation and fishing at Youth Field Days, the chapter’s Annual Open House, our Youth Fishing Day, Oil Creek State Park Fish-for-Free Day, and National Hunting and Fishing Day festivities.
  • Has set up displays at the Titusville, Franklin and Cranberry Sport Shows.
  • Assisted funding a teenage Science Ambassador.
  • Provided fly tying gear for students at Maplewood High School, Cranberry and Sugar Creek elementary schools.
  • Sent a member to Lady Fly Fishers Leadership Training.


  • Has regularly participated in and bought landowner tickets for the annual Venango County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Landowner Appreciation Dinner. • Actively belongs to the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.
  • Elaine Young represented OCTU for 10 years on the Venango County Conservation District Board.
  • Linda Steiner held the OCTU seat for 10 years on the Two Mile Run County Park Board.
  • Annually participated in the Big Uncle Day for persons with disabilities.
  • Annually participated in Polk Center Fishing events for special populations.
  • Taught blind, 20-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran to fly fish.


  • OCTU Past President Larry Myers went on to serve on PATU's board of directors and in 1995 served as PATU Council president.
  • Vaughn MacGregor served on the PATU Environmental Committee.
  • OCTU hosted the 1992 spring convention of PA Trout Unlimited at the Inn at Franklin the same weekend as the chapter banquet.


  • Published a newsletter since 1988.
  • Editors have been Bob and Linda Steiner, Jennifer Lyons, Carroll Harris, Valerie Tarkowski, and Jodi and Dave Donze.
  • “The Gusher” title and logo designed by Scott Wilson in 1989.
  • 1989 OCTU board voted to publish the newsletter on recycled paper.
  • Presented many “Trail of the Gold Trout” lectures for TU Chapters in Ohio and Pa.
  • Published 4,000-5,000 copies of “Venango County Fishing Brochure” for tourism use.


  • 1985 took over operation responsibilities of Polk raceway from Massasaugua Chapter.
  • 1985-2000 raised tens of thousands of trout at six cooperative raceways: Polk, Borger, Baker, Moon, Bump and Two Mile Run County Park. Many years the chapter lost thousands of trout to water quantity problems and received replacement fish in fall; this led to dropping out of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission’s Cooperative Nursery program.
  • Built, cleaned and maintained raceways and ponds, float stocking boxes and transportation tanks, nets and other necessary gear.
  • Sold support buttons in conjunction with two other Venango County clubs that raised fish to gain additional funding for local trout stocking program.
  • Assisted the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission and other clubs in stocking with transportation boxes and float boxes.
  • 1988-1993 tagged hundreds of trout for release in Oil, Little Sandy, Hemlock and Sugar creeks and monitored their movement through tag reporting.
  • Stocked early spring and fall to lengthen trout season.
  • Worked with 3CU (Erie County) to further provide fish to Venango County streams.
  • Stocked many area streams with emphasis on Oil Creek DHALO and Little Sandy FFO/DHFFO.
  • Provided trout for youngsters and special population fishing events.


  • Held annual Christmas Party at area restaurants and tureen dinners at Two Mile Run County Park.
  • Held an annual family picnic at Oil Creek Camp Resort for 10 years.
  • 1988-2001 held annual Caddis Hatch Breakfast at the Bob and Linda Steiners’ “Sugar Creek Lodge.”
  • Held a Mayfly Dinner at Don and Linda Wilson’s home on Sugar Creek.
  • Fished competitively in a three fly fish-offs with the Ohio-based FFF at Oil Creek.
  • Organized group fishing trips throughout Pennsylvania.
  • Maintained a video library of conservation issues and fishing techniques and opportunities throughout the 1990s.


  • Massasaugua Chapter folds and OCTU is “bequeathed” its money and membership.
  • Has received $400 and larger grants and donations from C&K Coal, Walmart, Mark Resources, Butter Krust Baking, Scrubgrass Power Plant, Western Reserve Chapter of TU, PATU, Venango County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, WREN and the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, and a $22,000 grant from the Fish America Fund.


  • 1988 began stream improvement work with five full days building a jack dam, mudsills, channel blocks and deflectors.
  • 1990 built more channel blocks and decked bridge at the Pump Station.
  • Petitioned the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to change the special regulation area from Fly Fishing Only to Delayed Harvest Fly Fishing Only. Passed.
  • Acquired 10 triaxle trailer loads of barn stone for future work and device rehabilitation, all above the railroad trestle. Held eight work days, plus hired four workers for one week.
  • Actively sought and received a “No Spray Corridor” designation for Little Sandy during gypsy moth spraying,
  • 1991 Formed watchdog committee on Little Sandy headwaters mining application.
  • 1992 OCTU sought Exceptional Value designation for Little Sandy and tried to have the watershed declared unsuitable for mining. Spent $2,000 in attorney fees preparing paperwork. Spoke on mine threat to the creek in Ohio and surrounding chapters and clubs. Mining permit was issued by DEP, but the permit was called the “most restrictive ever.”
  • 1993 worked to stop the Pennsylvania Dept. of General Services from selling the Little Sandy project water to the private sector. Encouraged the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to acquire. Rehabilitated stream habitat.
  • 1994 Little Sandy receives High Quality Cold Water Fishery designation. Mine monitoring continues; also device maintenance.
  • 1995-2000 device maintenance, regularly maintain posters. Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission acquires Little Sandy, DHFFO. Operation of mine closes with no noticeable environmental damage to stream.
  • 2002-03 installed deflectors downstream of Route 62.


  • 1989 hired heavy equipment and obtained 500 to 1,000 tons of rock donated for seven stream improvement devices and bank stabilization. Planted 1,000 willows.
  • 1990 did bank stabilization project below Route 322. Did one mile of stream bank fencing at the Mitchell farm, north of Cooperstown.
  • 1991 did in-stream boulder placement with several dump truck loads of boulders.
  • 1996 took active part in issuance of IA Construction gravel mine permit after flood problems.


  • 1988 began pursuing first DHALO for Oil Creek, one mile of creek from Petroleum Center in Oil Creek State Park, downstream to railroad bridge.
  • 1989 DHALO goes into effect. State Representative Ron Black stocks first bucket of fish in the new project.
  • 1990 cleared streamside access paths to DHALO. OCTU survey shows 4,000 fishermen days on DHALO tallied the first year. An additional fisherman expenditure survey conducted by Oil Creek Outfitters for OCTU.
  • Paid for and installed four fisherman benches built by Oil Creek State Park.
  • Built fisherman parking lot at the “tin buildings” in Oil Creek State Park with donations from Kraft and Klapec.
  • 1991 requested fall stocking for DHALO from Pa. Fish and Boat Commission.
  • 1992 continued to maintain posters and benches. Cut new trails to the lower end of the DHALO project.
  • 1994 OCTU members start the process for improving spring runs on Oil Creek. Met with Pa. Fish and Boat Commission on same.
  • 1995 Wildcat Run improved by Venango Vo-Tech & OCTU donation of materials.
  • 1998 requested DHALO at Drake Well Museum property; proposal discussed at public meetings.
  • 1999 Upper DHALO goes in effect at Drake Well, from the car bridge downstream, about 1 mile. Upstream post painted, placed and maintained.
  • 2002 placed Joe Carroll Memorial at Oil Creek State Park.


  • 1989 first and second acid mine drainage treatment cattail marshes built with financial and physical aid of Venango County Conservation District and State Representative Ron Black. Equipment donated by Mark Resources. Pete Lindsay and Linda Steiner wrote Fish America Fund Grant and receive $22,000 for second phase. Third marsh completed.
  • 1990 seeded all Williams Run marshes with wetland seeds. Added two triaxle trailer loads of lime to marshes.
  • 1991 worked with Venango County Conservation District to secure 70 tons of lime and four truck loads of manure; applied by shovel to marshes.
  • 1992 shoveling continues on work days.
  • 1998-99 applied for and receive a grant for Mackin engineering study of Little Sandy and tributaries.
  • 1992 - 2002 periodic monitoring and meetings to identify continued problems and possible remedies to mine acid drainage and cleanup of problems from unpermitted experimental dumping of alkali liquor at marshes.


  • Worked to return Big Sandy and East Sandy to Approved Trout Stocking list.
  • Identified and assisted grant process in plugging East Sandy oil wells.
  • Took active role in preventing liming device being abandoned on Little Scrugrass Creek when mine went bankrupt.
  • Planted pines and willows at Benninghoff Run in Oil Creek State Park after railroad trestle abutment repair.
  • Litter pickup along Hemlock and Porcupine creeks.
  • Water monitoring on Pithole Creek.
  • Requested fingerling stocking of lower Big Sandy from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Refused.
  • 1994-present, worked with Venango County Conservation District in identifying and prioritizing dirt road runoff in all of Venango County.
  • 1992 Porcupine Creek receives High Quality designation at chapter request. OCTU takes active interest in Allegheny National Forest land and watershed management plan.
  • 1994 OCTU pushes and gets Hemlock and Porcupine creeks upgraded to Exceptional Value.
  • 1992-1994 OCTU actively pushes acquisition of President Oil Lands by Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to protect Hemlock and Porcupine creek drainages. Members gave testimony at repeated hearings. Property purchased; subsequently sold to a timber company but with conservation/recreation easements in place.
  • 1995 – present, “Adopt a Highway” litter pickup on Rt. 62 at Little Sandy Creek project.
  • Members built many of our raceways, transport boxes and units, a trailer, display boxes, video cabinet, easels etc. over the last 20 years to hold down chapter expenses.


  • Guided members of Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association on Oil Creek DHALO and provided fly fishinhg model (Jen Young Lyons) for photo opportunities.
  • OCTU featured on Venango Video.
  • OCTU cattail marsh project featured on WPIX Pittsburgh TV for two minutes at 6 p.m.
  • OCTU featured on “Earth Day” special on Pennsylvania Public Television for cattail marsh work.
  • Featured on ESPN “Fly Fishing America” on Oil and Big Sandy creeks.
  • Featured in Pennsylvania Angler & Boater and Pennsylvania Wildlife magazines for cattail marsh project and Little Sandy Creek stream improvement.
  • Numerous local, Pittsburgh and Erie newspaper articles on various aspects of OCTU activity.


  • 1989 received “Gold Trout,” best TU chapter of 450 worldwide.
  • 1990 received “Silver Trout,” best chapter in Northeast US and Canada. Pennsylvania Council Chapter of the Year, as best of state. Second place award for “Take Pride in Pennsylvania” for projects. Best National Membership Increase for 1990.
  • 1991, member Bob Steiner named PATU’s “Outstanding Professional Conservationist.”
  • 1992, member Linda Steiner named PATU' “Outstanding Member Conservationist.”
  • 1992, The “Gusher” newsletter receives PATU’s “Sam Slaymaker Award,” honoring best chapter newsletter in state.


  • Accompany grant applications to show long-term commitment.
  • Use as membership development tool.
  • Solicit community support and donations.
  • Educate new members
  • Provide easily referenced record for members/board/officers.


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