It has probably one of the largest memberships of any sportspersons club in Washington County and is one of the best-kept trout fishing spots for opening day. I should know for I have been a member there since 1960. I am usually found on the grounds at least once a week all year long.
Of course, most of my readers know that I refer to the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club in Linden whose membership this year reaches to about 1,400. There is also a good-sized waiting list to get in.
Would-be members are put through a process after their application, which some say is annoying. But just as I am about to explain, the fishing rules that apply are all about the safety of you and me. I have been a member and been going there almost my whole life, and I am going to attempt to explain why people who like to appear on the stream opening day and complain, camp, litter and then ask why you cannot fish on both sides of Linden as it flows through the club grounds.
Yes, the club owns and maintains both sides of the grounds, but only one side can be fished by non-members. There are clear signs posting the other side to help you avoid any rule breaking and trouble. This rule is highly enforced. The No. 1 reason this side – over the bridge toward the clubhouse – is posted is safety. It is a gun range first and foremost. The pistol range sits near the stream and non-members who bring their small children need to be aware of this fact. I have witnessed many times careless people who don’t seem to pay any attention to the two bottom ranges fishing on the wrong side of this stream with their children in various spots unsupervised on club grounds as I am trying to practice. This is dangerous, and I pay my dues and pass the rigorous club rules, so I know not to shoot when this occurs. Naturally, I will ask the parent if he is a member. When he says no, I’ll explain that he must fish the other side for safety. Sometimes with a good result, sometimes not.
One time I was shooting at the top rifle range when I paused and took off my ear protectors to look at something that caught my eye. It was a guy in blaze orange who was walking behind the backstop. I waved to all the other shooters and we all stopped and put up our guns. As we watched he sauntered across the field directly behind the backstop. When he got across, he was met by a member who then told him where he was. He claimed he didn’t know he was on club grounds.
Today’s clubs must be very vigilant. If there was an accident, then it would be all over the news and reflect badly on the well-meaning club. Hence, the signs posted and the good training.
Then there is the littering. The club members all take turns cleaning up and maintaining the grounds. It is required of new members and drilled into us to take care of the property. One day, I was fishing in a nice hole when I saw a group of kids pull in and start fishing above me on the non-member and member side of the stream. They seemed like a nice group just out for some fishing fun so I moved further away so they could enjoy themselves. I was on the member side. A few minutes passed, then down the stream came a beer can. I fished it out and put it by me. What the heck? They were just kids, I thought. Pretty soon here came another. Then about five minutes later four more and a big splash as one kid fell into the creek. Off I went to oust another group of people who would yell at me and protest their rights. But they were getting drunk underage, littering and swimming in the shallow water during trout season. Members who pay dues have the right to fish the member side of the stream, which is maintained by the members.
Sometimes people ask me about the parking spot on the driveway which is above the gate. It was put there by the membership for the non-members who come along to fish to use. It isn’t that the club doesn’t own that side, its that they want non-members to stay on that side for their safety and the rights of members who have paid their dues for their fishing spot. Linden is a nice little local water, and it is stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish Commission. Hopefully, this article clears up any confusion people have about their fishing rights at Linden Creek that flows through the Dormont-Mt Lebanon Sportsman’s Club.