Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Why we fish: Tom McGuane

“We have reached the time in the life of the planet and humanities demands upon it when every fisherman will have to be a river keeper, a steward of marine shallows and a watchman on the high seas. We are beyond having to put back what we have taken out. We must put back more than we take out. We must make holy war on the enemies of aquatic life as we have gillnetters, polluters and drainers of wetlands. Otherwise, as you have already learned, these creatures will continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We will lose as much as we have already lost already and there will be next to nothing, remnant populations, put-and-take, dim bulbs following the tank truck.”  –Tom McGuane writing in the Some Remarks section of his outstanding book The Longest Silence.

Conservation and the fly-fishing business

A call to action

A recent post on Moldy Chum challenged fly-fishing businesses to step up their game when it comes to conservation:

I would challenge our industry to use its resources to be even stronger advocates for the environment. If we lend the weight of our industry to the environmental causes that are crucial to the health of our planet, it will also be good for the bottom line.”

That notion was echoed by Sam Snyder on his Headwaters blog:

The future of our fisheries depend upon diverse communities, diverse fisheries, and diverse thinking. If you cherish your habit, religion, sport, or whatever you want to call it, I am inclined to say that you have no business in this sport if you don’t take conservation seriously.”

Conservation creates recreational opportunity that translates into economic activity. It’s really that simple.

If you work in the fly-fishing industry you get it. You see it every day, whether you are on the water or in the shop or in the factory. Your bottom line depends on the health of the watersheds your customers visit with your products in hand.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands this vital equation. But those in the media who do are laying the importance of protecting the environment at the feet of sportsmen and women who MUST come around, especially if they hope to pass their sporting heritage down to coming generations (your future customers, mind you).

For instance:

  • Bob Marshal warned us, This will be the year that will test the commitment of the outdoors community.
  • Hal Herring took up the battle cry when he wrote, Are There Any Politicians Who Really Understand Sportsmen’s Concerns?
  • Kirk Deeter added his voice in, Should Conservation Be a Political Issue? and then sounded the alarm loud and strong by writing, Proposed Conservation Funding Cuts Could Devastate Fly Fishing Resources.
  • Will you lend a hand or sit back and wait for others to take action?

    As someone who has spent 20 years incorporating my love for fly-fishing into my conservation advocacy work, I strongly believe our industry can make a difference in the conservation challenges facing our country and our businesses. If that is going to happen, then those of us in the fly-fishing business are going to have to get involved.

    Sure, everybody says “we” need to do something. Problem is, all too often that “we” really means “they.”  So I am putting me in for the we this time.

    In order to help organize that collective weight of our industry, I am compiling and coordinating a group of men and women in the fly-fishing business who will give voice and personality to local, regional and national conservation challenges.

    You understand first-hand the economic benefit that outdoor recreation provides to small businesses, many of them in rural areas where economic benefits are hard to find or come at a high price to the lands and waters.

    If you are in the fly-fishing business I want you to be part of that group and one of those voices.

    What can you do?

    It is really pretty simple, and won’t take a lot of your time.

    There are a number of conservation challenges coming our way. It is my business to keep track of them and work with conservation groups to create advocacy messages to respond to them.

    When an opportunity arises to author an op-ed or letter to the editor, sign on to an advertisement, speak with a reporter or blogger, or take other action, I will contact you so that your voice can be included in the conservation discussions. It will be my job to create the message—your time commitment will be minimal.

    Each opportunity will always be permission-based and voluntary. You will always have the opportunity to decide if you want to participate.

    As someone in the business, you offer a unique perspective on conservation challenges and I hope you will be willing to help.

    This is a collaborative process; your questions, thoughts and suggestions are most welcome!

    If you are interested leave a comment and I will follow up with you.


    If you have no idea who Martin “Donny” Donovan is I won’t be surprised. I had know idea who he was either.

    Donovan has written a book called KEEPER. And unless you have Departure Publishing or Tosh Brown in you Facebook universe you may not have heard of KEEPER either.

    Well as it happens Brown is a friend on Facebook. He posted  a status update the other day:”Watch the Departure Publishing page at 10:30AM and snag a free copy of our new book release, KEEPER, by Martin Donovan.”

    So I checked it out and the the contest question was: “Only one golfer from ENGLAND has ever won the Masters. What is his name? What year(s) did he win and what were his scores? (enter the +/- stroke totals for the entire tourney, not the daily rounds).”

    Any guesses? No? Really?

    FInd out how this turns out after the jump> [Read more…]

    Conservation politics

    Kirk Deeter recently posted on Field & Stream’s Fly Talk Blog, “I get angry when a discussion about a conservation concern — like oil and gas drilling in Wyoming or Utah, or maintaining roadless areas in Idaho or New Mexico, or a proposed pit mine in the headwaters of the world’s largest wild salmon fishery — degenerates into a “political debate.”
    [Read more…]

    AFFTA Board election draws a crowd

    This is really impressive. Twenty-eight people have thrown their fishing hats into the proverbial ring for the nine seats available on the American Fly Fishing Trade Associations board.

    As a board member this is a really exciting time. After some of the kicking around that AFFTA has gotten, deserved or not, the fact that so many people wanted to be part of the solution is wonderful. With so many folks stepping up to not just be a member but be a part of the leadership of AFFTA shows that folks care about having a strong trade association.

    If you are not a member of AFFTA you can’t vote so now might be a good time to join. AFFTA is changing and you should be a part of it.

    You can find Membership benefits info here.

    Join today!

    The candidates are listed below with links to the information they sent in to AFFTA.

    Eric Anderson, Owner – Bighorn River Fly Fisher

    Larry Barrett, Director Operations and Technology – Farbank

    Crispin Battles, Editor/Art Director – Fly Fish America

    Andrew Bennett, President – Deneki Outdoors

    John Bleh, Owner – Strategic Outdoor Marketing

    Dustin Carlson, Owner – Fishwest

    Bruce Chard, Owner & CEO – Captain Bruce Chard Fishing Charters

    Riley Cotter, International Sales Manager – Umpqua Feather Merchants

    Jerry Darkes, Owner – Angling Consulting Services, Inc

    Charles Dohs, President & Co-Founder – Fishhound.com

    Jon Fisher, Managing Member – Urban Angler

    Katheryn Fox, National Program Director – Casting for Recovery

    Mike Gawtry, Product Line Manager Fishing/Hunting – LL Bean

    Ali Gentry, Owner & CEO – El Pescador Lodge

    Scott Harkins, Owner – San Miguel Mnt. & River Products

    Chris Hart, Owner – Sundown River Products, Inc.

    David S. Heller, President & Co-Owner – Ross Reels USA/Ross Worldwide Outdoors

    Jim Murphy, President – Hardy North America

    Al Noraker, Designer, Senior Merchandise Manager – Wright McGill

    David Olson, Managing Partner – The Fly Shop of Miami

    Clint Packo, Owner – Freestone Aquatics

    Pat Pendergast, Director of International Travel – The Fly Shop Inc.

    John Pinto, Owner – B&C  Manufacturing & Import

    Curt Schlesinger, President – Trout & Grouse

    Kevin Sousa, CEO – March Brown Limited

    Guy Tillotson, Owner – Grand Slam Group

    Jeff Wieringa, Business Development Manager – Scientific Anglers

    Dusty Wissmath, Director – Dusty Wissmath’s Fly Fish School/Guide Service

    Fishers for Fish Habitat Tour and Forum in Australia

    I was in Australia for the past couple of weeks. During the first week my wife and I had a chance to visit some of New South Wales; the South Coast, Snowy Mountains, Lake Jindabyne, Kosciusko National Park, Cooma and Cowra. We tried to stay away from the large urban areas and see as much of the more rural parts as we could.

    The second week, we had the pleasure of spending 5 days with Craig Copeland and Charlotte Jenkins of Industry and Investment New South Wales. They took my wife and I on a tour of some of the fish habitat projects they have been working on. It was a great opportunity to see how our Australian colleagues are dealing with the challenges of dwindling fish habitat. We went to sites in the Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central West, Hunter Valley and wound up at Lake Macquarie for the forum.

    I also had a chance to be part of a panel discussion with some notable Australian recreational fishing pros and give a presentation on fish habitat activity in the U.S., especially the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture.

    F4F recreational fishers panel

    i sound smarter with a beer in front of me....

    I even managed to get a little press coverage of my visit:  US expert says conservation is give and take.

    It was a wonderful opportunity to see Australia both on our own and with some liked minded conservationists and to trade ideas and stories about two things I really enjoy, fishing and conservation.