As the new president of the Sac-Sierra Chapter, this is my first time writing the "President's Message". I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you why I joined Trout Unlimited.
One of my long time friends lives in the heart of the Sierra Nevada and we have spent many days together fishing and talking politics. He is an intelligent, talented fisherman who just about always teaches me something new. He is also very politically aware and informed, and we share many of the same opinions regarding politicians and the political process. Both of us worry that the decisions being made in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. will cause more damage to the fisheries we love. Where we disagree is that my friend does not think that he, as an individual, can make a difference; that the politics of water are so stacked in favor of agribusiness and development that we are doomed to suffer whatever fate is decided by others. I can't agree with him. To agree with my friend I would have to give up the dream that my two sons will have the opportunity to "chase fish" with their children, just as we have chased fish as a family across the western U.S. That's why I joined Trout Unlimited.
While serving as your president my goal will be to continue the work of building a strong, active chapter dedicated to a future where we can all chase wild trout in wild places. Now that's something I can agree with!
To save room for more important and/or more interesting items this month, I only want to say "thank you" to the members who responded to Kevin's article last month about donating time to the Bingo fundraiser for the Mokelumne River Restoration Project. We had a good turnout and 100% of the funds raised May 13th have been set aside exclusively for this project.
As I wrote this, our skies were full of smoke from the more than 800 lightning-caused fires in Northern California last weekend. Our condolences to all who have suffered losses as a result of this terrible situation.
Prior to these fires, the Governor had declared a drought in California, and now the fires are destroying the vegetation that helps protect our streams and rivers from siltation and erosion. Many of our fisheries, which are already in trouble, will be additionally impacted by these conditions.
Differences of Opinion
Recently I asked my sons what they think about when someone says the word conservation. To Isaac it means restoring runs of wild, anadramous fish, especially steelhead, to our rivers. Joshua wants to see more rivers permanently protected by groups like Western Rivers Conservancy. For me it is the hope the future includes wild fish living in healthy rivers and streams for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. It is interesting how three people can have three different yet equally valid views of the same topic.
As an organization the Sac-Sierra chapter of TU is no different. Over the past year I have become increasingly aware of the size and geographic diversity of our chapter. Sac-Sierra TU has approximately 1000 members spread over roughly 8000 square miles, includes 10 major watersheds, and encompasses alpine and anadramous fisheries. If you were to survey our members you would find that folks use every imaginable type of rod, fly, bait or lure to chase and catch fish!
I have often heard or read anglers talking about their "home waters". In many cases these are the rivers, streams or lakes near home where they fish regularly. To me home water implies a place you know well, a river or lake you know as more than just a casual friend. I also think it means we care about what happens and help to take care of the place.
I would say I have three home waters: the American River for stripers, and the Truckee River and the Little Truckee River for trout. For me the most challenging, most demanding and some days amazingly rewarding is the Little Truckee River. I never fail to be amazed at the size, selectivity and overall snobbishness of the trout that live in the river. The Little Truckee is an outstanding trout stream that needs and deserves our protection.
I wanted nothing to do with fishing for many years when my son Isaac was small. Unfortunately I simply did not have the patience required to take a motor-driven, hyperactive, six year old fishing. The good news is that Cheryl, my wife, did, and she took Isaac and his brother Joshua fishing when they were young.
I started fly fishing by accident. When Isaac was about 8, he and I went camping together in Lassen National Park, just the two of us. To be honest I had struggled to connect with Isaac when he was young. Camping was something we both loved to do so I thought it would be a good way to spend some time with just him. Isaac badly wanted to fish on the trip so we took along his rod and his tackle box. By chance we met another father and son that were also on a trip together and were fishing. Greg was the father's name and he suggested we fish King's Creek for brookies. Isaac and I went there and he was able to catch several small fish on salmon eggs. To say that he was happy does not even begin to capture the smile and excitement of that moment. It was also one of the best moments of my life as a father.
I realize that this is a Trout Unlimited newsletter, but I have confession to make to all of you: I love to fish for more than just trout. Now don't get me wrong. Trout are fabulous, but I'll fish for just about anything that has fins. For me the list includes trout, salmon, steelhead, black bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, shad and striped bass. I really love to fish for striped bass. If you haven't tried fishing for stripers yet, make this the season you get out and give it a go.
We are lucky because Andy Guibord, a local striped bass guru and fly tyer, works at Kiene's Fly Shop and has agreed to teach a class at our April meeting on tying flies for striper fishing the American River. I have had the good fortune to tie flies and fish with Andy and can guarantee he knows what he is talking about. Don't miss this chance to learn from one of Sacramento's best striped bass fisherman.
One of the most interesting professors I had at the university was a math instructor who was a little different than the rest. Truth be known he was a lot different than most of the professors I knew. While taking his class I came to respect and admire him and learned a great deal from him. The interesting thing is the most important lessons had absolutely nothing to do with math.
This particular professor had a habit of occasionally lecturing on things that had nothing to do with math and everything to do with life. One day he came in and started talking about California coastal redwoods. He told us the Latin name, some of the history of the tree and the threats that the tree faced. Most importantly he talked about his personal commitment to preserving coastal redwoods in his local area. The gist of his message was that he could not protect all of the redwoods everywhere, but he could protect the trees that were in his backyard, and that come hell or high water, that's what he intended to do. Now remember, this is a university math professor lecturing to a classroom full of 19 and 20 year old science and engineering students. He wanted us to be aware that we were going to need to make choices about how we were going to live our lives. His goal I think was to get us to realize we would need to make a difference, not just make a living.