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White fever

Laying about in in the depths of a hundred and one fever I have the leisure of considering all manner of things. In and out of the void topics both meaningful and mundane surge and recede. Did I reply to that email? I wonder if the ice dams on the roof will be a problem? How long before the streams flow free again?

Icy River Winter

Unlike much of the west, our eastern winter has been wet and frigid. Four foot drifts guard the banks of the driveway. The stop sign at the end of the street has been consumed by the plow's drift. It's increasingly difficult to find places to put the new snow which arrives, a few inches at a time, every other day or so.

While I still whine about the weather, mutterings about the weight of the season are so common as to be meaningless. So much has already said about the endless cold days that there are few words worth listening to. I do it as much out of habit as anything else.

Dead Water

While I'm a fairly dedicated winter angler the past few weeks made it difficult to get excited about hitting the water. The thermometer has stuck close to the single digits lately and I don't recall the last time it was above freezing. Most rivers and streams are locked solid and even the tailwaters are struggling to run free. If I wanted this sort of weather I'd live up in some mountain valley in Colorado. Sitting in western Connecticut it shouldn't feel like the Rockies but it does. Except without the mountains and the legal pot.

Confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers
Confluence of the Yellowstone and Lamar Rivers (photo: Chad Shmukler).

While I consider my glass half empty situation I scan the news sites which, given my mood, only serves to destroy hope. From West Virginia to Montana industry seems hidebound to poison our waters. Another oil pipeline has burst, this one full of Canadian oil, fouling the Yellowstone River and drinking water in a season that foils clean-up efforts. Bakken oil filled tanker cars have finished exploding but not burning along the banks of the befouled Kanawha River. It seems there's no reliably safe way to transport the stuff.

The Greenbacks: Changing the World of Conservation

Five years ago, a small group of conservation-minded anglers sat down to discuss strategies for how to excite a new generation of young, passionate anglers. The plan of our small group -- eventually known as the Greenbacks -- was simple: change how conservation is viewed by a younger audience and make it engaging by thinking outside the box.

As Nick Hoover, one of the core members of our group noted, “After being involved with my local Trout Unlimited chapter for awhile, I realized the traditional chapter model might not be working for the majority of my peers. I thought it would be fun to find a committed core of young anglers like me who were having a hard time plugging into TU and together introduce some fun back into conservation."

Our first idea was to host a gallery event, later dubbed 'Surface Film', showcasing of some of the best fly-fishing photography from around the country. “We’re fortunate to know some very talented photographers that are willing to offer their images for the greater good”, said Tim Romano, also a member of the group and well-known professional photographer. Images were gathered, printed, and then framed by Anthology Fine Art in Denver. “It was a huge task to undertake, but it was something we felt strongly about, so we were all in,” noted Anthology Fine Art's owner, and Greenback, Zach Custer.

Yield to thy friends, not temptation

We recently published a quick tip from friend, former guide and all around wildly skilled angler Todd Tanner. Todd's tip urged more experienced anglers to yield the best water to friends that are less experienced anglers, noting "You won’t catch more fish, but you’ll end up having a better time and cementing your friendships." Initially, I took Todd's tip to be a matter of simple common courtesy, one that I assumed all good and moral fly fishers such as myself follow without deviation. Given some more thought, I remembered not only many times when I had faithfully followed this credo, but many when I hadn't -- and how that choice affects us as anglers.

Montana Cuttthroat
New anglers that catch fish are happy anglers (photo: Chad Shmukler).

My guess is that most anglers will share similar memories -- those of times we've passed on fishing our favorite honey hole, instead setting up a beginner angling friend and instructing him or her on just the right way to ply its waters, or of times we passed up pods of steadily rising fish, yielding them to a friend that sees such opportunities less often than those of us who get to fish more often. And, as Todd notes, those choices almost always pan out for the best.

Orvis and CEO Perk Perkins on Investing in the Great Outdoors

We spend a lot of time beating the drums of conservation, talking about the need to prioritize the preservation of clean water and healthy landscapes. We do it because we believe the message is simple: conserving our rivers, forest, streams and so on is good business. Not just in the sense that it allow us to pass down our hunting and fishing heritage to the next generations, but that it is literally good business; for those of us in the outdoors industries, the health of our businesses rely on the health of our lands and waters. Orvis, driven by its CEO Perk Perkins, is one of the companies that seems to understand these concepts particularly well.

Orvis 1,000 Miles Campaign
From a short video on the Orvis/TU 1,000 Miles Campaign, which is working to reconnect streams across the U.S. creating miles of spawning habitat and fishable water.

Anglers have grown accustomed to seeing Orvis' name attached to countless important conservation efforts that are tied directly to preserving, protecting and improving our fisheries. Whether that is through their support and partnerships with the Save Bristol Bay campaign and other Trout Unlimited efforts, American Rivers, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Deschutes River Alliance or The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Orvis's commitment to fisheries conservation is well demonstrated widespread.