Stage fright

Putting the fly fishing industry in the spotlight
orvis guide rendezvous 2016

Have you ever stood up in front of 800+ cheering fly fishers? Have you ever stood alone on the stage in front of a beer-lubricated crowd that’s been whipped into a frenzy by the great “Hank Patterson” and then blown away by some truly incredible fly fishing films?

Because that was my Saturday night. The legendary fly fishing town of Missoula, Montana was deep in the throws of an epic “Down The Hatch” tent revival, and the powers-that-be at Orvis handed me a microphone and sent me out on the stage of the Wilma theater with a mandate to talk about our new film CHROME.

I have no clue what I said. I’m pretty sure I stammered out something, but honestly, it’s all a blur. I felt a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, where reality was uprooted and I was spinning in the whirlwind.

So with apologies to the good folks at Orvis, and to the overflow crowd at the Wilma — who may well have witnessed me speaking in tongues — here’s what I meant to say at intermission when CHROME wrapped up and Orvis casting guru Pete Kutzer handed me the microphone.

I’m Todd Tanner of Conservation Hawks, and you might actually recognize my hands. You just saw them hold Tom Rosenbauer’s steelhead. How cool is that?

I’ve probably seen that clip of Tom hooking up at least 50 times, and I still smile. When he goes from being totally dejected to completely euphoric ... seriously, that moment is the true essence of steelheading.


Of course, we went up to BC for a really important reason, and it wasn’t just for the fishing. We wanted to explain the threat we face from climate change and ocean acidification. We made CHROME to show people what’s at risk if we keep treating our skies like open sewers and dumping more than 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

You all heard Tom say: “We are the problem.” But what you really need to know — right now, today — is that we are also the solution.

Honestly, we are the solution.

So please, grab your phones, type in, and sign our petition. Tell our elected officials to get their act together and cut our CO2 emissions. Tell them to support clean, renewable energy. Tell them to give our kids a shot at a decent future.

And the next time you’re in the market for new fly fishing gear, remember that great brands like Orvis and Scientific Anglers and Costa and YETI and Sage and Patagonia have our backs. We need to support the companies that are fighting for us. Vote with your wallet.

That, in a nutshell, is what I wanted to say. And while I have my doubts any of that actually came out on stage, I am nevertheless indebted to Orvis, and to Steve Hemkens, Tom Rosenbauer, Phil Monahan, and the Perkins family, for helping Conservation Hawks speak up about climate change. I truly believe that if America’s 37 million sportsmen work together, we can help break the partisan logjam in Washington, DC and protect the landscapes and waterways we love from the worst impacts of a changing climate.

It’s also vital for anglers to start putting their money where their mouth is. There are some great companies doing some really important work on the conservation side. If we want to hold on to our fishing, we need to support the brands that are out there doing the heavy lifting on conservation. It’s time — actually, it’s past time — to start voting with our wallets. So if you’re in the market for a fly rod, or a sweet new reel, or a pair of waders or sunglasses, make sure you stick with a company that’s standing up for anglers. It’s the best shot we have at holding on to our fishing down the road.


You did an excellent job and said pretty much that....I remember since I was one of the few who wasn't "beer-lubricated". Thank you for doing what you do and promoting change. While I didn't speak, I feel your pain as Hank made me stand up front as his "Secretary of Defense" pick for his cabinet when he is elected president.