When I reviewed our WSC membership list recently, I was not only truly amazed by the geographic diversity of our membership, but also our membership’s diversity of experience and passion for steelhead. I feel honored and privileged to lead an organization with such depth and skill. As President, I often run into many who have heard about our organization and want to know more about us or want to share a piece of information or an opinion about a specific steelhead issue. Sometimes it is a positive experience and sometimes it turns into a challenging discussion, but I always chock it up to a positive experience and an opportunity to learn another perspective.
On a recent steelhead adventure, I had just completed fishing for the day and was tugging at my wading boots and enjoying the last moments of a good day as a vehicle pulled up behind me. A fellow fisher jumped out of his rig and we exchanged the typical inquires about our luck or lack thereof for the day, and river conditions. He spied the WSC sticker on my camper and asked me about the organization and what we were about. After providing him a snapshot, he began providing some pointed opinions--by the way, I don’t believe I have ever met a fisher without an opinion, especially about what an organization should be doing--“ You know…”, oh, oh here it comes, I thought. “You guys seem to do a lot of work, but what are your accomplishments?” I quickly rattled of some examples and offered to send him some info, but he replied, “No, I’ll look ya’ up on your website.” We wished each other good luck and he sped off. I finished packing my gear away, and as the last rays of sun filtered through the moss laden trees I got into my vehicle to begin my drive home.
On the way home I found myself reflecting over the fisher’s comments from our exchange. I formulated a couple of important items to keep in mind: we live, unfortunately, in a “have it now society” where expectations are often formed in which accomplishments are often synonymous with the total end result, poof! All the problems will be solved if you can just do this. In the grand scheme of steelhead conservation I have learned that accomplishments are incremental and you build on those accomplishments, no matter how small, to create positive change always with the big picture in mind. But as I reflected further, it occurred to me that many people often miss our organization's biggest accomplishment. As a humble organization we have brought a tremendous amount of visibility, awareness and exposure to the plight of wild steelhead! And that simple BIG accomplishment in it self has created an opportunity for us to achieve success in increasing the return of wild steelhead.
It has taken a tremendous amount of work but when I am on the river with its awesome surroundings, stepping into a “fishy” steelhead run with its relentless force, to make the confident cast and suddenly have the fish take, feel the power of that first run and admire it as another experience is captured in my memory, it is truly worth it. And when I come home to have my young son Derek ask me if I caught a fish and I can tell him a story of the river and its fish, see his eyes full of wonder, I hope the work I continue today will afford him the opportunity in the future to catch a wild steelhead and gently release it back into its home. I hope you will find the time to join me and continue our work together.
Wild Steelhead Coalition
-Lost poor realitive of the Simms family fishing fortune