Occupy Skagit

The Skagit River is one of those iconic steelhead rivers, where the elusive silver ghost teases and tantalizes anglers. It's tree lined banks and wide expanse, with snow capped peaks towering in the background, evoke heartfelt memories for many, and just walking its banks leaves you with a lingering sense that you are walking in the footsteps of the fathers of steelheading. Names like Dec Hogan, Jerry French, Ed Ward and Harry Lemire are all synonomous with the Skagit, many a fly was designed on with its waters in mind, and the concept for the Skagit head was originated here.
In recent years the steelhead returns on the Skagit have suffered, to the point that the river now closes in February, completely. No catch and release season, no fly fishing only season...the river is left empty throughout the spring. An initiative, coined "Occupy Skagit", is being undertaken to try to restore the catch and release season once the run exceeds 6000 fish, to bring general awareness to the plight of this river, and to encourage WDFW to create a plan to encourage wild steelhead recovery. A river always needs concerned, passionate anglers to protect it.
From the Occupy Skagit Facebook Page:
What is Occupy Skagit?

• A gathering on the Skagit River, April 6th in support of restoring the C&R season. The activity will involve 'fishing' without hooks in as many visible places as possible on the Skagit and Sauk; from the bridge at Concrete upstream to Bacon Creek on the Skagit, and upstream on the Sauk to the bridge at Darrington.
• This is a 'Wade In' Our purpose is not to disrupt traf
fic, be violent, disrespectful, trespass, harass, or engage in illegal activity of any kind...you know, just like when you go fishing.
• This is a parallel action to mesh with attendance at the WDFW Comissioners Meeting the following week in Olympia.
Why is Occupy Skagit?

• At the time of the ESA listing of Puget Sound wild steelhead, it was generally acknowledged by NMFS that the most robust large basin population in the region was in the Skagit; in fact on its own it probably would not have been listed. After reviewing the evidence, it is our belief that a well managed, catch-and-release (C&R) season on the Skagit would not be inconsistent with the recovery of its wild winter steelhead.
• This will require a petition from WDFW to NMFS for a permit that establishes basin specific allowable impacts (as is currently being done with Puget Sound Chinook).
Who is Occupy Skagit?
• You are. If two people do it, no one will notice. If two hundred people do it, we hope to garner some attention. Sometimes you have to dump a little tea in the harbor to get noticed.

I've been fortunate enough to fish the Skagit a handful of times, but have yet to land a steelhead. Those trips were some of my best fishing trips ever, with great friends. This historic river needs all the support it can get. Even if you can't make the April 6th "wade in", please take a moment to join the Occupy Skagit Facebook page here.


Chasing Their Dreams

Have I ever mentioned that one of the biggest reasons why I love working in the fly fishing industry is that I get to meet the most incredible people? People who are motivated, talented and passionate, and incredibly inspirational. In the past several months I've had the pleasure of creating new relationships with a number of anglers who are pursuing their dreams in this crazy world, and I'd love to introduce a couple of them to you.

Wild Reverence
Shane Anderson, of North Fork Studios, is dedicating an enormous amount of time and effort to filming a documentary on the plight of wild steelhead throughout their native range. Please check out the website here - Wild Reverence, and "like" the Wild Reverence Facebook page for updates on the filming. 
Silo4 - A Deliberate Life, and the Fishing Poet
Matt Smythe is part of the team at Silo4 and the voice behind the blog Fishing Poet. I'm sure at this point there aren't many anglers who haven't at least heard of "A Deliberate Life", the first film project from Silo4 and one of feature selections in the 2013 season of IF4. Heartfelt story telling, creativity and a genuine sense of community are evident throughout Matt's work.
On the same note of great people doing great things, here are a couple new ventures from some of the most dedicated women in the sport, women that I am proud to call friends and who are truly a never ending source of inspiration for me.
Whitney Gould Guided Fly Fishing and Flycasting Instruction

Whitney is an incredible angler, superb guide, and one of the best spey casters I know. She is one of the hardest workers in the industry, and is now offering guiding services and instruction through her own website, Whitney Gould Guided Fly Fishing and Flycasting Instruction.
Frigate Adventure Travel

Kate Taylor is bad ass, plain and simple. She is the voice of Rogue Angels, guides in Alaska during the summer and Oregon during the winter, and hosts trips in the Baja for a couple of months in the the spring time. She and partner Justin Crump have started up Frigate Adventure Travel, and recently returned from a hosted trip to Christmas Island.
Write 2 Fly-Fish
A little newer on the scene but equally as passionate, Lisa Schweitzer is combining her love of fly fishing with her love of writing in her new project, Write 2 Fly-Fish. Lisa is a brilliant writer, an incredible angler, and brings a fresh and unique perspective to the sport.
I hope you'll take a little time to get to know these fantastic people, and support them in their endeavors. And I hope they provide you with some inspiration, to pursue what you love, to push yourself to learn and grow, and to pass some of that inspiration on to others.