Bringing the Lackawanna River Back to Life

Introducing Charles Charlesworth, the Simms/Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year.

Story By Barry Beck As Seen in Fly Fisherman Magazine

The Lackawanna River in Northeastern Pennsylvania was called a “waking giant” in a recent Fly Fisherman feature article (Aug-Sep 2018), was included in the most recent edition of Trout Unlimited’s Guide to America’s 100 Best Trout Streams, and in 2020 it was named Pennsylvania’s River of the year. But it wasn’t always this way. Fifty years ago it was hopelessly polluted with acid mine drainage. There seemed little hope for recovery. And things got worse. In 1972 the river was devastated by flooding from Hurricane Agnes, at that time America’s most costly and damaging hurricane, and still Pennsylvania’s wettest tropical cyclone on record. In the aftermath, the Army Corps of Engineers straightened the streambed, built miles of levees to contain floodwaters, and turned the river and its floodplains into a drainage ditch. The Lackawanna was also a junkyard for discarded tires, washing machines, and televisions. It smelled of sulfur, and wasn’t even recognized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a trout stream.

Anthracite Coal
For more than 200 years, coal mining was a way of life in Pennsylvania, and it put food on the table. The Lackawanna Valley is home to the largest vein of anthracite coal in the world, and while coal companies and American industry prospered from it, Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams did not. Textile plants, tanneries, and the iron industry also contributed their share of water pollution, to the point that when Scranton became a city in 1888, the water was unfit for human consumption. It stayed that way until the late 1960s, when the coal industry began to dwindle. In 1966 the Lackawanna River Basin Sewer Authority and the city of Scranton’s Sewer Authority were formed to handle wastewater, and the federal Clean Water Act of 1970 provided some hope that the river might have a future.
There were centuries of damage that need to be undone, but the Lackawanna River story is evidence that with help, rivers can come back. But it takes groups like Lackawanna Valley TU, the Lackawanna River Conservation Association, and the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority. And it takes energetic, pivotal individuals like Charles Charlesworth to make it happen.

Due in part to his efforts, much of the Lackawanna River is now a Class A wild trout stream, the backbone of a growing group of recreational users, and an educational springboard for high school and college students who use the Lackawanna to learn how to fly fish and/or study best practices for river restoration.

As a kid, Charlesworth ran a trapline along Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River, and he remembers vividly the cold mornings he spent removing fouled toilet paper from his water traps. He also remembers how a bleach and dye plant upstream discharged effluent that discolored the water and made it stink. These early experiences made a huge impression on Charlesworth, and for the rest of his life, environmental stewardship was part of his character.

His formal involvement with river restoration started 30 years ago when he worked with Schuylkill County TU chapter members to create limestone diversion wells in the headwaters of Swatara Creek. The diversion wells used crushed limestone to reduce the acidity of the water, and created 7 new miles of trout stream where the Swatara was heavily impacted by heavy metals from acid mine drainage.

Charlesworth later moved to Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania (a few miles north of Scranton) where he worked with the Stanley Cooper Sr. Chapter to restore and rehabilitate Bowman Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna that was devastated by Hurricane Agnes decades earlier. The chapter spent a whole year working with the Army Corps of Engineers to stabilize riverbanks, create instream habitat, and to reverse the effects of channelization. It was his first successful experience in working with a government agency to reverse and repair the damage done by the same agency. It was also a glimpse of what needed to be done on a larger scale in the nearby Lackawanna River watershed.

To make that happen, the Lackawanna needed boots on the ground, so working with local fly shop owner Greg Nidoh and many others, Charlesworth started Lackawanna Valley TU (lackawannavalleytu.org) to work with existing organizations to improve the overall water quality and increase and manage trout populations. Not only did Charlesworth get the new chapter off the ground, he has served as a board member, vice president, and then president during the chapter’s most pivotal years.
When LVTU first got started in 2001, most of the river was not even listed or recognized by the state as a trout stream, and therefore had none of the protective regulations that go along with it. According to Charlesworth, just filing the paperwork and getting adequate recognition and regulations from the state was an important part of the battle. The first step was to have the entire river listed as trout water, and now almost 18 miles of the Lackawanna are designated by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) as either Class A Wild Trout Water or as Trophy Trout Water. There is another 8 miles of designated Stocked Trout Water above that, in flowing water that was once too toxic to even hold trout.

“Sometimes I catch hell because I talk too much about the Lackawanna,” said Charlesworth. “Some people don’t want anyone else to know about the Lackawanna, or hear about trophy trout regulations, but this is how rivers get saved. It seems like the more attention this river gets, the better the fishing becomes.”

According to Charlesworth, the designations are a chicken-or-the-egg question. Part of the designations are due to actual habitat and water quality improvements, but part of the reason why the Lackawanna is getting better is also because of the special regulations that come along with Class A Wild Water or Trophy Trout Water. And under the leadership of Charlesworth and LVTU, the Lackawanna has gone from zero to hero in about a decade. “Sometimes I catch hell because I talk too much about the Lackawanna,” said Charlesworth. “Some people don’t want anyone else to know about the Lackawanna, or hear about trophy trout regulations, but this is how rivers get saved. It seems like the more attention this river gets, the better the fishing becomes.”

Charlesworth admits that special regulations are only a small part of the success story of the Lackawanna. Before they could worry about limits on harvest, LVTU had to ensure the water quality and habitat were adequate to support a Class A Wild trout population. Hurricane Agnes in 1972 badly damaged the Lackawanna and its tributaries, and the flood control measures implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers afterward included miles of levees and river channelization.

Under Charlesworth’s leadership, LVTU asked a habitat specialist from the PFBC to study the river and make recommendations on specific improvements to create trout habitat in places where the river was little more than a chute altered to move water downstream as quickly as possible. “We did a lot of research on flood mitigation, and we had to explain to the Army Corps of Engineers that reducing the velocity of the river is actually a good thing,” said Charlesworth. “Increased velocity only creates more problems downstream. It doesn’t solve anything.”
In one instance, LVTU developed a plan for staggered boulders through a 500-foot section of river to slow the current and provide habitat for trout. Charlesworth personally arranged for a quarry to donate eight massive boulders, a half ton or larger. Charlesworth also convinced a logging company to donate eight mature split logs with the root wads still attached. And he secured a crane company to donate a 105-ton crane and operator to move all the structures into place. In the end, the completed project cost LVTU just $1,500 in engineering costs, because all the materials and equipment were donated.

Charlesworth also started a water quality monitoring program on the Lackawanna in a partnership with LVTU and Dickinson College, and that program helped trace source pollution in two cases that led to fines by the DEP against two polluters. “We were out on the river diligently testing water quality with monitoring stations above and below every well pad in the watershed, so we had a baseline and could identify even very small changes in water quality,” said Charlesworth. “In all those years, we never discovered any chemical or toxic discharge directly from a gas well. There was frequently a lot of soil erosion at the sites, but not much else. However, in one case our monitoring station revealed that one of the companies was washing their diesel engines down with a degreaser, and that contaminant was leaching into the water. Even if it’s a very small amount, our water quality testing can detect it.”

In another instance, someone stole a brass valve from a 6,000-gallon oil storage tank, and oil started flowing into the Lackawanna. But the monitoring program caught it, and the PFBC and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality were on site within the hour to shut down the flow of oil.

Charlesworth sees the watershed as the lifeblood of the entire community, but he’s enough of a realist to know that it has to be fixed one piece at a time, and when those opportunities arise, he takes action. One of those opportunities was an abandoned parcel of land along the Lackawanna that was once the site of a municipal incinerator. The soil was tainted with toxins, the land covered in invasive knotweed, and the channelized riverbed was inhospitable for trout. Working with the Lackawanna River Conservation Association (he was a board member at the time) and LVTU, Charlesworth led an effort to restore both the land and the river. Under his leadership, the groups removed contaminated soil and replaced it with clean topsoil, repaired the streambanks, and provided instream structure for trout. They replaced knotweed with a rain garden and a flowering butterfly garden, and built a pavilion for educational events.

“For instance, we did some study areas with different types of streambank restoration, like logs and rip-rap, and what we found was that one of the best ways to stabilize the bank and prevent erosion was to weave willow branches and use them as sort of a blanket along the bank. The willows sprout upward naturally from that blanket.”

Now called the Sweeney Beach Environmental Education Center, the site is a study area, with ongoing test sites to determine best methods for reducing knotweed infestations, and the best methods for streambank stabilization.
“We’ve learned a lot at the site we can use in future projects,” said Charlesworth. “For instance, we did some study areas with different types of streambank restoration, like logs and rip-rap, and what we found was that one of the best ways to stabilize the bank and prevent erosion was to weave willow branches and use them as sort of a blanket along the bank. The willows sprout upward naturally from that blanket.”

The Lackawanna River Conservation Association now hosts an annual river festival at Sweeney Beach with kayak races and educational programs. High schools, local colleges, and LVTU all host educational events there, including the Stream Girls program, fly-tying classes for children in the pavilion, and casting lessons on the Sweeney Beach property.

Sweeney Beach is also a frequent home to another Charlie Charlesworth project, the Keystone/TU Teens Conservation Camp—a partnership between Keystone College and Trout Unlimited. The summer camp is for kids aged 14 to 18, with instructors from three different universities and colleges, professionals from agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Fish & Boat Commission, Department of Environmental Protection, county conservation districts, and the Penn State Agricultural Extension office. The campers are housed on campus at Keystone College, but some of their field work is at Sweeney Beach or other sites on the Lackawanna River, where they participate in conservation projects. Charlesworth didn’t just help raise the funds to get the project off the ground: He participates as a TU volunteer at each camp.

Getting youth involved in fishing and river restoration is Charlesworth’s biggest passion. He also helped start the LVTU Teens Fly Fishing Club for high school students and also the Keystone College 5 Rivers Fly Fishing Club. The Keystone College club model was so successful Charlesworth worked with former LVTU Teens club members to also start clubs on their campuses at Pitt-Bradford, Juniata College, St. Francis University, and Mansfield University. There are now 11 different 5 Rivers Fly Fishing Clubs on Pennsylvania campuses, and 150 clubs across the country.

In addition to his volunteer work with youth groups and with Lackawanna Valley TU, Charlesworth has served on the board of directors for the Lackawanna River Conservation Association, he’s been a director with the Lackawanna County Conservation District, a member of the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, a member of the Pennsylvania Environment Council, and he’s a graduate of the Penn State Master Watershed Steward Program. Through his efforts with all these groups, the Lackawanna River was named Pennsylvania’s 2020 River of the Year.

He’s also had important roles as president of LVTU, president of Pennsylvania TU, and also as part of PATU’s Legislative Action Committee, which makes monthly visits to the Pennsylvania House and Senate, speaking to members about environmental issues important to coldwater fisheries. In 2019 he stepped down as Pennsylvania TU president and was appointed to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. As a commissioner, he has been involved in the classification of more than 180 new Class A Wild Trout stream sections and more than 600 new Trout Waters designations. In that role, he’s also been involved with significant dam removals in Pennsylvania and in land acquisitions and fishing leases for restoration and/or public access.

His previous awards include the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Thomas Shelburne Award for Conservationist of the Year (2015), Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited’s Inky Moore Award for Environmental Excellence (2016), and nationally, the Trout Unlimited Award for Distinguished Service (2016). He received a citation from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf in 2015 for his conservation efforts.

Because of his legacy of successful environmental and educational efforts, Charles Charlesworth has now also been named as Fly Fisherman’s 2021 Conservationist of the Year, and Simms Fishing Products will make a $10,000 donation in his name to Lackawanna Valley Trout Unlimited to continue its work in river restoration, water quality monitoring, and youth education.

After many decades of fishing Pennsylvania streams, and seeing both their beauty and their many ailments, I can attest that few people have made the kinds of significant improvements that Charlesworth has. And his successes have come mostly in places that at one time were barely recognizable as trout streams, and with young people who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to get their feet wet in a trout stream, let alone explore it with a seine or fly rod. Hopefully they will follow his leadership and make similar watershed impacts, not just in Pennsylvania but wherever their careers and their lives take them.

Socks and Underwear – the Unsung (and Unseen) Hero of Gift Giving Season.

Give the Gift that Keeps Giving All Fishing Season Long.

So here we are in the midst of holiday shopping season. This time of year is branded as fun and festive, but often times, the gift giving aspect takes away from what’s advertised – especially when the time comes to check the angler in your life off your shopping list.

Hardcore anglers seemingly already have it all. Newbies might not know exactly what they need. Not to mention – obvious necessities like rods, reels, waders and boots don’t exactly reflect stocking stuffer prices. So what’s a shopper to do? The answer is simple — lean on an old holiday standby — socks and underwear.

We’re not talking about Fruit of the Loom and we’re not talking about argyle gold toes. We’re talking about the unsung (and unseen) heroes of any proper fishing kit. We’re talking about technical, performance-driven gear that keep extremities warm and functional, toasty layering options that offer mobility, and prolong the life of waders and/or fishing bibs. So sit back, relax, enjoy a stiff glass of egg nog and hook up the angler in your life with a gift they’ll be thanking you for all fishing season long.

Socks

Even in our day-to-day lives — shoes fit better with quality socks. When wearing any kind of technical footwear, such as a wading boot, the way your sock fits and feels directly correlates to how your boot fits and feels. Not to mention, quality socks keep your feet warm. Simms’ Merino Thermal OTC Sock (also available in Women’s) provides an outstanding fit, comfy next-to-skin feel, and incredible warmth. Extending all the way up past the calf, the OTC socks are naturally wicking, feature reinforced midfoot supports as well as a reinforced heel and toe. Best of all, because we all know just how funky fishing socks can be after a day of hard use, anglers will be glad to know that the OTC Socks are odor resistant. If you like what you hear about the Merino Thermal OTC Sock but are one of those anglers that prefers a thinner sock, Simms also offers the Merino Midweight OTC Sock as well.


But maybe you’re looking for something that doesn’t run so high up your leg. We get it — for some situations, a shorter sock is needed. Simms Merino Midweight Hiker Sock ( also available in Women’s) has become a fan favorite ever since it was introduced. These socks run up to the bottom of the calf. Just like the OTC, the hiker socks are also naturally wicking, odor resistant and feature cushioning in high impact areas. And once again, if you prefer a thinner variation, we’ve got you covered with the Merino Lightweight Hiker Sock (also available in Women’s).

Underwear

Now that we’ve covered some of our favorite socks, it’s time to move on to the unmentionables. What you wear under your waders really depends on how warm you want to be throughout your fishing day. Before we make our recommendations, we’d like to offer the following: PLEASE — DO NOT WEAR JEANS UNDER YOUR WADERS! Trust us, you will undoubtedly be uncomfortable and you will be killing the life of your waders. Plus, we make killer pieces specifically designed to be worn under waders and bibs! Some of our favorites are below.

For chilly mornings that promise rising temps throughout the day, the Lightweight Core Top and Bottom (also available in Women’s) are our go-to next-to-skin layering option. Soft, warm, but not too warm, this layering combo boasts a super low profile that won’t hinder rowing, casting, hiking, or any other angling motion. Constructed from moisture wicking, anti-odor fabrics, the Lightweight Core Top features raglan sleeves and flatlock seams for added comfort and stellar on water performance.

Fish in colder climates or deep into the winter? If so, the Lightweight Core Top and Bottom simply isn’t going to cut it. Here in Montana, on the days we know most anglers will stay home due to the cold, we opt for the Midweight Core Top – Quarter Zip and Bottom. Once again, this fishing focused underwear features anti-odor, wicking fabrics that help generate heat by moving moisture away from your body. Yes, it’s slightly bulkier than the Lightweight Core Top and Bottom, but every bit as comfy and mobile.

We understand and love the fact that plenty of women also like to get after it despite bitterly cold conditions. For maximum layering warmth for women, we highly recommend the Women’s Fleece Mid-Layer Half Zip and Bottom. Fully functional on the water but also unmatched when it comes to post fishing lounging.

Legends of the Late Season

Your Fall Season May Be Longer Than You Think With Rewards Of Mythical Proportion.

Of all the folklore, myths, and outright lies that circulate among striped bass surfcasters, none have been more romanticized than the legends of giant late-season stripers.

Most of these tales—shared in hushed tones at tackle shops or beachside greasy spoons—follow the same formula. A surfcaster who’s racked his rods for the season is on the water for a non-fishing-related activity including, but not limited to, duck hunting, dog walking, or taking the scenic route to his day job. There, he sees the mother of all striper schools. The bass are always enormous, showing themselves in the faces of breaking waves as they chase down the hapless baitfish (usually Atlantic herring, sand eels, or menhaden).  The angler bearing witness never has a rod and reel, but rushes home to retrieve one, only to return to a beach that’s completely devoid of life.

Getting Rigged for a Late Season, Late Evening Session

Many surfcasters, after hearing iterations of this story on an annual basis begin to see them for what they probably are: bullshit. Though occasionally, such reports are cases of mistaken identity. A raft of diving ducks, which you are far more likely to see in the late-season surf, looks exactly like blitzing stripers from a distance—especially when the feeding ducks attract a flock of sea gulls.

Two decades worth of archived reports from online surf-fishing forums suggest that the larger fish form the vanguard of the striper migration, with the smaller fish taking up the rear. Posts from late November onward almost always include scaling down tackle to enjoy the last of the “schoolie” stripers as they quickly swim south.

However, there are just enough verifiable accounts of late-season monsters for me to justify investigating the claims of any dog walker or duck hunter within reasonable driving distance. On Halloween 1998, there was a 60-pounder taken from the Cape Cod Canal; in November 1982, there was a 73-pounder caught on Nauset Beach; and in 2011 there was a 44-pounder pulled from the December surf in Rhode Island. This year holds even more potential, as abnormally warm ocean temperatures have extended the striper season. In New Jersey, surfcasters have been reporting the best fishing for big bass in a decade—with most of it happening after Thanksgiving. 

Even with these reports, though, it’s the idea of the monstrous unreported stripers that warms my bones in the icy, fall surf.

The Author Prepares to Release a Late Season/Late Night Striper Back into the Suds

I believe hardcore surfcasters to be the most secretive breed of fishermen. For each of those widely-circulated catches, I’m willing to bet there are five more massive stripers caught and released without anyone ever knowing. In my mind, if anything could verify the presence of the cow stripers in the waning days of autumn, it’s the old guard’s silence on the subject. At least that’s what I tell myself, when I’m adding another layer under my waders and chipping the ice off my eel bucket. In all likelihood, my fall run will end without my name being added to the list of casters who wrestled legendary bass from the cold Atlantic surf—but then again, it might. There’s only one way to know for sure.

Simms, TU Partner to Focus on the Gallatin in Montana

The Gallatin River near Bozeman, Montana/ Brian Grossenbacher

Multi-Year Collaboration Will Benefit Fishery, Community.

When collaboration works well, it has a tendency to grow into new opportunities. It happened this summer during a call between Chris Wood, CEO and president of Trout Unlimited, and K. C. Walsh, executive chair of Simms Fishing Products.

They had been discussing how to stand united against Pebble Mine in Alaska. As things wrapped up Walsh told Wood he wanted to explore more opportunities for the organizations to work together.

“It was great to hear K.C. wanted to see if there was more we could do together,” Wood said. “I told him I had some ideas but that I wanted to talk to some of our folks and get more options.”

As it turned out, one of the items high on Trout Unlimited’s wish list was right in Simms’ backyard near Bozeman, Mont. 

The result of that simple conversation led to the announcement today that Simms and Trout Unlimited are launching a multi-year partnership on the Gallatin River as part of TU’s Home Rivers Initiative.

Simms has committed a quarter of a million dollars over three years. This allows Trout Unlimited to hire a full-time staffer to focus on the Gallatin River. 

“With this support of TU’s Home Rivers Initiative, we are committing to a legacy of stewardship for one of our most important Montana rivers,” Walsh said. “Suburban development, irrigation demands and angling pressure will continue to challenge the Gallatin River, and Simms is proud to partner in this effort with TU to drive conservation and restoration efforts.”

Trout Unlimited hopes to have the new position filled early in the spring of 2021. In addition to coordinating stream restoration and river access site work with existing conservation organizations in the watershed, the Gallatin River project manager and outreach coordinator will also work with Simms to provide staff to help with community science opportunities for local students and volunteer efforts on the Gallatin.

“Three cheers to Simms for stepping up to help Trout Unlimited protect and recover the river that defines their community. Restoration of the Gallatin and its tributaries will help provide high-paying, family wage jobs in rural communities across Montana,” Wood said. “It will also help improve an already great fishery in a state that, to many, is the Holy Grail of fishing. We look forward to working with Simms and its employees to bring people together to recover the Gallatin.”

This will not be the first work by Trout Unlimited on the Gallatin and its tributaries. Jeff Dunn, Upper Missouri and Yellowstone project manager for Trout Unlimited, has been working on the Gallatin for nearly 20 years. 

Fall is a Special Time to Visit the Gallatin River. Jeff Dunn/Trout Unlimited

“This generous commitment from Simms is going to be a really big deal for the Gallatin,” Dunn said. “TU works with a group of great partners across the watershed and this funding will allow us to bring more resources to help tackle habitat restoration and streamflow projects that will improve this beloved local river and its fishery.”

Trout Unlimited will continue to work with established partners like the Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited Chapter, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Gallatin River Task Force, the Gallatin Watershed Council and Custer-Gallatin National Forest, and look for new collaborative opportunities.

The Gallatin River Near Bozeman, Montana. Brian Grossenbacher

“We’re thrilled to join forces with TU and support the Home Rivers Initiative here in the Gallatin Valley,” said Casey Sheahan, Simms CEO. “The Gallatin River gives so much to our local community and is such an important fishery, it feels great to form such a meaningful and impactful long-term partnership with TU to ensure a healthy fishery for years to come.” 

Simms is asking those who love the Gallatin to support the new collaboration on Giving Tuesday, or at any time, with a donation to the new Gallatin River Home Rivers Initiative.

Brett Prettyman is a communications director for Trout Unlimited’s Western Water and Habitat Program. His favorite part of the drive from Salt Lake City to Bozeman to see his son at college is the stretch along the Gallatin River.

Simms and Trout Unlimited Unite to Protect and Preserve Montana’s Gallatin River.

Simms Fishing Products announced today a multi-year partnership with conservation group and non-profit Trout Unlimited (TU). The partnership will focus on TU’s Home Rivers Initiative, a multi-regional program that places full-time TU staff member(s) in a watershed to live and work with, and within the local community in order to bring the full range of TU’s scientific, policy, education, and legal expertise to bear on watershed-scale restoration and protection. Over the next three years, Simms is committed to a quarter million dollar investment in the Home Rivers partnership with Trout Unlimited in an effort to protect Montana’s Gallatin River.

“Three cheers to SIMMS for stepping up to help Trout Unlimited protect and recover the river that defines their community. Restoration of the Gallatin and its tributaries will provide high-paying, family wage jobs in rural communities across Montana. It will also help improve an already great fishery in a state that many consider fishing Mecca,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “We look forward to working with SIMMS and their employees to bring people together to recover the Gallatin.”

Beginning in January of 2021, SIMMS and TU will launch a dedicated restoration initiative to improve trout populations and fishing opportunity in the Gallatin River. The initial efforts aim to protect instream flows and essential water supplies, restore and reconnect critical fish habitat, and engage local communities in citizen science and angler stewardship programs. Over the next three years, a dedicated Gallatin River Project Manager and Outreach Coordinator will work in tandem with local conservation organizations to design and implement on-the-ground habitat restoration projects in critical tributaries in the Upper and Lower Gallatin River watershed. In addition, this Coordinator will work with partners to improve river access sites, engage local students and SIMMS employees in citizen science projects and volunteer efforts, and work with growing municipalities to restore and protect cold, clean water sources to ensure healthy fisheries for generations to come.

“With this support of TU’s Home Rivers Initiative we are committing to a legacy of stewardship for one of our most important Montana rivers,” stated K. C. Walsh, Executive Chair.  “Suburban development, irrigation demands, and angling pressure will continue to challenge the Gallatin River, and Simms is proud to partner in this effort with TU to drive conservation and restoration efforts.”

The Trout Unlimited-Simms Gallatin River HRI will capitalize on existing powerful partnerships with the Madison-Gallatin TU Chapter, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Gallatin River Task Force, the Gallatin Watershed Council and Custer-Gallatin National Forest to increase our collective capacity to do effective, watershed-scale conservation work.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with TU and support the Home Rivers Initiative here in the Gallatin Valley,” said Casey Sheahan, CEO. “The Gallatin River gives so much to our local community and is such an important fishery, it feels great to form such a meaningful and impactful long-term partnership with TU to ensure a healthy fishery for years to come.” To learn more about the partnership and how to get involved, please visit the donation page here: https://gifts.tu.org/gallatinHRI

King Midas’ Curse- Retold Through the Story of an Idaho Gold Mine

As the story goes, King Midas of Phrygia lived a life of abundant luxury. He ruled over his kingdom from a great castle, filled with all the riches a man could ever dream of. A materialistic man, Midas centered his happiness around his impressive collection of gold. One day while out walking through his rose garden, Midas happened upon a drunken and sickly Satyr. Midas, recognizing the Satyr as one of the God Dionysus’ good friends, brought him into his castle and nursed him back to health. 

Dionysus, Greek God of wine, fertility, and ecstasy (seems like a fun guy), was thrilled to have his friend back in good health. To show his gratitude, he offered to grant King Midas one wish of his choosing. Immediately and almost without thinking, Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Dionysus granted the wish gladly. 

Midas, thrilled with his newfound power, quickly began exploring the limitations of the gift. He ran through his castle, handling any random objects in sight. As promised, they all turned to gold. He ordered his servants to prepare him a great feast to celebrate. Midas sat down in his golden chair at his golden dinner table and began to eat. He reached for a vine of grapes, which were transformed into solid gold the moment he laid his fingers on them. He picked up his bread, which also metalized upon contact with his magical hands. Frustrated, Midas lifted his glass of wine and began to drink. This, too, turned to solid gold the moment it touched his lips. King Midas spiraled into a storm of rage as he began to realize the implications of his great gift. His beautiful daughter, pride of Midas’ life, entered the room and he ran to hug her, seeking comfort in her embrace. The moment his arms wrapped around her, she too turned to solid gold. Midas was devastated. His greed had destroyed everything in his life that he held dear. 

This story and its many re-tellings offer a simple lesson to readers: be wary of man’s undying greed for money and power. The fable of King Midas has been retold through countless events throughout history, and each time, the lesson rings true. This story and its moral can be applied quite seamlessly to one very unfortunately-named Canadian Mining company—Midas Gold.

Midas Gold Incorporated, like many modern mining companies, is headquartered in Canada due to the relaxed and compliant nature of Canada’s government when it comes to disclosures related to mining practices (nearly 75% of the world’s mining companies call Canada “home”). Mining companies frequently headquarter in Canada, where it’s easy to exploit the minimal regulations in place. Once these mining companies have established headquarters in the land of maple, they are able to open mines all over the world and make incredible amounts of profit. Midas Gold follows this template to a tee. 

Midas’ current and first actual mining project, the Stibnite Mine, is located in Central Idaho near the town of Yellow Pine roughly 100 miles away from Boise. Stibnite has a complicated and storied history as a rich mining zone, with its original claims being laid in the late 1800s. Throughout the early 1900s Stibnite was mined by a few different parties, and by 1932 Bradley Mining Company had set up shop as a legitimate mining operation. Stibnite was critical to the United States’ war effort through WWII, with 90% of the antimony and 50% of the Tungsten used in the war coming from the mine. Rich with gold, silver, tungsten, and antimony, the area was actively mined all the way up until 1966. 

Stibnite is precariously located in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Salmon River drainage, with the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River flowing directly through the center of the site. The South Fork of the Salmon drainage as a whole accounts for a large chunk of Idaho’s chinook salmon and steelhead spawning habitat, and also provides critical habitat for resident bull and cutthroat trout. While the South Fork of the Salmon is often overshadowed by its neighboring river, the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the ecosystems are actually very similar. The main difference – the Middle Fork is protected by the wild and scenic rivers act and is sheltered within the Frank Church Wilderness while the South Fork is not afforded those same protections. Although the South Fork meets every criteria necessary to be listed as a wild and scenic river, there has been minimal legislative success in trying to protect it under the act. This is in part due to the monetary value found in its headwaters.

 

What was once a prolific salmon and steelhead fishery was nearly destroyed by reckless mining practices of the past. Since mining began in the 1800s, the South Fork of the Salmon drainage has been plagued with high levels of mercury, arsenic, and antimony, poisoning its many tributaries. After mining operations ceased in the ‘60s, the watershed entered a long restorative process. Aided by support from the Nez Perce Tribe and other conservation organizations, the watershed has been able to make an impressive comeback. Today, bull and cutthroat populations are some of the healthiest in the state, and portions of the critical salmonid spawning habitat found in the watershed are still in pristine condition. Midas Gold threatens to destroy all of it. 

Midas has coined the propagandistic slogan “Restore The Site” in an effective yet untransparent outreach campaign. They advertise their “environmentally-driven” staff, their desire to “leave the site better than they found it,” and how their presence in the area will actually be beneficial to the well-being of the ecosystem. What they aren’t so quick to advertise, however, is that the plans they have in place involve altering the course of a free-flowing East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River by diverting it through a mile-long tunnel in the ground, burying critical bull trout spawning habitat under 330 feet of toxic mine tailings, building a new access road that borders the Frank Church Wilderness and runs through some of Idaho’s most avalanche-prone terrain, and digging two new open-pit mines. 

The East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon flows directly through an open pit left over from previous mining, forming a huge pond. The headwaters of the East Fork, located above the pit, were once populated each year by hundreds of chinook salmon and steelhead returning to spawn. However, the stream flowing into the pit is now too steep for fish to navigate, leaving the headwaters effectively sterile. Midas’ plan to right this wrong is to divert the East Fork through a mile-long “fish tunnel,” which will, in theory, give the fish access to their historic spawning grounds during mining operations. There has been minimal if any, scientific consistency in favor of this idea actually working. It has never been tried before. If all goes according to plan, Midas claims they will be able to restore the East Fork to its historical gradient once mining operations are complete. 

Midas has also proposed a brand new access road that borders the Frank Church Wilderness (a portion of the largest area of wilderness in the lower 48). This new route cuts directly through critical elk migration paths and takes equal, if not greater, amounts of risk than the one in place. The road, which will navigate the divide between the South Fork and Middle Fork’s drainages, runs through some of Idaho’s most avalanche prone terrain. 

Midas’ current plan for tailings storage (waste rock that comes out of the mine) happens to be directly on top of Meadow Creek, a spawning stream for bull trout. Each year, resident bull trout of the South Fork watershed make their way into the small streams of the headwaters to spawn. Hundreds of fish return to the East Fork South Fork Salmon River and its tributaries each year. Midas wants to bury Meadow Creek under millions of tons of toxic mine tailings, 330 feet high. This would destroy Meadow Creek forever. 

Not only does Midas hope to re-mine the Stibnite Pit, but they also plan on digging two new pits of similar size in other parts of the region. Historic mining has shown what these open pit mines can do to the ecosystem, and the skeptic in me is doubtful that Midas will be able to successfully mine all of their proposed pits without negatively altering the watershed and overall ecosystem for decades. Midas promises that they will “correct the damage of the past” while simultaneously tripling the mining footprint in the area—a claim that seems just too good to be true. 

The risk of disaster at the Stibnite site in particular is far too great. Not only would Midas’ best-case scenario have extreme adverse effects on the ecosystem, but when you factor in all of the risk that comes with human error or natural disasters, the probability of ecological degradation skyrockets. In the USA, 70% of all gold mines poison the area’s water supply. Midas is no exception. Between the frequent avalanches in the area every winter, the one-lane dirt roads used to move truckloads of mine tailings, and the fragility of the South Fork of the Salmon watershed, the probability of a chemical spill into the drainage isn’t just possible, it’s likely. If and when a truck does drive into the upper East Fork, or an avalanche blows out the Stibnite road, or an earthquake destroys or compromises the tailings dam, the entire South Fork of the Salmon watershed could be poisoned for decades.

 

Midas threatens to undo the hard work of so many for the profit of so few. The Nez Perce Tribe’s Department of Fisheries Resources Management spends approximately 2.5$ million a year on fisheries research, watershed restoration, and hatchery supplementation in the South Fork of the Salmon drainage. This is all on top of countless other conservation organizations dedicating time and energy to cleaning up the site. Reopening the Stibnite mine would undoubtedly negate decades of work and millions of dollars spent restoring the South Fork watershed. 

As of August 2020, Midas is in the final stages of their permitting process. Just this week, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released—one of the final legal documents in Midas’ fight for permitting. In common practice, the US Forest Service authors this document weighing the possible environmental threats of mining operations on a case-to-case basis. However, in this case, Midas Gold has been granted permission to author a portion of the DEIS’ Biological Assessment. If it seems strange to allow a mining company to author a document examining the potential risk that said mining company poses to the environment, it’s because it is. Very rarely, if ever, are same party organizations allowed to compose portions of their own DEIS. Four years ago Midas had requested permission to conduct the fisheries analysis portion of their own Biological Assessment and were denied by the Forest Service. They then applied more pressure and were granted permission on their second request (2016’s change in US presidential administration certainly didn’t hurt their cause). 

Now that the DEIS has been published, a 75 day public comment period will follow. This comment period allows any members of the public to learn about the DEIS and provide feedback to the Forest Service and to Midas. For those in opposition to the mine, this comment period will be a crucial opportunity to delay— or even stop entirely—Midas’ permitting process. Once the comment period closes, the US Forest Service will work with Midas to shape a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which will then be handed off to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for evaluation. Pending a decision from the EPA, Midas will either be granted or denied permission to begin mining operations. If they get the permitting they are after, Midas will occupy Stibnite for nearly three decades, extract 16$ billion (with a capital B) in gold, and risk destroying one of Idaho’s most pristine watersheds forever.

King Midas learned his lesson the hard way. His wish was granted—all that he touched turned to gold, but at a supreme cost. King Midas’ touch rendered everything that came into contact with it lifeless, purposeless, and completely worthless aside from its monetary value. He might as well have turned it all to dust. It is my hope that Midas Gold Incorporated won’t be allowed to follow its namesake too closely. If they are permitted to begin mining operations, they will leave the watershed lifeless, purposeless, and soulless. They will destroy a living, breathing, thriving ecosystem and leave millions of tons of toxic waste rock in its place. While an elite few profit from this exploitation, the many—salmon and steelhead, bull trout, the ecosystem as a whole, indigenous peoples, anglers, and recreationists—must pay the price of man’s undying greed for money and power. 

What can be done to protect the South Fork of the Salmon? The public comment period will be the most efficient way to generate momentum in favor of protecting the ecosystem. If you are interested in taking action, please consider asking for an extension of the public comment period by emailing Forest Supervisor Linda Jackson (linda.l.jackson@usda.gov) and requesting a 120 day comment period. This extension is more than reasonable as the DEIS is thousands of pages long. In order to allow all members of the public to digest and formulate opinions on the DEIS, a comment period of only 75 days is insufficient. Now that the comment period is open, the best way to take action for the South Fork watershed will be to submit a comment. It is imperative that conservationists and anglers generate as much momentum as possible in opposition with Midas Gold, and there is no better time than right now. Written comments can be submitted online via the US Forest Service Website, or by mail. Due to current circumstances regarding Covid-19, it is unlikely that the option to comment at a public hearing will be available, though there may be monthly conferences by phone. Comments must be submitted no later than October 28th. To learn more about how to write effective comments for conservation, please visit www.idahoconservation.orgwww.idahorivers.org, www.digforthetruth.org, or www.savethesouthforksalmon.com

The 2020 Fly Fishing Film Tour Goes Digital

Get your ticket today for the Special Virtual Release!

That’s right folks, the greatest selection of fly fishing films is about to go live online. For one week only, starting on August 27th the good people over at the F3T have decided to release a special edition of the 2020 Fly Fishing Film Tour, available to stream entirely online! While we can’t all get together in a theater to cheer, raise a beer with friends and enjoy epic fishing footage, we can still gather from afar.  The online version will include special content, more prizes than you can shake your phone at, and stoke- lots and lots of stoke. This is going to be just like your usual F3T event, just from your couch. So join us for the first-ever Virtual Fly Fishing Film Tour between August 27th to September 2nd!

Featuring exclusive shorts from our friends coast to coast, and beyond, the 2020 F3T will tell the stories of everything from fishing guide fairytales, to serial steelhead semantics, canyon conservation in Colorado, mountain biking for marlin, jumping jaguars and jungle fish in whitewater rapids and the audacious Aussies who explore the largest coastline in the world. From saltwater to fresh, this year’s film will undoubtedly get you fired up to grab a rod and get out on the water!!!

The Details:

This is for one week only! From August 27th through September 2nd, you will be able to purchase a digital ticket, which will allow you to watch the 2020 F3T for one week after purchase. Once you have purchased your ticket you will have access to a special 10 minute waiting room video before the event begins! If you watch the entire wading room video, you will have an opportunity to put your name into the raffle prize drawing twice. This is a special offer.

As far as prizes are concerned, there are more than ever before! Because this is such a special occasion, the team at F3T wants to hook you up. With your ticket purchase, you will be entered to win over 50 different sponsor items, totaling to upwards of $50,000! There will be 8 Dry Creek Z Backpacks given away, a Men’s G4/Womens G3 prize package raffled off, as well as prizes from Yeti, Costa, Thomas & Thomas Rods, Scientific Anglers, Ross Reels, Oscar Blues Brewing Company; you will even have a chance to win a trip to the Seychelles courtesy of Yellowdog Fly Fishing Company & Alphonse Fishing Company. Everyone that wins a prize will also receive a free membership to Trout Unlimited.

In addition to the 2020 films, F3T will also be announcing some free content that comes along with your purchase. You won’t be disappointed.

If you choose to purchase your ticket to a national tour event, a limited number of F3T hats and buffs will be available for you to pick up from the fly shops listed on the event page. You can also find links on these pages to support raffles or donate to local conservation and non-profit groups.

To learn more, make sure you head over to the Fly Fishing Film Tour website to learn more about this one-time virtual event. There, you can see all of the film trailers, find out more about how to access the films, and see all the other great prizes on offer. Also, make sure to follow along with their social channel for updates throughout the virtual week- @flyfishingfilmtour.

Simms Signs the Outdoor CEO Pledge

Simms is proud to announce that our CEO, Casey Sheahan, has signed the Outdoor CEO Pledge – an initiative launched through the In Solidarity Project. The Pledge’s goal is to bring the outdoor industry together to help improve representation and access for underrepresented communities across the country, an initiative Simms is firmly invested in. 

As a company committed to conservation, clean water and equal representation, having diversity in our sport is essential for creating more advocates for our natural resources. Let’s move the industry forward collectively.

To better understand what the Outdoor CEO Pledge is all about and what is expected from Simms, check out the interview below with Teresa Baker, the Founder of the In Solidarity Project and the Outdoor CEO Pledge. She sheds light on the origins of the movement, what brands are expected to do after signing, and so much more.

SIMMS: Why don’t we start at the beginning. Can you please tell us who you are what you do?

Teresa: I’m Teresa Baker, and I founded the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge back in January of 2018, and launched it at the summer OR show that very same year. The purpose of the pledge is to simply engage with outdoor brands and help them with the work of inclusion in their marketing and social media campaigns as well as their hiring practices. 

SIMMS: What was the inspiration back in 2018 to launch the CEO Diversity Pledge? Were you working in the space prior to launching the pledge? How did this all begin for you?

Teresa: Most things that I do are prompted by me being pissed off and angry. I don’t try and hide that from people. So this initiative was born out of frustration. I was taking to social media, especially Instagram, and not seeing anyone that looked like me on the various outdoor brands’ platforms. I wasn’t seeing people of color, and that was frustrating. I thought, ‘let me start reaching out to some of these brands and make them aware that they need to do better.’ That was the purpose behind me creating the pledge. 

I felt like that we could give a space for brands and retailers to do better. Once we started having those conversations, it became clear that yeah, there’s an issue. It’s not to say that things have changed dramatically over 2 years because they haven’t, but things have started to change and that’s good. People are having these conversations, I’m seeing more representation across social media platforms, and that’s awesome to see. 

SIMMS: We are roughly 2 years in the lifespan of the pledge- how’s it been going so far?

Teresa: Busy as hell lately. I would say for the first year of the pledge, it was us reaching out to everyone, making sure they were aware of the pledge. We spent lots of time walking the floor of the retailer shows, speaking to heads of marketing and doing a bunch of outreach on our behalf. It was challenging in the beginning. In saying that, 2020 has been amazing. People have continuously reached out to us and asked for help with their attempt of taking on this work of DEI. In the past 2 months alone, I think we’ve signed on 85 new brands, so its super busy at the moment. 

Some of the industries like cycling and fishing were the hardest to reach. Cycling is still hard. I believe angling is starting to come around, and that’s a good sign. 

SIMMS: If cycling and fishing were two of the hardest industries to break into, what were some of the easier activities to break into?

Teresa: The hiking and the climbing community were definitely the easiest. The misconception out there is that people of color “don’t.” They don’t hike, don’t climb, don’t ski, don’t cycle, or are not fishing. It’s easy to do away with those perceptions when brands show us doing those things. 

As you can imagine, it’s easy to show people hiking. Even if it was just down a straight trail, that’s easy to find. Wherever you go, there’s a hiking trail. Fishing on the other hand, there has to be water around. You have to actually get out and seek those images. So, it’s a matter of getting out there and reaching out to these underrepresented communities and saying ‘hey we want to work with you on some of these campaigns, can we tag along on your next outing.’ For me it has always been that simple. But that message wasn’t getting to marketing directors like it is now. 

SIMMS: What are your thoughts about the fishing community in regard to taking on inclusion and diversity? 

Teresa: You know it’s funny, growing up, fishing is all my dad did. He had a boat and he would go fishing almost every weekend. Fishing was never uncommon to me, I just don’t like it. My point is that it’s not a matter of people of color not being out there fishing- we always been fishing. I think the difference now is that we see the importance of sharing these stories and sharing these images of us doing that so that it does become common place. 

For those of us that work on matters of diversity and inclusion, getting the word out to other people saying ‘hey show us your photos, share them on social media, tag this brand, you know include this hashtag so that we become more visible.’ So I think it’s a matter of us making ourselves more visible.

SIMMS: Sitting here today, it is an absolute no brainer to get on board and support the In Solidarity initiative. Was there any push back from brands when you first started? Were people saying no to you?

Teresa: It wasn’t a matter of people saying no, it was just a matter of people not returning my emails or calls. I guess in a way that’s a no, but I think people see this. I have way too much faith in humanity to say they don’t see the problem. People see the problem. I think the concern is that brands want to be certain in how they address the problem. They don’t want to make mistakes, they want to get it right. What I try and get across to people is to not let that be your focus- you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get it wrong. What we need to do is give people the opportunity to try, fail, then try again. And that is the message we have and are still trying to get out into the industry so that people don’t feel so pressured to get it right all the time. 

SIMMS: As far as the pledge itself is concerned, what does the relationship look like after a brand signs. What are brands expected to do once they sign? Can you give us a quick rundown of what happens once someone signs?

Teresa: Sure. What we want to get across to people is that we can give you the tools, but you must do the work. We can’t do the work for you. We can’t write out a game plan and say ‘here follow these steps and you’ll be successful.’ Brands have to have skin in the game from the CEO, which is why its called the CEO pledge. The CEO does not need to take the lead but he or she must be involved in this work. Once they sign the pledge, we say ‘okay- ready, set, go!’ Get out there and talk to your marketing director, come up with a game plan and look at how other signatorees are going about doing this work. follow their lead, follow their example. You don’t have to recreate the wheel. 

For me, the easiest part of the pledge is the visibility part of it. Show more images of color across your social media platforms. Chris Perkins, who works with me on the pledge, thought that putting up a pretty picture was way too easy and we needed to add other elements. So we also look at the hiring process. I believe companies need to advertise in spaces that reach a wider range of candidates and not continue to post in your usual places because you’re constantly reaching the same candidates over and over again. Next, we look at the ambassador team. We want to make sure that your ambassadors are from diverse backgrounds. The fourth component is simply working with other pledge signatorees. To show that as a collective, you’re doing this work. Work with one another to come up with a plan. So those are basically the 4 elements.

SIMMS: You mentioned the job board, which we think is an extremely valuable component of your initiative. Could you give us a bit of background on the start of the job board and how its speaking to a different audience base than your typical job boards?

Teresa: The Insolidarity website is where the pledge and the job board are housed. When we first started in 2018, the pledge was housed on the website of diversify outdoors because we didn’t know how well the pledge was going to do so we didn’t really see a need to create a webpage behind it. Brands started to constantly reach out saying where can we post about jobs. So, 3 months ago Brian from the outbound collective reached out and said let me build a website for the pledge and the job board, so we created the In Solidarity website. That way they can reach communities of color, communities with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, so it’s a wider range, a wider reach that this job board provides. 

SIMMS: Have people been finding jobs through it?

Teresa: Yes. I get emails all the time from people thanking us for providing this service to them. And that’s basically what it is- its providing a service so that people will know, if we post here we will have a better chance of reaching a more diverse pool of candidates if that is indeed what they are looking to do. We’ve gotten tons from people that have applied for those jobs, so yeah, its definitely working. 

SIMMS: Where do you see this going in a year from now? How about 3 years from now? What’s your outlook on this whole situation?

Teresa: Over the next year or two I want to pledge to continue to grow. I want people to see how positive of a resource it is. It can connect so many companies with DEI agents across the country. Under our community tab were building a database of DEI agents and creatives across all of outdoors- be it hiking, skiing, whatever it is. These are all amazing people who can help do this work of DEI. 

In 3 years I hope to do away with the pledge. I don’t want the pledge to be around forever. When they look for ambassadors, they automatically include people from underrepresented communities. When they hire, they automatically seek out diverse candidates. Whatever aspects of business they’re in, I want the role of the pledge to just be automatic and there not need for a pledge or to sign onto a pledge. In 3 years I’d like to do away with the pledge.

SIMMS: We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what is being done on a brand level. As Simms, we signed the pledge and are taking steps to make changes in our organization. What do you think the average outdoorsmen can do to help with the diversity issue? It’s all well and good for a company to say and do something, but for the millions of individual recreationalists out there, what do they do?

Teresa: As a consumer, if I see a certain brand and I’ve grown accustomed to using, and at some point I start to notice something that could possibly help them, I am going to reach out to that brand. For someone who enjoys fishing and understands the importance of conservation or the protection of outdoors spaces- if they see that certain individuals are not represented equally- I would certainly reach out and say hey this work can definitely use more X, Y, Z. You fill in the blank. More women, more people of color, more people with disabilities. So that would be my ask of the public. These are some issues that we are facing around environmental protection and in order to bring more people to the table, look at who you are missing from the conversation. And when you see who’s missing encourage these brands that you use to be more inclusive of them. 

SIMMS: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the Simms audience?

Teresa: I think what’s important is that you guys use your voice. You know, we get reached out to all the time from publications and what not asking for interviews and I’m like sure, but what say you? What do you all think? The brands, the marketing directors, the CEOs, what do you all think? Because your voice matters, too. I would encourage brands, their marketing teams, their ambassadors, to speak out and speak up and share with the public what your thoughts are on diversity and inclusion. The public hears from loud mouths like me all the time, but we don’t hear from marketing directors or CEOs directly. Signing the pledge is a public announcement, yes, but put some words behind that. Why? Why are you doing this?  Why is it important to you? That’s what I would encourage you all to do. 

Under the Hood of the All-New Pro Dry Jacket and Bib

Simms Releases the Next Evolution of the Ultimate Foul Weather Fortress

Simms Pro, Brent Ehrler Takes the New Pro Dry Jacket and Bib for a Test Drive.

After its initial release, Simms’ Pro Dry Jacket and Bib (Pro Dry Suit) quickly earned the reputation as the ultimate foul weather suit. So much so, serious anglers began looking at the suit less and less like clothing and more and more like mission critical gear they wouldn’t leave the dock without. But Simms does not rest on our laurels. Since technology and performance are part of the Simms DNA, the product team spared little to no time thinking about how the Prodry should evolve and become even better. So, after countless hours of design, development, and field testing in torrential downpours, choppy open water crossings, rough seas, and high winds — the all-new Pro Dry Jacket and Bib were born. 

Meet Camo Connoisseur, Joe Skinner

In Depth with the Creator of Simms All-New Riparian Camo, a Pattern Designed to Up Your Odds Against Distinguishing Trout.

Ask any angler who chases spooky fish what their favorite aspect of the game is and you’ll get the same response:  It’s like hunting. And they’re right. Hunting and this type of fishing are nearly one in the same. Whether it’s sneaking around in the mountains for elk, or getting into to the perfect casting position to present a dry fly to a sipping brown trout — both types of stalks place the utmost importance on stealth. Hunters have been wearing camouflage to blend in to their surroundings since the beginning of time, so doesn’t it make sense to do the same when hunting fish? We certainly think so, which is why we partnered with the best in the concealment business, Veil Camo. Since this partnership started, Veil has cranked out a handful of fish focused camouflage patterns. Check out our conversation below with Veil’s founder, Joe Skinner and learn a little bit more about his obsession, his company, and the design and development process of Simms’ brand new pattern, Riparian Camo.