“No man steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
Heraclitus 535 – 475 BC
It is a quote that both excites and haunts me. Read one way, this quote can speak to the life-transforming power of the river. Season to season the river changes, while our time along its banks renews and changes us like a cottonwood anchored deep and drawing new life from its flow. Having spent any amount of time on the river, however, this same quote can be read as an ominous proclamation from a Dickensian spirit foreshadowing a future where our rivers and coldwater fisheries waste away.
For both progress and pleasure there are costs. Just as you must lay down your credit card in order to enjoy a bottle of aged Scotch Whiskey, so the growth of our suburbs, and trips to the water come at a cost to our rivers and fisheries. By no means am I calling for a halt to progress or limiting access to the river, but instead am advocating that those who love fishing and make withdrawals from the world of trout also invest in its future.
Just as we put aside money to pay the rent, regularly add to a 401k in preparation for retirement, or open a savings accounts in hopes that a newborn child might someday attend college, we invest in the future to ensure a quality life in years to come. As anglers and lovers of the wild, it is essential that we invest in the future of our coldwater fisheries, and there is no way better to do this than to join in the work of Trout Unlimited.
Trout Unlimited is the undisputed leader in the conservation of coldwater fisheries and state their vision as follows: “By the next generation, Trout Unlimited will ensure that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their North American range, so that our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters.” With almost $.89 of every dollar donated going into the river to restore trout trout habitat and to maintain access for anglers, TU is a group that we should all get behind to ensure a bright future for trout and the sport of fly fishing.
I will leave you now with the words of Aldo Leopold, “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth the cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see [trout] is more important than television.”
Like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we have a choice, an opportunity today to invest and give back, ensuring a bright future for trout and access to rivers that hold promises of restoration and change every time we wade their shores.
Ascent Fly Fishing is a proud business partner and supporter of Trout Unlimited. Over the last 2 years, we have provided over 1,100 free TU memberships to our friends and clients. With every $50 order from the Ascent Fly Fishing website we provide you with a Free Year’s Membership to TU, and it is our hope is that you will stand with us an advocate, investing in the waters and the trout that we all hold so dear.