A note from the new President

I love fly fishing. I mean, I really, really love fly fishing. I have loved it for what amounts to a very long time in my 35 years on this planet.


I love high-sticking ginormous freestone browns. I love the overwhelming perfume of sunscreen, fish slime, and Gink on a hot summer day. I love putting on layer after layer in the dark morning quiet in preparation for a mid-winter’s float on the Collie. I love the intensely aggressive head shake of a healthy Gunni ‘bow, the Mack truck pull of a carp through a scummy pond, and the bittersweet gut-punch of getting skunked. I love attempting to wet-wade way too early in the season. I love my turn on the sticks as much as I love getting tight. I love a gear-down-beer-down back at the truck, and I love cold fried chicken out of the Yeti. I love asking what’s working. I love answering the same question.


I love to see eagles, muskrats, hawks, herons, mink, kingfishers, ermine, and otters. I love the geology of rivers, the intricate strata of the rocks above and the gravel and sand beneath my Chacos. I love the glee in a child’s eyes as they hold their first fish caught on a fly rod. I love the glee in a adult’s eyes as they do the same.


I love to tie flies and untangle wind knots. I love stripping streamers and twitching dry flies.


I tolerate nymphing. But not well.


Long story short, I love fly fishing.


And that, dear members of Trout Unlimited Chapter 319, is what brings me to you. My deep love for this sport, the people who practice it, and the places it occurs have delivered me here. Because of my passion for fly fishing, I have been nominated and elected to serve as president of this fine chapter — Grand Valley Anglers — and to lead our board and our members in our pursuit of our shared love — fly fishing in cold, clean, clear, and most importantly, fishy waters. I could not be more honored by the trust you have put in me, an absolute newcomer to the chapter, to lead us in our efforts of conservation, education, and community building. I promise you I will do everything in my power during the tenure of my administration to uphold the values of this chapter and of Trout Unlimited. Because, you see, I love fly fishing.


I must give credit where credit is due and thank my predecessor, Ben Bloodworth, for his incredible effort and progress during his tenure as chapter president. His vision, positive attitude, and hard work are an inspiration for me, and I am grateful he will remain on the board as past-President, helping to back row me away from any rocks and rapids in my path. If you happen to see Ben out and about, please be sure to thank him for his time and service to this organization! We wish him the very best as he continues his path on the regional TU board.


I would also like to welcome aboard our newly elected board members, joining an already capable team as we look toward the future. Mike Rutter, Dave Combs, Kari Sewell, and Tyler Morris all join as Board Members At-Large, and infamous local celebrity and guide extraordinaire Jeff McKenna will be my right hand man as Vice President of the chapter. Along with the current board members, we are extremely energized and excited to move this chapter in to the future.


And that, my friends, is where we must go. The future is beckoning with all its might for us to follow. The next generation of fly anglers are looking to us to uphold our commitment to the preservation of trout habitat. They are looking to us to teach them the ways of the long rod. The beauty of a double-haul, of a half-hitch, of catch and release.  The future is bright, but only if it is properly prepared for. Outreach and education for young anglers must be a top priority for this chapter. Only through engagement with the fly anglers of tomorrow can we ensure the continued success of this organization and our shared love. The love that brings us all back to the river as often as we can. To the places where trout live — and with our stewardship, thrive — in perpetuity.


I want to thank all of you, our members, for the opportunity to preside over this chapter. I also want to remind all of you, our members, that the board cannot and must not bear the sole responsibility of upholding our chapter’s mission. It falls to each of us as members to do what we can, where we are, with what we have. Perhaps that means picking up a couple of extra pieces of trash along the riverbank as you walk out. Perhaps it means merely renewing your membership annually, ensuring your dollars go to support something you care about. Perhaps it’s making a more significant financial donation to the cause. Perhaps it is volunteering at events, fly tying with Project Healing Waters, or teaching students to cast. Maybe it’s sending a message to our elected representatives at state and federal levels to prioritize the protection of our natural resources when legislating. Whatever you can do must be done.


Finally, I’d like to remind all our members that the board serves you. I am a firm believer in servant leadership, so if you feel you are not being adequately represented, communicated with, or involved as much as you desire, I ask you to please let me know. I have taken over administration of the grandvalleyanglers319@gmail.com email account, and encourage you to reach me there. You can also get information and communicate with the board through our Facebook and Instagram feeds, so be sure to like and follow us on those social media platforms as well for great content. We are also working to update the website, ensuring it is a source for reliable, frequently-updated news of the chapter. Much more to come in the next few months!


Thank you all for this opportunity. Now it’s time to get to work!


Tight lines,


Pete Ashman

President, Grand Valley Anglers


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