Blackfoot River Outfitters, Flint Creek Outdoors battling through the outbreak

These are difficult times. COVID-19 has all of us on edge. Millions of us are under lockdown. Millions more are isolating themselves and practicing social distancing, limiting their personal contact with others. It’s a global pandemic, and it’s serious business. In communities across the US and around the world, we’re all experiencing it. We’re all in the same boat.

What we do as fly anglers — what Trout Unlimited does as an organization — affects millions of others around the world. In a very real and very immediate sense, it affects our TU Business members. These members have supported us at every level of our organization from the local chapter banquet to the lobbying in Washington, DC. Now, it’s time for us to support them because we’re all in the same boat.

We’re asking all 300,000 Trout Unlimited members to support our Business members in these uncertain times. Buy some gift cards — in fact, buy a lot of gift cards. Buy some gear. If you can’t or don’t want to go in person, do it online or by phone. But do it. They aren’t nameless, faceless corporate entities. They’re real people with real families who depend on them. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring some of them here. And we hope you’ll support them all. We’re all part of the TU Team.

One of my many favorite members of that team is my friend John Herzer. John and his wife Terri Raugland own Blackfoot River Outfitters in Missoula, Mont., and Flint Creek Outdoors in Philipsburg, Mont. I remember something John told me a long time ago: “Disseminating timely, accurate information is literally the essence of our business. That’s why I wasn’t surprised recently when I saw an email from John and Terri to their customers giving the unvarnished truth (a Herzer specialty) about COVID-19 and its impacts on their operations.

Most importantly, it talked about the steps they were taking to protect themselves, their staff and their customers. Things like an entire list of protocols developed in consultation with a doctor outlining safety precautions including physical distancing, curbside pickup, and more. The more I thought about it, the more I appreciated that.  I’ve been in these shops. They’re friendly places. But they’re safe places, too.  Even in difficult times, they’re places where you feel a sense of community – a spirit of being with great people, engaged in something we really love.

If I’ve learned anything in 42 years as a conservation professional, it is that all of us need one another. Conservation needs fly anglers and fly shops, and conversely. We need good information. Not just about where the fishing is hot and which flies are knocking them dead, but about how we can interact safely with one another and how we can still buy gear and make plans for fishing, even at a time like this. Trust Blackfoot River Outfitters and Flint Creek Outdoors to know that. They know we’re all part of the same community, and we’re all in the same boat.

  • Blackfoot River Outfitters, Inc.     
  • Missoula, MT 59808                                                                                       
  • (406) 542-7411                                                                                                  

By Walt Gasson.