I think I met Link Jackson from StreamTech Boats not long after I came to work at Trout Unlimited. I’m pretty sure it was in Missoula, and I recall our conversation clearly. Mostly, I remember thinking, “Wow! This guy knows boats!” First impressions are sometimes misleading, but this one wasn’t. It was dead-on. This guy most definitely knows boats.
Link engineered the very first StreamTech boats in 1997. He came from a family tied to backcountry guiding and outfitting. He had floated and fly fished the legendary streams of Montana, acquiring a taste for whitewater and wilderness expeditions. He wanted to create a boat with all the drift-fishing amenities developed in the hard drift boat world, but in a class V-capable inflatable. At the same time, he had a young family and wanted to create a stable, safe and versatile craft for family expeditions. The StreamTech boat started out as a sideline business, but quickly grew to be the powerful force in the river boat market it is today.
A big part of that success came when StreamTech partnered with Maravia Corporation to build their boats. Maravia builds a tough, durable boat that includes their “drop-stitch” floors that are key to many of the outstanding performance characteristics of these boats. Family trip on slow and easy water? No problem. Weeklong class IV expedition wilderness run on the Middle Fork of the Salmon? Again, no problem. This is a boat for people who fish — no matter what river you fish.
These boats are designed and produced by people who cares about fish and fishing. It’s no big surprise that a company that makes fishing boats for free-flowing water should care about that water and its native fish. But that commitment runs bone deep at StreamTech. I really believe that people who build boats must know water and understand rivers in a very intimate way. People who build boats and fish from them must know them on a level that no one else does.
When Link and I first talked about the proposal to remove the four dams on the Lower Snake, his passion for the river and the fish that make it such an American treasure came through loud and clear.
“I think we have a responsibility to wild fish and to wild rivers,” Link said. “In the 1800’s, the Snake River produced runs of two million fish – over half of the spring/summer Chinook salmon and summer steelhead came from this one basin. Even today, if you look at the entire Columbia River Basin, the Snake River has by far the greatest potential for recovering wild salmon and steelhead in the entire watershed.”
He’s right. Even with significant areas of the Snake River blocked by impassable dams (Hells Canyon Complex and Dworshak) it still has tens of thousands of miles of high-quality salmon and steelhead habitat in the Clearwater, Salmon, Grand Ronde and Imnaha sub-basins. About 46 percent of Idaho’s historic spawning and rearing habitat for spring and summer Chinook Salmon and summer steelhead is still accessible. Mile-for-mile, the Snake River basin contains the coldest, most undisturbed stream habitats in the Lower 48. If we are going to make major investments in wild fish recovery in the Columbia Basin, the Snake is the place to put our money.
StreamTech Boats and Trout Unlimited stand proudly together in support of the proposal to “Remove the Lower Four.”