Odyssey profile: Anthony Ortiz

Editor’s note: Building off the success of last year’s Native Odyssey campaign, Trout Unlimited is sending four of our brightest college club leaders in the TU Costa 5 Rivers Program to explore the home of the world’s largest runs of wild salmon: Alaska. Starting July 5, these students will explore the Kenai Peninsula, Bristol Bay and the Tongass National Forest in pursuit of the five species of Pacific salmon and other native Salmonids that call Alaska home. In partnership with Costa Sunglasses, Simms Fishing Products, the U.S. Forest Service, Fishpond USA, and Orvis, these students will seek to unearth, document, and share the challenges facing the largest salmon fisheries in the world.

Growing up in Colorado led to some of my earliest memories, all filled with exploration and adventure. With access to mountains, rivers and lakes, my family was constantly wandering around our public lands.

I picked up a spinning rod at an extremely early age. I found myself playing soccer, baseball and biking, but nothing could compare to fishing. I was immediately obsessed and made sure every family outing had an opportunity or two for fishing.

I constantly ventured to local creeks with a handline after school just to feel a tug. My passion for fishing continued as I grew older, but it slowly dwindled until a friend introduced me to fly fishing on a camping trip in high school. I haven’t looked back since.

I am currently a sophomore at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I am studying business, and I hope to start my own business with a focus on sustainability once I graduate. I have Trout Unlimited and fly fishing to thank for my goals. If I hadn’t joined the fly fishing club at CU, I doubt I would be as passionate about sustainability. 

The fly fishing community at CU is very connected and aware. It is not difficult for everyone to get behind a common goal and make a difference, which is incredible. This year, I saw a lot of beginning fly fishers gain a new perspective on conservation and sustainability. Seeing this has driven me to become more involved within the club. I currently represent the CU club at TU chapter board meetings, and I am planning on taking over as the CU president once school starts back up this fall.

Once I heard about the Native Odyssey, I knew it was for me. Alaska is a mecca for anglers around the world. That being said, development could harm the Last Frontier. It is necessary to share the reality of these threats to the greater fly fishing community.

I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I am incredibly eager to embark on this journey.

—Anthony Ortiz

By Chris Hunt.