We are TU: Meet Cory Golden

We care about clean water, healthy fisheries and vibrant communities. We roll up our sleeves to volunteer, we sit on our boards, and we strategize as members and leaders of staff. We want you to join us.    

Thanks to initiatives such as TU’s decades-old Women’s Initiative – now Diversity and Inclusion Initiative – and those of our partners, new groups have engaged in coldwater conservation and the sport of fly fishing. The aim of this blog series is to highlight these friends, in hopes of making many new friends of broad stripes. In this series you’ll meet people of diverse communities – our good ideas, what we have in common, and where we differ. Know someone we should feature? Nominate them here.   

Since it’s not possible to sit down and have coffee or spend an afternoon on the river to show you what we’re up to, a blog post will have to do. As you read, we hope you’ll consider joining us. We need your ideas to help make a bigger impact.     

Together, we’ll help protect the special places we love.     

Cory is the 2020 president of the Adams Chapter in Michigan. His nomination described him as, “young, energetic, and passionate about cold water conservation” and described his work toward youth enrichment and setting up a women’s committee to encourage more women to be out on the water. It was a pleasure learning more about Cory and we can’t wait to see what the Adams Chapter accomplishes under his leadership.

Introducing: Cory Golden (Instagram @streamsidescotch)

Where do you live?  Traverse City, Mich. 

Briefly, what’s your history with conservation? I think back, and my respect for nature started with my dad often stopping the car to pull snapping turtles out of the middle of the road to save them from becoming road kill. Conservation, in some way, has influenced nearly every aspect of my life: from cutting up plastic can holders with my first Swiss Army knife, to now being President of the Adams Chapter. Conservation is a never-ending admiration and respect for the world around me….and yes, I do stop my car to help snapping turtles cross the road.  

What is your history with fishing? Fishing started at a young age with canned corn and a Zebco rod catching blue gill and catfish. Always catch and release, mainly because I was often fishing in retention ponds. I was about 10 years old when I picked up a fly rod (because how hard could it be?) and, in a stiff head wind, got the fly hooked in my cheek. I was hooked (no pun intended) and spent many years dabbling between spin fishing and the fly. Leaving Northern Michigan to go to college outside of Detroit, I’d break away to fish the Huron River in Ypsilanti, and learned as a young adult the serenity of fly fishing. Returning back north after college, I became involved in the fly fishing community and began building great friendships and becoming a fair to decent fly-tier.  

Describe one challenge you face and how you overcome it. The beauty of the region that I live in comes with relatively long winters, and it’s hard not to get bummed out with lesser daylight and fewer hours outside. In overcoming this, I really turn to the local fly-fishing community. Whether it ishaving a beer and doing some tying at the fly shop while shooting the breeze about warmer days, or planning our next chapter event over coffee, getting out of the house is beneficial. 

What does ‘giving back’ mean to you? I have really been blessed to have some great mentors in life: a more experienced angler that took me out and taught me how to read a river and safely wade while putting up with my less-than-perfect casts. Folks who introduced me to beautiful areas and explained the work that went into restoring or protecting them. To give back is to pass it along, introducing others to the outdoors with enthusiasm and patience, having folks experience time outside in such a way that it empowers them to continue to get out. Then comes the conservation, which can seem like a distant concept until they recognize that it is simply caring for the places we love, and working to make them better and preserving them for future generations. 

The beauty of the region that I live in comes with relatively long winters, and it’s hard not to get bummed out with lesser daylight and fewer hours outside. In overcoming this, I really turn to the local fly-fishing community.

Cory Golden

Describe a perfect day. To me, the perfect day starts with a cup of coffee at sunrise, made from river water in a percolator over an open fire. No cell phone signal. For a perfect day I’ve packed a hand full of trail mix, beef jerky, a three weight fly rod, and a box full of dry flies. After a morning on the river, the afternoon sun brings a nap in hammock, then yields to a sunset and trout chasing dancing caddis. Evening spent under a starlit Northern Michigan sky with a chill in the air and bourbon in a tin cup. 

What would you grab if your house was on fire? Assuming I could carry it all, I’d grab my grandfather’s fly-rod, original artwork by my mother, my banjo, and the kilt I was married in.  

If you could squeeze just one more thing into your regular routine, what would it be?  I would love to have more time to read for pleasure. Just reading, no multitasking. 

What do you want to see in the future of Trout Unlimited or in conservation? Looking forward, I feel that encouraging and involving the next generation to care for our resources is paramount, while we work to preserve and better the legacy we leave. Conservation needs to transcend political and identity boundaries, folks of all walks of life should be encouraged to enjoy and claim collective ownership of public lands and waters. 

What is an example of something awesome you’ve seen that helps make conservation or fishing more inclusive to new groups of people?  I’ve found the most effective approach is simply slowing down and getting back to basics. By in large, many folks are intimidated by the idea of being a part of a conservation organization or feel like they need to be Brad Pitt and ‘Shadow Cast” in order to be a fly-fisher. Being approachable, patient, and getting back to the fundamental of the sport by creating entry level opportunities in a safe environment makes our organization inclusive. I’ve found that by giving people an experience in the outdoors and equipping them with skills to continue confidently and enjoy the outdoors, builds a sense ownership of the resources within them. Once they build a memory, its like they suddenly understand why conservation matters on a personal level. Simply put, conservation and stewardship grows out of participation. 

Teddy Roosevelt’s indomitable spirit really resonates with me. He was a man who appreciated that which was greater than himself yet set no cap on what he was willing to work for.

Cory Golden

Name a person you admire. Why do you admire them? As a conservationist and outdoorsman, Teddy Roosevelt’s indomitable spirit really resonates with me. He was a man who appreciated that which was greater than himself yet set no cap on what he was willing to work for. Additionally, he recognized the power of nature to nourish the human spirit and had the foresight to preserve so many of our country’s beautiful landscapes.  

Why Trout Unlimited?  Having spent many years just forty-odd miles from Grayling, Michigan, many times I have first-hand enjoyed the waters that inspired the founding of Trout Unlimited. It is so difficult to imagine an aspect of cold water resource conservation, let alone trout angling, that has not in some way been impacted by the mission of Trout Unlimited. As an avid fly-fisher and lover of the outdoors, I recognize how Trout Unlimited is vital to our shared culture and the environment we so much enjoy. I am proud to be a part of national organization with so many dynamic and passionate individuals all working towards one common goal.   

If you want to join Cory and grow the community and work of Trout Unlimited, we encourage you to become a member! For a discounted first-time membership, click here: https://gifts.tu.org/we-are-tu  

By Jenny Weis.