US Fish and Wildlife Fishing/Hunting Participation Reports
US Fish and Wildlife Fishing/Hunting Participation Reports
Our June Member of the Month is the multi-talented Kirk Deeter. Kirk’s the VP of Trout Unlimited, the editor of the “Trout Media” Group, the editor of Angling Trade, and a contributing editor for Field & Stream. Odds are, if you read any publication in the sporting space, you’ve read something from Kirk. Here’s a bit more about our Member of the Month:
You have quite a few different roles in the fly-fishing industry. Can you give us a run-down?
Well… I’m a vice president of Trout Unlimited and the editor of the “Trout Media” group, which includes TROUT magazine, and TU’s digital and social media efforts. I’m the editor of Angling Trade, on which I have partnered with Tim Romano for the past 10 years. I’m a contributing editor for Field & Stream magazine. I write and edit books, and I write stories for other magazines, inside and outside of fly fishing. It sounds like more than it really is… it’s all kinda connected.
What (or who) got you into fly fishing?
I have always loved fishing, ever since I was a little boy. My grandfather got me into fishing with bait. My dad got me my first fly rod when I was 11. I grew up on Lake Michigan, and I used to fish before school, sometimes slinging caught salmon over my back and pedaling home on my Schwinn Stingray (which used to drive my mom nuts because I’d have to rewash for school). So I was a pretty fishy little dude. But I didn’t latch onto fly fishing until I started dating a girl while at college in Michigan. Her dad was really into fly fishing, and I figured I had to fly fish in order to make the cut. We’ve been married for 27 years now. So I say I took up fly fishing for a girl. And after that, my late father-in-law was most influential on fostering me along. I always joked that I was going to be a neurosurgeon or some captain of industry, but it was his fault that I turned into a fly-fishing writer/editor. He was cool with that. I took over as editor of TROUT right before he died, and he saw my first issue, which had a black-and-white cover of a fish taken out the back door of his cabin in Michigan (by his other son-in-law, Marco Lorenzetti). That was an homage and a thank you to him.
How has AFFTA membership benefitted you?
I think it’s great to stay connected with the people who really move and influence the sport. The most credible, the most committed, the most industrious types are those who participate in AFFTA, in my mind. As a writer and editor, I very much value my sources, and my best sources tend to come through AFFTA.
What’s one thing you wish AFFTA members knew about your work, and the entities you work with?
It’s very important to me to be a writer who happens to fish, rather than a fisherman who writes. There’s nothing wrong with either, but I really work on the writing and editing foremost, and I’ve written on a wide range of topics, from drugs in sports, to the World AIDS Conference, to bios and profiles, to the best hot dogs in Denver. I’ve gravitated to fly fishing because I genuinely love the sport, and am always learning. Seeing amazing places I never dreamed I’d see, and meeting great people along the way. And the conservation aspect is equally heartfelt. I don’t think any of this exists if we don’t pay attention to the natural resources. And if I could add a part B to that answer, I’d say, don’t be afraid to pitch me if you think you have a story. I’ll shoot straight with you.
When you’re not writing, what are you most likely to be found doing?
Fishing! Seriously, I’ve always said that you could cover the NFL without ever playing pro football; and you can cover politics without ever having run for, or held, a political office. But you’d better have your (stuff) in one bag when it comes to talking about the outdoors, particularly fishing. I try to fish 150 days a year, counting the after-dinner stops at the pond by our house, just to keep in the loop. Besides that, I play guitar, and I like golf, but I’m only fair at both. I love scuba diving and sailing. Like skiing. Bird hunting. Elk hunting with a recurve bow (haven’t killed one with it in years). Reading literary fiction and mysteries. Hanging out with my family and friends.
Our February member of the month is Bill Batson, of Batson Enterprises. Here’s what Bill had to say about the evolution of the brand:
Tell us about Batson Enterprises:
We are a U.S. family-owned and -operated company based in sunny Sequim, Washington. We started in this great industry back in 1980, my father the late “Bob Batson” started building rods in the family living room in Maui, Hawaii. He then opened up his custom rod-building shop “Phantom Rods” where he crafted some of the finest custom rods anyone had ever seen in Hawaii.
He was featured on TV with Mike Sakamoto “Fishing tales” five times for his craft and his fishing skills. He is also featured in the book Fishing Hawaii Style for his rod-building techniques. My father was considered the number-one go-to guy in the industry for many years. He worked and built another company in the industry for 10 years and brought them to the top of the industry.
We have been under this format under the family name Batson Enterprises since January 2000; we carry our labeled items under Rianshadow blanks, ALPS and Forecast Rod components and the popular NFC blanks by Gary Loomis .
We employ 21 in house professional who in my opinion are the best in our industry, and we are the “Nuts and Bolts” supplier of the fishing rod building industry, supplying everything from the rod blank to all the components to build a finished fishing rod.
Our 12,000 square-foot facility is dedicated to the craft/art/industry of rod building. We have well over 8,000 different parts to choose from in stock, including over 750 models of blanks, over 500 models under the Rainshadow Label and 250 models of the North Fork Composite label by Gary Loomis. We also do hundreds of “Private Label” blanks and components for almost every manufacturer in the USA.
Our dedicated Design Team works in solid works to design both custom blanks and components, and we have a dedicated team of project coordinators to track projects and communicate with our 400 wholesale customers worldwide.
We are a TEAM and in my opinion the finest at what we do in our industry.
Our main focus is to serve the industry and feed families. My father told me over 20 years ago that we will never get rich in this industry but we will enjoy what we do and feed families. I said sign me up.
I have been the team Captain (CEO) for the past 14 years since my father’s passing. The biggest compliment I have ever received was from an old timer in the industry, Ralph O’Quinn. He said the industry would bet that I would run the family business out of business within one year. And he wanted to shake my hand 10 years later.
I take a great responsibility and honor to be the Captain (CEO) of this team. We believe God is the owner of this company and it is our responsibility to be good stewards of what he has given us.
I am from the old school and enjoy doing business that way. I still do most of the traveling for the team. I go out every year to see clients personally. This is a very personal industry, I have friends/clients/partners that depend on me and my team to feed their families, I take this very serious.
This is a great industry/craft/art and I will do whatever I can to keep it alive. I am an American and I live the American dream…
What has AFFTA membership done for you?
Being part of AFFTA since I have been in this industry (over 20+ years) gives me and my team/family a place where we can be Americans in an industry that we love. It gives us a format to be part of a team the AFFTA team that cares about the resources and the fishing lifestyle.
I appreciate the opportunities they have given us and the future that is brighter in our industry because of the format they lay down for us.
Where can you be found when you’re not in the office?
When I am not in the office I am out and about on research and development trips fishing; I enjoy building new rod prototypes to take on these R&D trips. I am also a husband and proud father of three amazing children and two grandchildren.
Our December Member of the Month is Neville Orsmond, the CEO of Thomas & Thomas. Here’s what Neville had to say about business, fishing, and AFFTA membership:
Why Thomas & Thomas?
I grew up in South Africa, loving the outdoors. My dad had a group of university friends who were all hardcore bachelor-sportsmen. From the time I was eight years old, they would take me fly fishing and hunting. That’s all they cared about—fly rods, shotguns and Land Rovers. I was their lackey on the trips and they would tell stories of tiger fish in Tanzania, of GTs off the east coast of Mozambique. They lived for the wild and emphasized wildlife conservation.
When I was 18, my dad sent me to Napa, California for two years to study winemaking and shovel tanks. I fly fished some there, but it was tough because I didn’t have the money to get out much. I returned to South Africa for university. I was living in Port Elizabeth and surfed and fished for trout in small streams around there, or headed to Zimbabwe for tiger fish.
I started working for a company that installs automated parking systems, mainly in New York City. They sent me to New York. Every free moment, I was fly fishing. There was amazing access locally and with flights—from the East and West Branches of the Delaware River to the Bahamas. It was an exciting time. But I didn’t have a connection to my work.
My garage was filled with T&T fly rods. I loved the rods and what they stood for. There was so much tradition and heart in the company. Everyone thought I was nuts when I wanted to buy it, except my wife, Catherine. She said, “Yeah, you do have about half the garage filled with rods. This will be the best thing you ever do.”
It took me nearly eight months to purchase the company, but it finally happened in 2014. I drove up to Greenfield every day and stayed in a motel for a year. Finally, I moved Catherine and our twin two year-old daughters up here. It’s without a doubt one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
What are the origins of Thomas & Thomas, and how is the company growing and developing?
Thomas & Thomas was established in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1969 by legendary rod builders Tom Dorsey and Tom Maxwell. Since then, our mission’s never changed: to pursue innovation, superior quality and uncompromising performance in the creation of the world’s finest handcrafted fly rods. It’s this fixed purpose that first attracted me to the company.
We toe a fine line between the traditions of the past while confidently refining rod technology.
With master rod maker Tom Dorsey on board, we forged a collaboration. When I first acquired the company, I spent a lot of time just learning and understanding the production side, getting out on the floor at 7 AM every morning. It took quite a bit of time to really understand and identify what we wanted to invest into a rod. The company had fallen off the bus a bit with technology and machinery and that all had to be upgraded, an enormous undertaking.
We really had to work to get our name back out there, to get people to really understand who we are as a company and how we’re charting the future. T&T had everything. It was just a matter of showing anglers who we were, what we can do and how we can do it. It was awesome attending the first shows and getting face time with our customers.
We’ve got an incredible team that’s labored to get the name back in the game. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re on track. With the new rods, it’s just unbelievable. The feedback’s been amazing and everyone’s excited to cast them, bring them back into the shops and believe in us.
What excites you the most about T&T’s future?
I’m excited to build up, from human, natural resources and technological perspectives. During the time that I’ve worked with the team, it’s been amazing to see our employees come to really believe in themselves and what they’re doing.
The difference we can make as a company to preserve natural resources and make people aware excites me. We have a gateway through which to get people outside, to get them to teach their kids, to connect with the natural world.
Upholding and growing deeper into the company mission, doing whatever we can to produce the finest rods and get people to request them, that excites me.
I always have to challenge myself and this is an awesome challenge. This is everything I love—nature, fly fishing, people.
How has AFFTA membership benefitted you?
It’s benefited us tremendously. Especially through IFTD and the Dealer Summit. They bring the dealers and manufacturers together on a single platform where we can speak to each other as friends and business partners. They’ve put me I touch with all the right people and given me lots of advice and straight-up answers on how to approach certain challenges.
AFFTA puts our name and what we’re doing out there. They’ve always got a radar up on who is doing what in the fly fishing industry. Their Market analytics are tremendously useful.
They’ve also helped us focus on issues critical to anglers, such as supporting public lands and other major conservation issues. If it weren’t for AFFTA, everyone would be sitting on their own islands, not talking.
What’s one thing you wish AFFTA members knew about your business?
We’re a very open company. We want people to come visit us and tour the factory in Massachusetts. We want customers, dealers and retailers to see and understand what we’re doing, which is 100% Made in the USA–everything from the rod tube to the sock. We run off the constructive criticism that AFFTA Members, dealers, or customers give us. We’re very customer service-based in all we do.
When you’re not in the office, what are you most likely to be found doing?
As you can guess, I fish quite a bit. More interestingly, every year our family does a family trip with Yellow Dog Fly Fishing. This year we’re going to Belize. We take the kids and make it fun for them in a fly fishing environment—a kids’ fishing derby, treasure hunts, making sand castles. I take the family to South Africa every September. Our family has a place next to Kruger National Park. We listen to lions roar and hyenas being sneaky around the fire. And during the day, we watch elephants play in the river.
Daily, I take my kids for lots of walks in the woods. I tie flies. And I love to drink beers and wine and sit around the fire.
AFFTA board members Jim Klug, Larry Barrett and Andrew Bennett testified May 31, 2012 in Seattle, Washington during the EPA’s public hearing on the recent Bristol Bay Watershed assessment.
AFFTA has been a strong supporter of protections for Bristol Bay and appreciates EPA’s pro-active approach to protecting the watershed. “Our industry is united in its opposition to the development of the Pebble Mine project, and we believe that the Bristol Bay watershed – as the home to the largest salmon runs in North America and the world – is a one-of-a-kind resource that cannot be put at risk. This issue is not only about protecting both commercial and recreational fishing jobs in the Bristol Bay region, but also about the proud tradition of hunting and fishing for all Americans and what the waters and the salmon of Bristol Bay mean to anglers” said Jim Klug AFFTA Board chairman and Director of Operations at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures.
“Opposition to the Pebble Mine includes an incredibly diverse, broad, and bipartisan coalition that has come together to protect Bristol Bay. This well-organized coalition includes commercial fishing interests, tourism interests, conservationists, Native Alaskans, recreational hunters and anglers, the majority of the current Alaskan population, thousands of businesses throughout Alaska and throughout the country, and over 85% of the people who actually live and work in Bristol Bay ” said Klug.
“As a born Alaskan and owner of a lodge in Alaska, I’m opposed to large scale mining in Bristol Bay, because I feel that the risk that a large scale mine has an adverse impact on this healthy, unique fishery is too great. I currently live in Washington, where our decisions balancing development with management of our natural resources have decimated salmon populations, and I don’t want to see the same thing happen in my great home state of Alaska,” said Andrew Bennett, AFFTA Board member and owner of Deneki Outdoors.
On May 18, 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Draft Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. The assessment is an important step toward protecting this world class fishery and fly-fishing destination.
Outdoor recreation is a vital economic engine for our country and Alaska, and the clean waters of Bristol Bay and its tributaries are crucial for the sustainability of salmon and other wildlife species, which make Bristol Bay not just important to fly fishing, but to everyone that enjoys the outdoors.
The 339 page, science based draft assessment, highlighted the ecological and economic importance of Bristol Bay for the region;
AFFTA recently joined 500 hunting and angling groups across the country in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking the agency “to proactively fulfill its mission to protect the environment and human health in Bristol Bay, AK by using its authority under Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to withdraw waters and wetlands in the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed from future specification as disposal sites for dredge and fill activity associated with mining operations.”
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