My first home was on my grandparents’ dairy farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts in the Berkshire foothills in the western part of the state, where I had my first encounter with a trout stream. The stream was Drake Brook, down in the lower pasture.
I was five or six when I caught and cleaned my first “trout,” which was actually a dace. But I knew the trout were there; I had eaten the thawed brookies that my grandmother had frozen in ice trays. Even seeing them packed in ice, I was awed by their beauty and I was in love with the mystery and possibility of trout streams.
I’ve been a trout fisherman ever since, casting my first dry fly at about age 10, but not getting serious about fly fishing until about 20 years ago. Coldwater streams and watersheds have held a special place in my heart for my entire life. It is only in recent years that I have evolved from knowing these places through my senses and intuition, to understanding them a little more scientifically and pragmatically, to actively trying to care for and protect them through the power of organizations, like Trout Unlimited.
As I think about the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Council of Trout Unlimited, I see the care that we need as well. My professional background has been in finance, working in large and small institutions on their business development and risk management sides. The common thread of my entire career has been thinking in terms of what is good for the organization, and if you asked me to distill the essence of what I do, I’d tell you that it is corporate development. For me, management decisions are always about the process of involving people and inspiring them to do their best thinking, and making decisions for the long run good of the organization and people. I like to think of organizational leadership as just another form of stewardship. In my service to you and as the chair of this organization, I hope that good stewarding of the council will have the direct effect of making us all more effective stewards of our coldwater streams and watersheds.
I felt the pull of rivers at an early age – by 10 I was catching brook trout with a cup in Roaring Brook in Shutesbury, and letting them go after admiring their splendor. My dad bought me my first fly rod – a True Temper – at the age of 12 and I’ve been deeply hooked ever since. My love of coldwater rivers and streams lead me to degrees in aquatic biology and environmental management and a career of making our world just a little bit better each day. I’m an Associate and Senior Technical Specialist in Ecological Restoration for Tighe & Bond, one of New England’s leading environmental consulting firms, where my focus of late has been on dam removal and river restoration projects. I served for 15 years on the Granby and South Hadley Conservation Commissions and for 30 years on the board of directors of the Kestrel Land Trust. I am past president of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and founder of FlyMeaRiver guide service. My hope as Vice Chairman is to bring that experience to bear on improving coldwater fisheries management and conservation in Massachusetts. I live in Granby with my wife and daughter. If you happen to be in the area, look me up so I can share some of the great fishing in the area with you.
National Leadership Council Representative
I’ve essentially been fishing since I could walk to a lake, pond or stream. As a kid, I looked for every opportunity to take my fishing rod to a local pond and cast a worm or lure for sunfish, bass or horned pout. That was about the extent of the species that I could fish for in the local ponds of my hometown in eastern MA. Interestingly enough, my mother bought me a fly rod from WT Grant when I was about 10 years old but it had a level taper and was a bear to cast. So much so that I decided that fly fishing wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until my mid thirties in Grand Lake Stream, ME that I caught a fish – a landlocked salmon – on a fly rod and from that moment, it’s been a passion for me. I quickly joined TU, bought some gear from Orvis and have never looked back.
Regarding my career, it began at Polaroid as a scientist and then on to stints in manufacturing, sales & marketing, and now procurement in the Biotech industry. I’ve been both an entrepreneur and intrapraneur and this diversity of roles and organizations has provided me with many opportunities for management and leadership roles.
In the past 10 years, I’ve become much active in TU – first as a board member and then president of GBTU, then as vice chair of MA-RI Council and now as the NLC rep. What started as a desire to join an organization with other fisherman has now become a passion for cold-water conservation and opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals.
My paternal grandparents were avid fly fishers, and my grandfather was also a skilled fly tier who developed a well-known dry fly called the “Rat-Faced MacDougall”. My father was also a life-long fly fisher who introduced me to the sport at age 5, when I caught my first trout on my own. I still recall my sense of wonder as I watched him hook and land a 10-inch brookie on my first outing with him, as it was so incredibly beautiful flashing around in the water and utterly breathtaking when he showed it to me. The incredibly lovely red spots circled with blue, the green and black markings on its mackerel-like back, and most of all, its blazingly-orange belly just left me stunned. I can still picture that fish in his hands!
I caught my first trout in a foam patch that my father pointed out to me. “Just whack that fly in there! Don’t worry about delicacy. Hit it right into the middle of that patch with a splash and be ready!” He was right. I flailed that fly pretty hard into the middle of the foam and it opened a hole that was instantly engulfed by a very large splash as a nice 12-inch brown trout came up and savagely grabbed it down. Wow. Again, I can still see that splash and my father’s delight and pride at his son’s first success…
Funny how those special moments stay with you after so many years. My love of fly fishing – for trout, steelhead, salmon, stripers, bonefish, etc. – has remained a central theme in my life for decades at this point. When I think about being injured, my first thought is always this: Would I still be able to fly fish? The very thought of being unable to do so is stifling and terrifying. Would life be worth living without it?
I don’t understand the driving force of this passion, though it is central to my life and happiness. And the engagement I feel with this lovely pastime motivates me to be involved with Trout Unlimited, Stripers Forever, the Federation of Fly Fishers, and all sorts of organizations pushing for resource conservation. By profession, I am an economist. Though trained to push numbers and graphs around, I moved beyond that a long time ago, embracing complexity, chaos and interdependence in studies of social, cultural and ecological economics. The whole process of human behavior, motivation and rational limits suffuses all of our conservation efforts and policy choices in environmental settings. So it is with fisheries issues.
I have done a lot of theoretical research in economics, and have studied fisheries from this perspective. After some years in academics, I went into economic consulting and litigation work in which I have spent more than thirty years. I’m doing more fisheries stuff nowadays, as a meaningful application of skills. The role of economics in fisheries management and conservation has a lot of potential importance. But in the final reckoning, what we all have to do – to make a real difference – is simply to “show up”! We need to be involved, and to focus our efforts upon what matters. Threats to environmental health are everywhere if we look; all we need do is to pay attention, to value and fight for all living systems. We cannot always control the outcomes; too often, they stay out of reach. What we do control is the effort we make, along with our reliability and how likely we are to show up. That’s what matters the most…