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Trout Unlimited should mimic Ducks Unlimited

IN A recent edition of Trout Unlimited's "Trout" magazine, there were questions about why their association grown lacks the punch Ducks Unlimited has.

To me the answer was written in the wind, to coin a phrase from one of our folk songs. It is because they have deemed themselves a "trout fishing" group, while Ducks Unlimited had no such reservations about the proper methods of taking waterfowl, and that they supported wise use of the game that was killed.

So we wrote this letter below to the magazine's editor. Once we figured that it probably would not see the light of day, we'd pass it on to our readers and hope that they enjoy and appreciate our viewpoints.

Dear Trout Unlimited Editors:

We need to introduce ourselves to establish some credibility with you and your readers.

We pulled feathers from my bed pillow at the age of 7 to tie homemade flies. We'd be lying if I said they caught fish, but as time went on we became a professional fly tier and also an avid fly angler. But not to the exclusion that your group loves to expose.

My fishing to date still includes fly fishing, but also includes big game saltwater fishing, for some time tackling giant bluefin tuna on hand lines. Many a huge shark also fell for those tactics but were released as humanely as possible. We transitioned to rod and reel when we had the financial resources. But we still fly fished and fished for coldwater species by use of bait, lures and flies.

My career in conservation included a 10-year stint as a natural resource enforcement officer (at that time called a game warden) and later as a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Commissioner.

The New Hampshire Coastal Conservation Association bestowed its highest honor on me as their Conservationist of the Year because, when a game warden, we created the state's first sea-run brown trout resource, at Rye New Hampshire's Berry Brook. Also, there was my non-stop conservation theme in my weekly column for New Hampshire's largest and only statewide newspaper, The New Hampshire Union Leader.

The prior year, they bestowed their special Board of Directors Conservation Award to me for other conservation efforts.

So now let me get to the gist of why we write to you and your readers. In your Spring issue of "Trout," it's mentioned that you are a fly fishing organization. This seems to be a new description of our Trout Unlimited. Also in this issue is a comment that the organization would like to emulate Ducks Unlimited to have that kind of huge coverage and membership.

Dahh! DU is not an exclusive shoot 'em in the water over decoys, or any other method to be used exclusively. We're an avid waterfowler and we've done it every legal way without any guilt.

If you want to expand your membership to those same levels, it's about time you didn't snub other methods of fishing. Surely there are many ways when fishing to avoid damage to the fish if you want to catch and release. We've taken every treble hook off of our huge inventory of fishing lures and spoons and replaced them with a single hook with either pinched-down barb or barbless. And we also cook up a good number of both fresh and saltwater fish we catch each year, which is a strong tradition among a huge majority of anglers in this country.

If you want the support and numbers of members to mimic Ducks Unlimited, it's time you came to the reality that fly fishing isn't the do-all or supreme height of fishing. It's just another way, and not the only way. You won't catch this old fly angler pumping out the digestive tract of some poor trout to figure out what to fool that next fish with! Your poop doesn't smell any sweeter than mine, or hundreds of thousands of other anglers that use other traditional methods of fishing.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Best to you,


Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at


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