Guest Blogger: Jim Murphy, Neenah WI, long-time J Stockard customer and avid fly tyer

Some days it’s wet, some days rainy, some days hot, some days cold. But on the appointed day, usually a Saturday, on a small trout stream, or perhaps what was once a trout stream, they gather. If the willows have formed a canopy over the stream they brush it out, if the meander has become a bow that has spread to a point that the water is just too slow they narrow the flow with brush bundles. If the main channel has become too wide and shallow they install “lunker structures” or fortify the bank with rip-rap.

Some of these men and women belong to the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, some are members of nearby chapters, and some, like I was a while back, are simply concerned volunteers. On this year’s last Stream Workday, September 6th, over 30 of these dedicated individuals, under the direction of the local DNR “Fish Manager”, bundled and brushed a section of the nearby Pine River to convert a stretch of several hundred yards into the place I now want to fish. Although there are other portions of the stream that give up sizable Browns this particular section has been pretty much “barren” according to a few locals.

Just this year alone, this group has donated over 1,000 volunteer hours to improve area streams. This is not the first year that the program has garnered so many volunteer hours. The local T.U. Chapter, along with two other chapters, has funded a crew of three men, under the supervision of the DNR Manager, to work year round to help maintain and improve area cold water resources.

In my opinion, the current political climate, not only nationally but especially in my state, does not favor the environment, hunting, fishing or other land and water based recreation. Our current governor and legislators are bent on selling state land, easing restrictions on “set backs”, high capacity wells, smokestack emissions and wetland preservation. The DNR has been decimated as their Science Department has been eliminated. And, violations occurring as the result of manure spills by CAFOs and factory dairy farms have been pretty much ignored.

So, the hope of writing this narrative is to encourage you to get involved. You would not be reading this J.Stockard Blog if you weren’t at least mildly interested in the outdoors. Simply donating your time and back one day a month from eight AM ’til noon makes a difference. Many T.U. Chapters throughout the country sponsor stream workdays. You do not need to belong to T.U. to get involved. Your help will be appreciated and your participation will help insure quality fisheries.

Even though it’s hard work, it’s very satisfying. At the end of the day you look back on the stream and know you’ve made a difference. If you are a fisher person you may have also discovered a new place to fish. You’ll also be surrounded by fisher people who are more than willing to talk fishing and give lots of “hot tips” on where to go and what their biting on.


  1. Volunteering is just one-way J. Stockard readers can promote and support their local Trout Unlimited chapters. Fundraising is an important aspect of what chapters need to do to start new projects and keep effective programs going. Annual fundraising banquets and auctions are routine events. The J. Stockard Rewards program is an excellent way for fly tiers and blog authors to give back to TU. Convert your rewards points into J. Stockard gift certificates and donate them to your local TU chapter. Chapters can use the gift certificates to acquire the kinds of stuff their members want in silent auctions or to support youth fly tying programs. Fly tiers can also be bold and tie up several boxes of their best patterns and donate them for auctions. You’d be surprised how much locally relevant and well tied boxes of flies will bring at a fundraising auction. Get to work and donate.

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