Last September, I fished with Yvon Chouinard in a pristine wilderness setting in Yellowstone Park. It was a cold day on the upper part of Slough Creek near the Montana border and we were discussing the alarming decline of trout and salmon populations worldwide. As a light snow began to fall, I told Yvon about the diversity of trout species I’d caught that summer in the Balkans and how the recent wars had greatly degraded their habitat and numbers. Yvon hooked a nice native cutthroat trout and as he released it he said, “Let’s do something about it.” I told him that there was little infrastructure for a conservation effort there, and I felt the situation was hopeless given the political climate. Yvon was silent for a bit, and then as we walked over the gravel to the next bend in the river, he told me a story about how he and his friends had climbed to the highest point of the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda and stood and peed. “And for one moment,” he said in his own shy way, “we were the source of the Nile.” As if to say, if you can be the source of the Nile, anything is possible.
So, the World Trout initiative was, well, spawned. We, as anglers, may not always be able to be the source of the Nile for trout of the world, but we can try to keep the numerous tributaries pristine. World Trout’s mission is to identify groups or individuals that protect native fish, and to support their conservation efforts.