A young man from east of the Mississippi, the largest river in the United States, travels west to experience the Wild & Scenic Rogue River in Oregon.
Sawyer is proud to partner with artists and Save Our Wild Salmon conservation efforts to protect and restore wild salmon, steelhead and the healthy river systems they depend on. “Save Our Wild Salmon is honored to partner with Sawyer on this project to raise awareness and funds to support our advocacy efforts,” says Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. “Healthy fisheries, healthy rivers and responsible companies like Sawyer Paddles and Oars remind us all about how environment and economy can, and must, go hand-in-hand.”
Hear from Link Jackson about his design and inspiration and learn more at his website – https://www.linkjacksonart.com
What was the inspiration for your Artisan Series design, and why is that species of fish meaningful to you?
At the “Spring Thaw” event at Maravia in Boise, Idaho, my booth was beside Sawyer Oars. As I looked over the oars and my mind was wandering during a slow period I envisioned the pattern of a Steelhead on the Square Top Oars and it came to me that doing such a thing would be something unique and special. It followed that such a special thing might be useful in helping the fish themselves in their battle for survival against difficult odds. The plight of the Columbia River Steelhead were very much on my mind then, and now, and this just dawned on me as a way to help them.
Removing dams and restoring salmon runs are contentious issues, that span national and state lines and have for decades. When did your art and conservation ethic begin to reflect the need to make science-based decisions to restore their historical populations?
When I moved back to Idaho in 2002 and started fishing for Steelhead I became intrigued with the story of their decline. I started to do research and attend forums on the topic. My son took a strong interest in the fish in his studies earning an Environmental Sciences degree and he fed me volumes of scientific information concerning the fish. The more I learned the more what I learned disgusted me and made me want to turn things around for the fish and against the seemingly sinister powers that cling to the dams and the continued decline of the fish. My art was but a convenient tool given that I do not have the kind of wealth that Yvan Chouinard does to fight for the fish…I use my art.
What is your favorite memory of catching or pursuing your oar design species?
I was on the way to Missoula for the Orvis Rendezvous in early April and had my wife Becky along. She had never caught a Steelhead even after years of trying with Spey rod. We stopped along the Clearwater to try and get her a fish. I worked it hard spotting fish for her, coaching her and doing all I could to help over several hours. She was swinging the fly to a pair of Hens I had spotted and just could not get the fly and fish connected. The fish moved on and she handed me the rod in defeat and said, I am going to go get a beer in the truck hold this. As she climbed the bank I noted a nice Hen materializing into view from downstream. I let out some line and placed a fly across and above the path of the fish then let it swing into place. The fish aggressively took the fly and an involuntary whoop of joy passed my lips. Becky heard this and came running. She was anything but impressed having spent several hours herself trying to hook up. She got over it….but she still has not landed a Steelhead on a Fly!
Permit season. Not the line-reeling salt water version of a Siamese Tiger, but the nervous anticipation of the Four Rivers Lottery for multi-day trips through millions of acres of publicly-owned wilderness. It’s the kind of thing that hopeful river runners dream of, and once you land one of these coveted permits, the kind of thing that river runners have to hold close to their chest; not because they’re greedy, but because it is indeed like winning the lottery, and everyone becomes your best friend and wants an invite.
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a trip like this; it’s committing, both in gear, risk, and in keeping everyone happy for as long as you can. Great weather helps, great company is the trip leader’s responsibility. Group dynamic is paramount. Set the tone early, everyone has responsibilities, no-one is above cleaning the groover or doing dishes. Groover? Yes, the polite name for using a Leave-No-Trace toilet in the wilderness. The Three P’s – privacy, proximity, and panorama. Where you do number two is part of the experience.
This was my first run on the MF, and it was an amazing trip. By the way, did you get a permit for this year? We’re friends, right?