A Man Who Changed the (Trout) World

There are names more synonymous with fly fishing than Art Neumann, but few people made as deep and enduring an impact on this sport. Neumann, who passed away in March at the age of 99, was one of the founders of Trout Unlimited. Back in 1959, a group of Michigan anglers that had grown dissatisfied with the state’s trout stocking practices, established an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving sustainable coldwater fisheries. The notion was simple: rather than “put and take,” figure out how to keep healthy habitat, and trout fishing would be better off in the long run. Nobody more aptly summed up the ideal than Neumann. He coined the adage, “Take care of the fish and the fishing will take care of itself.” “What Art did was to build an institution–an institution that began with him and a handful of other people along the banks of the Au Sable River, who were tired of the state’s masking habitat degradation through stocking,” said TU president and CEO Chris Wood. “Today, the ‘house that Art built’ includes 400 chapters, over 155,000 members, and 240 scientists, biologists, and other professional staff who serve to make fishing, and the places that fish live, better.” Moreover, TU is now a $50 million-a-year organization. The vast majority of that money is poured directly into programs and projects that improve trout and salmon fishing. Given the fact that the fly-fishing world spins on an axis of trout (the vast majority of fly rods sold in America today, for example, are
9-foot, 5-weights), one can easily argue that Neumann made as much a lasting impression on fly fishing, in general, as anyone. So you might not find his name in many record books. And he didn’t write a library’s worth of books, or make DVDs. He isn’t even known for designing catchy fly patterns or any of that. But Neumann gave trout anglers something far more valuable . . . he gave us a collective conscience. – Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter
About Kirk Deeter 3 Articles
Kirk Deeter is the editor of Trout Magazine.

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