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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Soul Survivor

Posted by Mark Saturday, October 25, 2014

After reading a recent Drake article about the Thompson River in BC, I reflect back to the North Umpqua and see some definite parallels  The whole game of chasing steelhead has gone from a humble pursuit by a relatively small sector of society to a full on "culture". This culture includes a younger contingency of anglers that don't always have good role models to lead and guide them. Many don't want any help thinking they can do it all on their own. Many can for sure, but critical historical and traditional information can be lost in the process. As that happens, rivers can fall under new unwritten rules and traditions, many times to the detriment of all.

As the "Old Guard" of fishermen slowly slips into obscurity, the new wave of steelheaders charge forward with a completely new mindset. Largely influenced by technology and media, this new wave takes much of it's instruction from the internet and videos. Gone are many of the relationships that are forged through years of on the water mentor-ship. Its an ADD world out there and no one has time to learn by doing anymore. This new culture wants it all and they want it NOW. Shortcuts of all kinds are the norm now not the exception.

Of all the rivers I fish and read about, very few are making the switch gracefully to accommodate this new rush of interest in swinging flies for steelhead. The North Umpqua still stands as a last bastion of angling ethics. Gentlemanly behavior still exists there and people still respect each others space more often than not.  It is one of the few remaining steelhead rivers in the world where it is rare to get low holed. It is this way only because of the history and tradition that has been passed down, through all that have come before. Its that way because many of you, my readers have been diligent in preserving this information by being great examples on the river.

I urge you to take the time to learn the history of the river if you do not know it. If you do know it's history please continue to fish,steward and share this gem with others. We need to keep this good thing going...........

We ALL just need to slow down a little. The good council from an older and wiser person is still desperately needed in this game. We need to be reminded continually how things were done in the past. Old ways still have their merits and often prove more effective in the long run than some newfangled short cut.

The history and ethical behavior that was practiced 50-100 years ago is still relevant today. Those traditions need to be passed on to the new generation. That means it's up to you, whatever river you are on. Learn what you can from that old timer you always see but never talk to. Share a fly and a story with someone who may be just learning.

The rivers and fish are still worth our  honor and respect so lets be good stewards out there OK?

Slow down and relax, and maybe your river will be a Soul Survivor.

 Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,  with this goal in mind,   I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God  in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. The old guard also used to keep their mouths closed unless in the company of the trusted. Now those secrets—and the culture with them—are readily sold for $500 a day plus tip to a babyboomer generation too fat and lazy to pay dues.

  3. Steelie Mike Says:
  4. Thanks Mark, great read!

  5. Mark Says:
  6. Anonymous, I thank you for your comment and for coming to my blog. I for one am thankful for the guides that have come before me that have modeled good stewardship skills. If it were not for guides like Frank Moore back in the day, there would be a dam across the river at Rip Rap Point. I am thankful that he stood up then and continues to stand up now for the river and its resources. That legacy and mindset needs to be perpetuated into the future. There are many great guides doing the same kinds of things on rivers across the steelhead world and they are surely needed.

  7. Flyers66 Says:
  8. Thanks for the Excellent Words Mark...I have respected and learned a lot about the culture, lore, history, conservation issues and techniques fishing the NU from the likes of You, Tony, Todd and a few other "knowledgeable" "old timers" in the NU community who have taking the time to talk and educate. I have spent many fish-less days on the NU learning and exploring. I took this a step further in reading every book, Frank interview, films etc that i can find on the river and it's past. If you understand a rivers past you can try to uphold some of the "humble pursuits" you speak of in the present...It's good to know there are some good stewards of the River and even the "friction" or different opinions of conservation issues on the handling of the river present and future; is a good sign that people are talking and care...
    Doug F

  9. Mark Says:
  10. Thanks for reading and commenting Doug!

    Its a special place and I am glad we got to spend some time on the river together. Looking forward to more days with you in the future.

  11. Unknown Says:
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.  
  13. Unknown Says:
  14. Hey Mark, I deleted this post originally but have decided to post it anyways out of full respect for you and those you fish with on the North. I have fished the North a lot and have tried to meet some of the "old guard". And to be honest, and as part of the so called new generation of young fisherman, I have felt snubbed by the majority of the "old guard" while trying to initiate friendship. I have learned the river and its pools by looking at Google maps, reading literature, and talks with Lee at his pool. Rich Z has also been very friendly and personal. The majority of guides on the river seem to have this persona of superiority and snobbery. It is challenging to learn a place and its people when its people act as though you either have to pay for entry or be part of the secret club to gain access into it. It truly seems that the only way to make a connection with the old guard is to pay them 500.00 bucks. I think low holing is dumb, and I respect the river its fish, its people, and history. But it seems there is a bit of a surfers "locals only" rule to the river within its group of primary stewards. I know that fisherman as a whole are a guarded bunch, I'm not looking to obtain the old guards secrets. I don't want to pay you or anyone else to obtain them, I like to discover the river on my own as it seems to become more intimate that way. What I seek is a sense of friendship with the river and its people and a feeling of being interconnected with the river and others that love the NU and its fish as much as I. Just because I'm relatively young doesn't mean that I am wanting to shortcut the old guard, or the river. If I can't learn the river, its people, and history from a mentor, I will use other resources available to me. I think that a lot of younger fly anglers have equal respect for the NU, its old guard, and their history. The old guard may need to become more inviting so as to generate interconnectedness from the lesser experienced anglers looking for their place in the river and its people, even if they are not paying them to do so. In saying this I am aware that as a guide your focus is on your client and not other anglers. But it could be that some of those passionate young unguided anglers you meet today could be the guides of tomorrow. We all need to be friendly on the river, while guiding or going solo, to everyone we meet.

  15. Great comments Matt. I spend the majority of my time on the river personal fishing as I do not guide full time. I have a full time job and guiding is a small percentage of my time on the river. I have made lasting friendships with many on the river over the years and always strive for positive interaction when I meet people there weather I am guiding or not. If you see me on the river please stop and say hi. I am happy to share what I know with you about the river. Email me at as I would love to talk more with you. Thanks again for your comments

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