Fly fishing club volunteers more than 500 hours to improve Gunnison Watershed

Gunnison Sockeyes River Conservation Club
On the first day of orientation four years ago, an incoming freshman decided to start a fly fishing and river conservation club.

Adam Beede ’17 initiated the start of the Gunnison Sockeyes River Conservation Club when he rounded up seven signatures during a meet-and-greet activity. Since then, Beede has worked relentlessly to get the club where it is today.

The Gunnison Sockeyes River Conservation Club strives to rehabilitate, maintain and improve the Gunnison Watershed through volunteer work. The club works closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Coldharbour Institute and the Gunnison Angling Society to improve angling opportunities in the Gunnison Valley.

This year the Sockeyes took volunteering to a whole new level, donating more than 260 hours of service work to the Gunnison Watershed. Because of this effort, the club achieved a goal that Beede set for the club of donating more than 500 hours of volunteer service before he graduated. The club has logged 548 hours of volunteer work in only four short years and will continue this tradition of giving back in the years to come.

“The club has gone through some trying situations,” said vice president Trent Peterson ’17. “At times, me and Adam were the only people on the board, while still trying to maintain full-time class schedules. But our persistence paid off and we are very happy with where the club is at. We can’t wait to see where the next generation takes it.”    

The Gunnison Sockeyes participate in numerous projects with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, such as introducing salmonfies into the upper Gunnison River, removing invasive Mackinaw subpopulations and helping spawn Kokanee salmon.

More recently, the club has done a lot for work with Coldharbour Institute, such as tracking trout using radio telemetry, removing metal from Tomichi Creek, and clipping and planting willows.

“The club has really grown in the most positive way imaginable this year. All of the incoming officers are freshman, making this the biggest and youngest board in the club’s history,” said CJ Gooderham, current officer and 2017-2018 club president.

 “We intend to help other college fly fishing clubs get on their feet and hopefully help them adopt a conservation based mission, similar to ours,” Gooderham said.

Gooderham shares a vision with the rest of the Gunnison Sockeyes Board Members that their club can be a part in making the world a better place through fly fishing.

On the weekend of Spring Fest, the Gunnison Sockeyes were at Three Rivers Resort in Almont helping host the 5 Rivers Rendezvous, a national event hosted by Trout Unlimited that brings together fly fishing clubs from colleges across the West.

This year, the Sockeyes added a new component to the 80+ student event by organizing a conservation project. Students learned about river system dynamics, the Adopt-a-Trout program and how to track fish with radio telemetry equipment. The students planted some willows trees as well.

Overall the Gunnison Sockeyes gave the other eight college clubs a warm Gunnison welcome and shared their values about fly fishing and conservation.

You can get involved with the Gunnison Sockeyes River Conservation Club or follow their progress at gunnisonsockeyes.org, on their Facebook page or on Instagram.

Article by CJ Gooderman. Photos courtesy of Gunnison Sockeyes. 

Date: 
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 3:30pm