At the Bitterroot Trout Unlimited banquet last week, two local fishermen and writers Bill Bean and Chuck Stranahan each received a Golden Trout Award for their decades of writing about the fishing and the fisheries in the Bitterroot Valley. Bill Bean has been writing fishing related articles for the Ravalli Republic newspaper for over 20 years. Chuck Stranahan has been writing a column in the Bitterroot Star for many years as well.
Both award winners were given two minutes for any comments they would care to make in acceptance of the award.
Bean said he doesn’t talk a lot and would not be taking his whole two minutes.
“I will take a minute. I’m going to give the other minute to Chuck. He’s a good friend and he loves to talk and has many good things to say,” said Bean. He expressed thanks for the award and said he hoped to continue writing articles, “unless someone wants to step in and take over.”
Stranahan said that he had three immediate reactions when he was first informed about receiving the award. First was, why him? He said last year FWP biologist Chris Clancy got the award “someone who totally deserved it,” said Stranahan. “Why me?”
Then, he said, he saw that Bill was also getting it. “Someone who is a past TU officer and who has helped put this banquet and auction on. I felt he deserved it.”
“Then I thought, how can I speak in two minutes and say the things that I need to say?”
First off, he said, “I cannot go on a rant about the need for single-hook-barbless-artificial lures on the West Fork,” to the sound of great applause.
He thanked his wife and fishing partner Jan, his publishers Michael and Victoria Howell, and his good friends and fishing buddies before saying, “We are not here just because we enjoy casting, or tying flies. There is something about trout fishing with a fly rod when we are out there on a stream maybe with best friends, who in that circumstance, get to know us best, who are life-long friends. Whether you go to church or not, there is something there that is spiritual about the experience.”
“Drawing people into fly fishing,” said Stranahan, “as Lee Wulff said many years ago, ‘If you make a fly fisherman out of someone, they eventually become a conservationist’ and I think that’s why we are all here. We are here because we love fly fishing. We love the way it touches the inner core of our being and there is something there that is worth protecting and preserving.”
You can read more of Stranahan’s thoughts on flyfishing in his weekly column in the Bitterroot Star.