Creating CalTrout's 50 Anniversary Video
50 years. Half a century. That’s a long time. That’s a long time for a marriage to last. That’s a long time for someone to work the same job or even live in the same area. That’s a long time to own a vehicle. It’s at least three generations for most families. And that’s a long time for a company to be in business. Especially an environmental non-profit organization. And specifically one that is centered around restoring California’s natural heritage of having diverse and large wild salmon, steelhead, and trout.
As with a long marriage or a career, we at CalTrout take our 50th anniversary seriously. It’s quite a milestone. I’ve been going through old files and collecting media in preparation for our 50th year for the past few years now. Five years ago, I put together a 45th anniversary video. And five years before that, when I first started getting involved with CalTrout, they were working on the 40th anniversary video. It’s a tradition we hold dear and I definitely hoped to do a good job with this one for the 50th.
One of my favorite parts was going through all of the historical media at the office. CalTrout had moved offices a few years prior and while doing so, in preparation for our 50th anniversary, I made a point to collect all the old slides that were in folders and boxes and compile them together. There was a treasure trove of old photos from CalTrout staff members like Richard May and friends of the organization like Valentine Atkinson. It’s so cool looking through the old analog photos shot on slide film and hidden away in boxes for decades. They paint a picture of the good all days of fly fishing in California and the early days of wild trout management and fisheries conservation.
While going through the photos I kept noticing an old golden colored Ford van parked at many of California Trouts project sites including hat Creek, Fall River, Yellow Creek and the Truckee. I noticed it had curtains and was set up for sleeping and the license plate simply read “Trout”. After checking around a bit I realized it belong to Richard May, one of the founding members of California Trout. He was also one of California’s OG Trout bums. It made me feel proud to keep the legacy alive of traveling around in the van to California’s Trouts restoration projects and documenting them. While also sneaking in a little fishing along the way.
Also in a box in the old office was one single roll of old 8 mm film that was titled “Hat Creek, opening day 1969 – Joe Paul”. I had it developed and what a treasure it was. There were some great old 8 mm clips from the opening inauguration ceremony for the Hat Creek wild Trout project in 1969. And some awesome clips of anglers enjoying the river on opening day. It was crowded! Those old 8 mm cameras shot short bursts of film that comprised seven second clips. A very artsy way to produce a moving image of a point in time. I used some of the footage for the Hat Creek wild trout legacy video last year too. I love looking back on little moments captured in time like that.
CalTrout has so much deep history it was hard to cover it all in such a short time. I could have easily done an hour long documentary covering in detail the timeline of California Trout. Every time I looked at all the old Streamkeeper's Logs and newsletters I came across new projects I wasn’t aware of in the '70s and '80s. From small things like helping negotiate flows for the Truckee River, to big things like re-watering Pit three through one of the first FERC licensing interventions in California's history by an angling organization. That stretch is now one of California’s most prolific wild trout fisheries. It was way too much to cover in a short form movie, so I had to stick to the big ones like the wild trout program, catch and release, saving Mono Lake, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Once I had most of the story line in mind, we set about interviewing many of the original CalTrout members, current partners, and advocates. These interviews included Richard May- a founding member, Jim Adams- a founding member, and Bill Quinn who was also a founding member. The stories that came from these interviews were great and I wish I could have used them all. I also interviewed current and former board members, like Linda Ash and Dick Galland, plus historian and CalTrout ambassador Craig Ballenger, Executive Director Curtis Knight, and conservation and science partner, Peter Moyle from UC Davis. And many of our regional managers and conservation partners.
To tie it all together I wanted an opening scene that emphasized the multi generational aspect of our work. I was able to employ former CalTrout board member Alan Vidinsky, recent CalTrout employee Nick Vidinsky, and their extended family for a nice outing on the river together. I felt like it really captured the emotion of sharing fly-fishing with kids and then, them sharing it with their kids in return. The full circle connecting. And a metaphor for exactly why we do the work that we do and are all so dedicated to this path.
So here’s to honoring the past, the present and the future of California Trout. I hope you enjoy this short video on our history, current achievements, and future vision for the health and prosperity of California’s diverse, cold water ecosystems and citizens.
I would like to thank all of the staff and partners of California Trout for this amazing opportunity and journey. I would also like to thank our friends at Pusher Studios for their help in filming and producing the 50th Anniversary movie and many others.