Q & A with Mac Heebner
CalTrout Member and Donor since 2019
"In 50 years, I hope California’s rivers and fish will be vibrant, healthy, protected, and accessible. I hope they will be prioritized by policy makers, enjoyed responsibly by the public, and cared for by CalTrout and like-minded organizations."
- Mac Heebner
When did you first become involved in CalTrout and why?
I found CalTrout in 2019 through my company’s – TruSource Consulting Group – involvement in the 1% for the Planet movement and started with an initial pledge. I’m happy to have been able to continue our support each year since then, including our pledge for 2022. I was looking for a local organization focused on boots-on-the-ground efforts in environmental restoration and conservation. I was also looking for an organization that had the tools, staffing, and reach to make a real difference. I found both in CalTrout as well as a bunch of cool humans that I felt I could hang out with on the water and in the storytelling after.
How did you get into fly fishing?
I am a fly fisher though relatively new to the sport - started in 2018. I grew up bobber fishing with my grandfather in central PA on his Sears-Roebuck aluminum boat. I’m also the son of a career National Park Ranger and the product of a family that spent as much time outdoors as possible focused on enjoying the natural world and trying to leave it better than we found it. Fly fishing allows me to get fully engrossed in and focused on a body of water, the surrounding environment and the elusive trout. It is the active meditation, addiction and escape that keeps me level. If I’m not on the water, I’m frequently reading books or watching videos about being on the water.
What is your favorite angling or outdoor memory?
Way too hard to pick a single favorite. In the moment, two that stand out for me are 1) my very first trout caught with a fly rod at Timbuctoo bend on the Lower Yuba, only ~12” but dang it was a pretty fish - and 2) my young son catching a small brookie on the Yampa in CO with a huge plastic lure I told him would never work and the huge ‘I-told-you-so’ smile on his face.
Background photo: Robert Lowe
Which CalTrout project or initiative interests/excites/inspires you the most and why?
The DAMS OUT Initiative is probably the most exciting and inspiring for me. I remember being completely shocked when I learned about the number of dams in CA and even more surprised about the number of those that are either no longer being maintained and/or have outlived their functional lifespan. I find it exciting because the work is tangible - you can see when a dam has been removed. I find it inspiring because the results are so far reaching literally downstream as well as figuratively downstream over the course of time.
What does being a CalTrout member mean to you?
Simply, it means impact. CalTrout moves the needle, the team makes things happen and their efforts make a difference. I’ve toured some of the projects, I’ve learned about the complexity and scale of the efforts and I’ve met many members of the team. This is real work, right now with near- and long-term impact and I’m proud to support it (and benefit from it).
What is your favorite river in California and why?
Wow - this is so hard. I keep discovering new rivers (in many cases with the help of CalTrout) and there are still so many I haven’t experienced yet. At this point, if I must pick one, I pick Putah Creek just west of Winters, CA. I guess technically it is a creek but it is an amazing little stretch of water with a great history. It was depleted and then revitalized and is now being taken care of by a number of small organizations focused on returning it to a blue-ribbon, wild trout habitat. On top of its history, it is a technical, diverse, and productive fishery that is only an hour from home. Though I must admit that the Pit River is a very close second.