Meet Erik. Erik loves our watershed. He also loves to fish. As a member of our advisory board he also loves protecting our rivers and streams. This is the first in a three part series about Erik and his passion for the river. Specifically exploring the small streams that feed into the river and finding fish in places no one would think to look (that’s the second part in our three part series). His feelings and connection to the river echo a lot of what we feel at the Spokane Riverkeeper.
Without the Spokane River, Erik wouldn’t be in Spokane. Like many of us, Erik’s connection to the river started at a young age. Erik grew up near the river in Spokane and his family used it for recreation. Turning over rocks to look at bugs quickly grew into a passion for everything in the river and he was fishing by the age of eight. Teenage angst naturally sent him down the hill from his house, to the river, using it as a place of calm during periods of confusion. “It sure beats drugs and rock n’roll” Erik says about his teenage connection to the river. The river calms, leaving worries behind because, in part it’s so much greater than any one problem.
The Spokane River is more than an escape. It’s a teacher. The lessons learned on the river are greater than what fly to use or what hole to fish. Erik views the duality of the river paralleling life. The river can be a peaceful presence or a roaring giant. It’s best to be prepared to encounter and know how to deal with either one, or something in between. Of course it’s also good to know that fishing a prince nymph just off the bottom will get them every time.
The Spokane River is a special place to Erik. It’s his backyard that he knows very well. He understands it and has invested thousands of hours on its banks. It helps that it holds Redband Trout, a subspecies of Rainbow Trout which are a challenging to flyfish for. “Holding a Redband Trout is evidence of things being right”, quips Erik. He’s not far off. Redbands need clean, cool water. This is provided year round to the Spokane River from our aquifer. Other sources of water harm the fish, such as the sediment spewing out of Hangman Creek, burying their nests and clogging their gills.
And this is how pollution and land use affects Erik, and really all of us in the greater Spokane area. Our river helps us escape from the world, whether we use it to fish, for quiet contemplation, or for a weekend float. In part, this is why we protect our river. For people like Erik, who need the river.