Bill Redman began fishing for steelhead in the Northwest in the late 1950’s, catching his first steelhead in the Pilchuck River on a spinner in the winter season of 1960-61. His first fly-caught steelhead came in August of 1961 below Deer Creek on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. He caught more gear fishing during the early 1960’s, but the turning point for him came on the Grande Ronde in September 1965 when he caught two fish on a fly about five cast apart. He remembered that “They were both absolutely wild and tore up the river that did it, I was a steelhead fly fisher.”
After almost 40 years, He still calls the Grande Ronde his “home river” but also has enjoyed the North Fork Stilly, Wenatchee, Methow, Clearwater, Deschutes and the North Fork Umpqua , among a few others. And like many of us in this room, once he began to pursue steelhead, he noticed a difference between hatchery fish and wild fish, and began devoting his time and energy to conservation oriented groups and clubs.
He became a member of the Washington Fly Fishing Club in 1964, served as it’s president in 1968, and was presented the WFFC’s first Tommy Brayshaw Award by Enos Bradner that same year. He was also a founding board member of the Washington Environmental Council from 1967-69. Around this time, our award winner became a charter member of the Federation of Fly Fishers and since 1995, has been a member of it’s Steelhead Committee. He has been the chairman of the Steelhead Committee since 2000 and in that role, contributes regularly to the Osprey, the newsletter of the FFF Steelhead Committee. He has also been a regular participant in all 5 of the Steelhead Alliance Meeting sponsored by the WSC and authored the recently completed postion paper on the Endangered Species Act listings of steelhead which has been co-signed by many other groups including the WSC.
Our award winner is passionate about steelhead and notes that it is their “romantic and dramatic life history the out of control feeling of a fresh, hot steelhead on the end of the line that keeps me coming back through all the dry trips” He has also observed that “ the wild fish seem to make a leisurely migration, spreading themselves out through the river at various times. The hatchery fish came like lemmings, all at once, and go rapidly to the release point, and hang around there. The wild fish migrations are much more likely to spread the anglers out, creating a much better social experience.”
Our award winner retired in 1993 after 34 years with IBM and he and his wife have 4 grown children. And he has not slowed down! He just returned from a trip on the Grande Ronde.
It was the unanimous vote of the WSC BOD to honor Bill with our first Conservation Award. The WSC is extremely proud to present our Conservation Award to Bill Redman.