Board of Directors
Jonathan Stumpf, Chair
Backstory: Jonathan grew up fishing the high country creeks and streams of Colorado. After a brief spell in Missoula, Montana, he finally landed in Seattle, Washington in 2008. Passionate about fishing and even more so about the environment in which fish live, he was quickly seduced by the mystique of steelhead and the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest.
What he does: Jonathan works for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a national sportsmen’s conservation organization based in Washington, D.C., running point for all online communications. Thankfully, his colleagues love to fish and hunt as much he does.
First Steelhead: After a seemingly long and fishless, snowy day on Idaho’s Salmon River in late November, he managed to hook and land a seven-pound hatchery brat on the last run of the day. Unfortunately, he released it.
Personal Philosophy: “To borrow a line from Sam Snyder, ‘The future of our fisheries depend upon diverse communities, diverse fisheries, and diverse thinking. If you cherish your habit, religion, sport, or whatever you want to call it, I am inclined to say that you have no business in this sport if you don’t take conservation seriously. Either speak up or get off the water.’”
Lindsay Cleal, Director
Backstory: Lindsay grew up in western Montana being able to fish in Lolo Creek that ran through the front yard, and hunt in national forest that bordered the back yard. After making a move to the Seattle area in 98’, he continued his passion for the outdoors in the northwest whether that be skiing, boating, fishing, or hunting. Trips to Alaska over the last few years for various species have also solidified his desire to ultimately chase big trout and steelhead.
First Steelhead: As many others have had to, Lindsay considers himself still “paying his dues” in the pursuit for steelhead having had his first experience on the Skykomish River in 2012; only to have the fish release about six feet from where he stood on the it’s last run. That one experience was enough to fuel a desire to keep trying and learn more about this incredible species.
What He Does: Lindsay began his career managing both commercial and residential real estate over several states within the continental US for over 10 years. He then moved his focus to the financial industry as an independent advisor with emphasis on financial planning and asset management for both individuals and small businesses. This experience and skill set then transferred into a high net worth individual and institutional focus incorporating financial and estate planning strategies, asset management, as well as addressing insurance needs.
Personal Philosophy: “These fish and the rivers they run in need more advocates to ensure that each generation has the opportunity to have their first encounter just as I did.”
Brian Bennett, Director
Backstory: Growing up in Boston, MA, Brian was far removed from steelhead and the myriad of challenges they face. All that changed in 2004 when he took a job with Patagonia as the REI Account Manager and relocated to Washington State. As a passionate fly fisherman who cut his teeth plying the rivers and lakes of Colorado and Wyoming, he quickly embraced the challenge of chasing steelhead on the fly.
First Steelhead: Brian hooked his first wild steelhead, a beautiful dime bright 8 pound hen, swinging a blue Tomine String thing on the Cole Slaw run, on the Buckley River in BC.
What He Does: Brian is the Fly Fishing Sales Manager for Patagonia. In that capacity has been active in helping direct support from Patagonia, and the fly fishing industry at large, to the WSC.
Personal Philosophy: “For me, being passionate about fishing for steelhead goes hand in hand with being passionate about protecting these special fish and their habitat.”
Luke Kelly, Vice Chair
Backstory: Fishing since he could hold a fishing rod, Luke’s passion for exploring fisheries changed when he began fly fishing at age 9 and again when his family moved from Indiana to Colorado’s Roaring Fork valley at age 14. Luke began visiting steelhead waters of the Northwest in the 1990s. For the past six years Luke has been bouncing back and forth between Colorado and Washington, and in December of 2010, he made the permanent move to Seattle. Luke has fished for many different species on several continents, and steelheading has remained as one of his favorite pursuits.
First Steelhead: As with many steelhead fly anglers, Luke had to pay his dues before landing his first steelhead. It was his second trip and seventh day fly fishing for steelhead when Luke experienced his first pull. It was an October day on the Deschutes River, and by this point Luke had been worn down to simply going through the motions. Imagine his surprise when an eight pound wild hen grabbed his swinging fly and immediately headed for the Pacific! “I will never forget that first fish and it still humbles me today. I had researched the fish, the rivers, the heritage, and the fly fishing pioneers, but it all came together when I shared my first moment with that first steelhead. It was the catalyst of something that will last my lifetime.”
What He Does: Since graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Aquatic Environmental Sciences in 2001, Luke has been working in the field of fisheries management and stream restoration. A snapshot of Luke’s career includes: working for several private environmental consulting/engineering firms, a federal agency’s fishery department, a Northwest Native American Tribe’s fishery department, as well as founding his own fishery management company where he lead many projects that entailed the survey-evaluation-permitting-construction-and restoration of stream habitats. His experiences over the past decade have involved habitat evaluations and restoration projects on over 100 miles of streams in CO, WY, NM, and WA. Luke is also grateful to have been the president and co-founder of a nonprofit watershed organization in Colorado. Aside from fisheries, Luke has also been a fly fishing guide since 1997. Although guiding is not his main priority, Luke enjoys it immensely and he has begun guiding his clients for trout and steelhead in Washington.
Personal Philosophy: “I have been seduced by water and its wilderness since I was very young, and my fascination naturally matured into a passion, and finally into a career working on, in, and around freshwater and marine ecosystems. I believe it is a privilege to be on the board of the Wild Steelhead Coalition, and it is a pleasure working with such fine people who share a vision of wild steelhead conservation. These fish are very unique, complex, and spectacular, and their future is uncertain. I believe with diligence and collaboration, wild steelhead will be swimming in our waters for generations to come.”
Chris Wilke, Director
Backstory: Chris was born and raised in Seattle, WA with access to all that the Pacific Northwest outdoors has to offer: mountains, forests, rivers, Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. Chris’ educational and professional interests have taken him into areas of marine science, music and electronics. His formal education is in jazz music and liberal arts at Cornish College.
Whether it is sailing, skiing, SCUBA, fishing, shellfishing, paddling or hiking, Chris has always found a way to experience the best of his natural surroundings. His first experiences with fishing came exploring high mountain lakes for trout and casting for salmon and bottom fish with light tackle. Eventually he took up fly fishing which inevitably lead him to the allure of moving water and the challenge of tempting trout and steelhead in rivers.
First Steelhead: As with many people, Chris’ first steelhead came after several years of repetitive trying and “paying his dues”. Then, when he hooked and lost two fish in one day, it would mean another three years of dues paid before actually landing one. Finally, one day on the classic waters of the North Fork Stillaguamish River, Chris was rewarded with the catch and release of a wild Deer Creek summer run steelhead, caught on a dry fly while fishing for cutthroat trout, with his dog Kai as witness.
What he does: Chris’ professional career is dedicated to protecting our waters from pollution. He is the Executive Director and Puget Soundkeeper at Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a non-profit water quality advocacy organization in Seattle, WA focused on protecting and preserving the waters of Puget Sound. Chris also is the Pacific Regional Representative to the international Waterkeeper Council, where he represents the 29 licensed Pacific Region Waterkeeper organizations to the 200-plus member Waterkeeper Alliance, based in New York, NY.
Personal Philosophy: Although personally dedicated to catch and release of wild fish in rivers, Chris believes that whether no matter the method, fishing is a privilege that comes with responsibility. Anglers owe it to the resource to learn the ways and needs of the fish and the issues that may threaten them. No action is without impact, and it is important to practice strong ethics and to give back to the resource that gives us enjoyment and occasional sustenance, to ensure that it is viable for future generations.
Josh Mills, Director
Backstory: Growing up, hunting and fishing was always the focal point of Josh’s life. It’s served as the foundation what revs him up in life. Born in Spokane and ran around baseball fields through college and at age 19, took up fly fishing.
What he does: For the past 10 years, Josh has sold advertising for a group of radio stations in Spokane and for the the past four years, runs the fly fishing blog Chucking Line and Chasing Tail. He lives in Spokane, WA with his wife Kallie and their two sons Carson and Mason, and is only a short drive to the great eastside steelhead rivers.
First Steelhead: Twenty-two-years-old on my first guided steelhead fishing trip on the Grande Ronde with my father, OMR and guide Rick Hedding. Rick worked his ass off to show me the river and on that fateful day, I landed my first steelhead in the last run before the take out. It was a bloody amazing experience complete with fist pumps, chest bumps and other crazy behavior. A picture of that day hangs in my man cave and reminds me where my journey started.
Personal Philosophy: I have engaged in the conservation arena because I want to know that what we have now will be there for my children when they grow up. I have to know that I have given back to the things that I hold so dear. As sportsmen and women, we cannot just take and expect others to do the dirty and hard work to maintain our sporting heritage. Get out there, get involved. Now.
Paul Martini, Director
Backstory: As a teenager, Paul spent as much time as possible chasing trout in the Sierra Nevada. Paul’s attraction to the outdoors brought him to Washington nearly 30 years ago. He caught the steelhead bug, first on the Skagit and then on the Olympic Peninsula. Blessed with the opportunity to chase salmon, trout and steelhead throughout the Pacific Northwest, this brought Paul a keen understanding of these key natural resources, and the steelhead’s leading role in measuring the health of our Pacific Northwest environment.
What he does: Paul works for BDO USA, LLP, a professional accounting firm as Director of Business Development. Paul works with the broad range of people, companies and industries that make up our vibrant business community. The common theme among all of Paul’s relationships is our love of the outdoors.
First Steelhead: A big buck on the Skagit, just above Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Concrete. “The power of that fish was awesome!” Best day – with JD Love on the Sol Duc. “Hooked and lost two, three broke me off, and landed eight – that was a great day!”
Personal Philosophy: I am drawn to the wet, the wind, the sun and the land. To see more stars than there are people on earth. When you first hook a steelhead, they’re winning. I just want them to win for a long, long time.
Chase Gunnell, Director
Backstory: Born in Seattle to a family of diehard Pacific Northwest hunters, anglers and outdoors-people, Chase grew up salmon fishing out of Neah Bay, digging clams at Hood Canal, snowboard mountaineering on the Cascades volcanoes, and chasing birds around Eastern Washington. He inherited a healthy obsession with fish and wildlife and the wild places they inhabit, as well as a strong desire to make a positive impact on those surroundings.
What he does: Chase is the Communications Manager for Conservation Northwest, a regional non-profit that works to “Keep the Northwest wild” by protecting and connecting old-growth forests and other wild areas from the Washington Coast to the B.C. Rockies. His professional background is in PR, public affairs and political campaigns.
First Steelhead: Hooked while side-drifting on the Cowlitz River when he was a boy, Chase still remembers the power of his first steelhead. And how quickly it went airborne and spit the hook. Though he’s been a diehard salmon angler his entire life, he didn’t catch the steelhead bug until after college, when he brought a perfect 37” wild buck to hand on a coastal river and was ruined forever.
Personal Philosophy: One of the slogans of Washington state is “Innovation is in our Nature.” But today our nature badly needs innovation if we want to preserve the rich natural heritage we’ve been blessed with. Whether it’s declining wild steelhead returns, decades of abusive forest practices or unsustainable development, we need smart people working together with idealism but not illusions, or we risk losing what makes this spectacularly evergreen corner of the world so special.