Honorary Board of Directors
Jim Schmitz, Honorary Director
Backstory: Jim was born an identical twin in Tacoma, Washington and has been thinking about rivers and fish his entire life. His early years were spent fly fishing for trout and salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. At the age of 9, his addiction for fly fishing and tying flies became his true passion.
His First Steelhead: Technically, Jim’s first steelhead was caught on the Cowlitz River. But that one wasn’t wild. His first encounter with a wild steelhead was on the Snake River.
What He Does: Jim studied fisheries and forest ecology at the University of Washington. Throughout his college summers and four years post graduation, he guided fly fishing trips for Lost River Outfitters in Ketchum, Idaho, where he also got involved as a volunteer with the Idaho Nature Conservancy and Idaho Rivers United. Jim returned to graduate school to earn his M.A. in Education with a focus on Biology and environmental sciences. He now owns and operates Western Machine Works, Inc., his 100 year old family business in Tacoma, and spends his days off skiing, chasing fish, birds and kids.
His Philosophy: “I consider myself fortunate to have had some great sportsmen in my life. They not only turned me onto my passions, but helped me realize the importance of sustaining and supporting our natural wonders. Now, I am highly motivated to focus my own personal and professional experiences on helping future generations. I’ve been involved with many non-profit groups over the past 10 years, but have found none so dedicated and focused as the WSC.”
Rich Simms, Honorary Director
Backstory: Rich grew up in Poulsbo, WA, fishing the many steelhead streams of the Olympic Peninsula. He learned to mooch for Chinook salmon with his father on Puget Sound. He’s had an undying passion for chasing steelhead since his childhood, and now fishes for steelhead all around the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.
First Steelhead: As a twelve-year-old, Rich caught his first winter steelhead on a frigid January day with leaky hip waders on the West Fork of the Humptulips River; a day he will always remember.
What He Does: Rich is a founding board member of the Wild Steelhead Coalition and has been its President since 2003. He is an Industrial Design professional with 20 years experience in project management and problem solving processes. Rich’s experiences as a designer and project manager help him to see the big picture without forsaking the details, and to understand that success is a collaborative effort.
Personal Philosophy: “I still get as excited about steelhead fishing as when I was kid. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to fish for steelhead on the streams of Hood Canal. That’s not possible anymore: these streams– along with many other fine steelhead streams– have been reduced to a fraction of their past abundance. I’m committed to steelhead recovery and to engaging all anglers and conservationists to help recapture the steelhead legacy of the Pacific Northwest.”