July 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of TU's founding on the banks of the Au Sable River near Grayling, Michigan. In 1959 on the banks of Michigan's Au Sable River, a small group of Michigan anglers banded together to ensure the health of trout, their habitat and the sport of angling. The 16 fishermen who gathered at the home of George Griffith were united by their love of trout fishing, and by their growing discontent with the state's practice of stocking its waters with "cookie cutter trout"—catchable-sized hatchery fish. Convinced that Michigan's trout streams could turn out a far superior fish if left to their own devices, the anglers formed a new organization: Trout, Unlimited (the comma was dropped a few years later) dedicated to ensuring that wild and native trout populations were allowed to thrive, as nature intended.
Just two years later, the fledgling conservation organization won its first victory: Michigan had replaced its indiscriminate stocking of catchable-sized trout with stream improvement programs, fingerling planting and protective fishing regulations designed to protect the wild, native fish. With its first policy statement on wild trout, TU persuaded the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to curtail "put-and-take" trout stocking and start managing for wild trout and healthy habitat. On the heels of that success, anglers quickly founded TU chapters in Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania.
From the beginning, TU was guided by the principle that if we "take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself." And that principle was grounded in science. "One of our most important objectives is to develop programs and recommendations based on the very best information and thinking available," said TU's first president, Dr. Casey E. Westell Jr. "In all matters of trout management, we want to know that we are substantially correct, both morally and biologically."
Trout Unlimited Today
Today, Trout Unlimited is America’s leading trout and salmon conservation organization. Trout Unlimited has more than 150,000 members and 500 volunteer-based chapters spread across the United States and Canada, who are dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
From its hundreds of local stream restoration projects, to helping lead the way to restore the Driftless area of the midwest, to compelling Congress to strengthen the Clean Water Act, TU has a strong 50 year track record of conservation achievements. Perhaps TU's greatest strength is that it works at multiple levels of society and government to achieve its mission. From the landowner on the stream bank, to the state fisheries agency, to the Halls of Congress, TU is working to achieve its vision.
The Trout Unlimited Organization
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and a grass-roots board called the National Leadership Council. The NLC is comprised of a representative from each state. Trout Unlimited’s national headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia. The national office, based just outside of Washington, D.C., employs professionals who testify before Congress, publish TU's quarterly magazine, intervene in federal legal proceedings and work with TU's grassroots volunteers to keep them active and involved in conservation issues. National staff for TU are also located in the Northwest, Northeast, upper Midwest and Southeast and Rocky Mountains.
At the state level, Trout Unlimited works closely with State agencies, conservation organizations, corporations, local volunteers and TU members to organize stream clean-ups, public awareness activities and field trips to local streams.
Nearly 50 years after its founding, no other conservation organization is as well placed as TU to make a difference for the nation's coldwater fisheries. To learn more about TU's ambitious conservation agenda, please visit the conservation section of our website or visit the Trout Unlimited website.
WI Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited's mission is to conserve, protect, and restore America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. Wisconsin Trout Unlimited supports this mission at the local and state level with an extensive and dedicated volunteer network consisting of 22 chapters and almost 4000 members. Visit the Wisconsin TU website for more information.