Thank you VETS! On behalf of Soul River, Northwest Steelheaders & Wounded Veteran Fishing Program and Bitter Brush Ranch! Thank you to all Vets! Guides and Sponsors!
The River Ambassador Program is designed to help veterans who have recently returned from a war zone develop new skills and ways of responding to the inevitable stress that accompanies returning from a war zone back to
civilian life, and help participants feel respected and valued. The various approaches outlined in the program curriculum are specifically designed to support their healing process. The participants learn about preserving wildlife and natural habitats. Although the course speaks of life found in rivers and streams through the eyes of the angler, the connection is intentionally to get the participant to integrate successfully back into civilian life and to be life-long stewards of the environment. Respect for nature and its inhabitants is our core focus. The program fosters respect for our differences yet simultaneously celebrate what we have in common as war veterans, a high regard for natural habitats, the sport of fishing and our human bond.
In this age of mass communication and the demographic melting of societies and cultures with constantly evolving trends in fashion, music, and values we are experiencing the emergence of an unique sub-demographic breed of anglers that has been around for years in the industry. There highly intelligent, product testers, industry and knowledgeable leaders of all products to tactical application on the water mastering various disciplines for today’s new age angler. With popular culture dictating the perceived image of fly fishing with their Hollywood depictions in films like “The River Runs Through It” has jaded audiences and anglers who feel they are misrepresented. Popular trends, social causes, and new young anglers are pushing the evolution of the sport into something that hasn’t been portrayed yet in popular culture. This existing subculture has transformed both the visual aesthetics of the sport, techniques, and culture. It is very forward thinking; embracing all disciplines of the sport into sought after consultants of the industry, The Free Agents! By mastering the craft while adding on their own unique style, they operate like an artist working on a canvas, they are methodical yet expressive of change. I recently observed an angler casting a spey line into the water and was taken back by the beauty of their cast. The line moved like a calculated brush stroke before it delicately lay on the water lighter than a feather. This new age breed of angler has moved beyond your typical fisheries and is actively searching for new untouched fishing spots. Traveling like nomads, they canvas areas in pursuit of all types of trophy fish. Even with their unorthodox methods, they still hold on to the overarching respect for the river and still carry on as respectful ambassadors to the river.
Their knowledge and practices are in sync with any weather conditions, fueled by their passion and endless search for their next big catch. Their style and approach is an odd juxtaposition, mixing lightheartedness and humor with a serious philosophical approach to their connection with nature. Fun loving yet serious, these anglers are not your typical Hollywood representation. The soundtrack to their adventure is performed by a soft fiddler but a mesh of hip hop, indie, and new age echoing through the canyons. While this new age breed of angler may seem relaxed and distracted, don’t be fooled; they are at the top of their game. They are sought out by industry like “Free Agents” of the sport! And knowledgeable of all products. They thrive as scholar anglers teaching only to the ones whom are open minded and humble to want to learn. This new age angler “Free Agents! look down upon the elite due to their closed minds and egotistical mannerism.
I recently had the opportunity to join a group of these new breed of anglers for an amazing, eye opening four day trip. The experience was unforgettable, observing these anglers in their element and embracing their style and approach while learning a new lingo vocabulary of a new age rising culture. We converged at the secret rally point deep in the canyons where they meet once a year for their annual trip. There I met an eclectic group of anglers from all over the country who all shared a deep respect for the river and a love for the sport.
The only way I could describe them is “submesh culture”. A mix of influences melted into a unique breed of angler. Untamed, raw, intelligent and leaders but yet incredibly respectful to the river and sport. They have seen and done it all and cannot be swayed by conventional media. They are unconventional and must be approached in such a way when marketing towards them. They know good products and exactly what they need. They are teachers and philosophers raised by the river, They cannot be deceived or settled. They are intelligent, experienced, and completely immune to traditional approaches to marketing. They can only be approached with respect and a mutual understanding. They respond to truth and authenticity and are very critical when receiving marketing messages. Similar to the bison, you need to take great care when persuading this group, they value authenticity and will not respond to manufactured messages. By gaining a thorough understanding of their culture and values you can appeal to their unique tastes for an effective response. But failing to respect and understand this culture could potentially alienate them from your messaging or even just you.