In our latest installment, we catch up with research scientists Nate Mantua, chef Loretta Keller, and entertainment lawyer Tom Hansen.
Hometown: Santa Cruz, CA
Occupation: Research Scientist
Favorite rivers: “Anywhere in Steelhead Country, from northern British Columbia to California’s Big Sur Coast.
“Towards the end of Central California’s 2019 winter steelhead season I found myself on my home river with just a few hours to fish. Fishing conditions had been poor all season, but on this day the river had finally dropped to a fishable level and turned the emerald green that inspires confidence for swinging a fly. It was one of those days when you just feel like the stars have lined up. I stepped into a favorite run and started fishing my way down.
“On my fourth cast the fly stopped and I felt a solid pull – I lifted the rod and it was game on. The fish turned just under the surface and I saw black and chrome, probably 8 lbs. It’s not a large pool, and the fish didn’t run far. After a few minutes I found a likely landing spot, but when I got the leader in close the hook pulled free. There and gone. One of those steelhead experiences where you’re left with your hands shaking and heart pounding, and then a few minutes later wondering ‘Did that really happen?'”
Why WSC? “I love the fact that the WSC targets strongholds all around the Pacific Rim, and that they partner with and empower local groups for effective and lasting conservation actions. I also love the way they put salmon-oriented science into action.”
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Favorite rivers: “The McCloud in California, for its cold water and enduring power, its stunning beauty and depth of natural wonders — the spectacular darmera/elephant ear/Indian rhubarb in particular.
“The Sapsuk, aka Hoodoo River in Alaska, on the Aleutian peninsula. For its remoteness, the chance to encounter all five species of Pacific salmon in a single day, blasting in from the Bering Sea. Also the bears, caribou, wolves, otters, fox and many bird species, not to mention steelhead, Dolly Varden and char, as well as many volcanos and a fabulous night sky. On the Hoodoo last September, during a short flight at low altitude, we took in the vistas of fall colors on the tundra — faded greens, golds and rusty reds, a flat soft patchwork of autumn colors punctuated by dark water ponds and small hilly rises. They were dotted with shrubs and weathered vegetation, holding buck caribou. Then the winding river cam into view, spotted with bears, catching and hunting salmon. The volcanoes Pavlof and Sister loomed in the distance.”
Why WSC? “My friend (and longtime WSC board member) Dr. John McCosker introduced me to the Wild Salmon Center and served as my main motivator, capturing my interest with the work and mission of the organization. I come from British Columbia, as does my mother, so I was raised on salmon and had the scent of cedar, fir and moss in my nose from birth.”
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Entertainment lawyer
Favorite places: “My father was an avid gear fisherman so I grew up fishing the ocean, surf and local lakes and rivers. Going to the Sierras to fish was a very major event. As to a favorite river, I love fishing for Golden Dorado in the Rio La Plata system. I really love tropical fishing.
“I was invited to fish on the Tugur River in the Russian Far East a few years through my long time fishing partner Skip Brittenham. Guido Rahr was our host and brought to my attention the tremendous work the WSC was doing. The importance of wild salmon as the life blood of the enormous North Pacific region really inspired me.”