Hope you all have had a Great Summer so far! As you may have noticed in the slideshow above, our Sacred Waters Donors sure are! I must say, for someone who doesn't have a "Real Job", I've sure been busy. We've had some Awesome Dry Fly fishing going on, all through August and most of September so far.
What's been going on at Sacred Waters Co?
Other than some fantastic dry fly fishing for Trophy Sized Wild Trout a lot has been going on. As for with myself I am no longer employed at the Ski and Bow Rack, Now I have all my time and energy wrapped up in Sacred Waters Co. and the Charities we support. So if you need to get in contact with me please call (970)444-2187 or email email@example.com .
I would like to take this moment to Thank all of our Donors for the support that helped make this Dream a Reality and help give us the opportunities to start fulfilling our Mission goals.
We are experiencing some of the best "real" dry fly fishing you could ask for by fulfilling the Mission of spreading out pressure through our 10+miles of rivers and lakes on our Ranches and the fishes are happy & healthy.
My Professional Anglers', my personal & ranch availability to our Donors has made scheduling quick and easy. As well as looking into the future booking extending our donors fishing season to the truly "Best" times to fish this area. Yes, July and August aren't the only times to fish around here actually they can some of the worst times. I have been pushing this through retail tourist outfitting for years and have taught a lot of people this but through Sacred Waters it's made it much easier and our donors are only loving every minute of it, as well as learning more on becoming well rounded anglers... And it's just the start of the So-Called "Off-Season".
We have been able to Donate some Guided Fly Fishing Trips to Local Charities and other Non-Profits to provide Quality Fishing, Learning, & Healing Experiences to others in our community as well as help raise monies for their organizations. None of which was easily or at all possible with overbooked, over pressured Retail Guided Waters or for over worked, under paid Guides in the past. I would like to Thank everyone who made it to the Veterans Memorial Park of Archuleta County Golf Outing last month thank you for helping raise money for a good cause.
We have had some fishery surveying done on our Sacred Waters/Ranches, and started hashing out plans on how to improve our waters even more. For you, for everyone, and for the future of every fishery. What we do to improve our waters improves the whole ecosystem. Quality headwaters upstream enhance all waters downstream, plus fish don't have boundaries... We are working on tweaking some stream habitat work to improve spawning. sanctuary side channel waters should boost wild fish reproduction and survival through the entire river system, since a majority of our Sacred Waters Ranches are in the headwaters. As well as bank stabilization and cooling/shading from long, on-going willow planting. This slows silt distribution downstream as well as keeping water temperatures cooler. We had planted/stocked a few small hatchery raised rainbow trout fingerlings and will continue to do so through next Spring/Early Summer on an experiment to boost Wild Rainbow Trout Reproduction in the San Juan River Drainage. Reasoning behind this is a fisheries biomass/diversity survey stated we were below expected average of juvenile wild rainbow population. So my plan is in effect. Small stocking of different age classes of rainbows as well as different genetic biodiversity, by varying sized of 9-13" fish in small quantity, then 3-4" fish in higher quantity, then 5-7" fish in slightly less higher quantity over the next two years, and finally leave it be for a few years with the hopes of varying ages of fish, different strains/subspecies &/or parents/genetics, and being in the Wild at an early age should increase survival rates, chances of natural reproduction, and at worst case scenario have some beautiful healthy semi-wild holdovers for years to come. So to my Donor Members and guest you all know I try to mange everything as Wild as possible so if we happen to catch a few of these little guys that may look different then your used to seeing in the San Juan Drainage this is why. Reasoning I could go on for days, but long story short we as humans have screwed a lot of things up and we as humans now a responsible to fix the screw ups of the past. Maybe I'll elaborate more later.....
Our United States of America Disabled Veterans Groups and Events have been wonderful experiences for all involved from our Professional Anglers, to our Volunteers, to our Veterans. To give back to those who've sacrificed so much for all of us as citizens of this country is so rewarding it's hard for me to explain in written word. All I can say is I have been doing these events for a long time now and this year's because of Sacred Waters was even better to actually be able to dedicate all of my time before, and during, to the event. Being able to personally Guide everyday, to provide Professional Anglers to our Vets, to provide well rested high quality private waters to our Vets, PA's, and Volunteers. To be able to hang out and socialize with everyone. To stay up all night listening to peoples stories, being able to share my knowledge of the environment, of fishing, of life without prior work related obligations pulling me away. Since I can't really express it as well as I feel it I do plan on adding a Testimonials Page to the site as soon as I can and maybe those involved in these events can say it for me or at least better than I can.
We had Hosted two Groups recently Patriot Anglers of North Texas and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing of Ft. Hood, TX. we had a beautiful log cabin right on the San Juan River with semi-private fishing access provided by the McEacharn Family at San Juan River Village and other lodging with our regular annual volunteer guide Sherman Winters. Plenty of delicious food cooked by our Volunteers Michelle Visel, Bonnie Weathers, Carol & John Frakes, Lesley & Greg Burroughs, Joni & Shawn Felts. The Money Donation from Archuleta County Vets for Vets. Finally, of course all the Volunteer Guides & PA's, thank you Dennis Davis, Stan Zuege, Michael "Feathers" Moats, Sherman Winters, Doug Hampton, and Richard "Big Dick from Wolf Crick" Baldwin.
Special Thanks to Mark "Pop's" Miller at Let it Fly for donating all the Fishing Licenses, waders, and Flies for the event, Doug Dragoo Chairman of Mayfly Outdoors for yet another year of donations of Abel Reels & Ross Reels USA products & reels for door prizes, Jeff Abel of JTA Products/ The Measure Net for donating a Free Net for every Veteran. Thank you all for these donations not only did it make for a fun, rewarding, and exciting bonus to the event you did help provide these men & women of our US Armed Forces the ability to continue fly fishing and healing well into the future. Thank You.....
This year's event was missing one thing though Mr. Joseph "Russ" Weathers, Russ had been a volunteer Guide for all of our Veterans Events here in Pagosa Springs over the years as well as a Marine Veteran himself. Russ had passed away this year and was missed by all whom had known him this year.
We are hosting one more Patriot Anglers Group of Veterans Oct. 25-26th 2017, so Donors please keep that in mind and it is on the Calendar. There will be somewhat limited availability of Professional Anglers & Ranches for that time-frame. This is a smaller group and shorter stay than most our events in the past so we do have some of our PA's and waters still available.
(* Photos in slideshow below of our Veterans Events also many more on Sacred Waters Instagram & Facebook Pages* )
Sacred Waters Charter Donor updates:
We have had a ton of fishing fun so far this year and still much more to come in the next few months, Thank you for your support.
Those of you still having any troubles with your Private Log-in for the Booking Calendar please call or email us so we can help walk you through it or to schedule your guided trips.
The Sacred Waters Stickers, Hats, T-Shirts, Fishing Shirts, and Custom Abel Reels are in production and hope to have them soon, I'll keep you updated, I do have your sizes but will be in contact because I do have some variety of color combinations.
A quick heads up too those of you who have not booked up or used all your guided fishing days we do fish year-round as you know, but some Ranches availability or access could be in question moving into Autumn & Winter Seasons due to snow, road closures &/or freezing waters. So in order the East Fork Ranch is accessed by a Forest Service Road that will close when the USFS feels it's time usually Nov. also depends on Brown & Brook Trout Spawning season(I will shutdown EFR for the Spawn), Weber Ranches are accessible till the river freezes usually Nov.-Dec. the river is large enough that our fishing & strategic wading won't effect the spawn(reminder Our PA's will NOT let you fish for bedded up spawners , and little to no worries on Pick_Bar Ranch open year-round. Just keep that in mind.....
As always I update my personal & Sacred Waters Social Media more often than the website cause I can from my cell phone. So please check those Instagram & Facebook pages to see up to date happenings in our area and with Sacred Waters. Please feel free to call us or email for any up to date fishing conditions, reports, to book a guided trip &/or upcoming events/volunteer opportunities.
Lastly, we did restructure the lay out of quantities of donor fishing levels, since we did not fill every level quantity this year we did open more Silver Levels just for 2017, any one interested in donating at a Silver Level we do have 3 1/2 months of the 2017 left. Anyone interested in renewing, or donating for 2018 we can do so at anytime. Thanks
July and August so far had been a busy time for the team here at Sacred Waters CO. Sorry I have not been able to write much lately but it’s been busy busy. Who’d of thought managing a retail sporting goods store & outfitter, working with four charities and the ramping up of Sacred Waters would be so time consuming?
First off I would like to Thank all our Charter Donor Members who have made this Dream a Reality. Many of their photos and adventures on Sacred Waters Co's Conservation Waters were on the Slideshow at the top on this Blog Post. Without YOU and your generosity None of this would be possible. Thank You .....
(Sorry if I missed some photos everyone has waterproof cameras & smartphone nowadays didn't have everyone's photo on hand.)
Meet our Founding Donors:
Doug Dragoo Chairman of Mayfly Outdoors owners of Abel Reels, Ross Reels, and Charlton Reels. Longtime Donor, Friend and Client. Special Thanks for the Custom Sacred Water’s Signature Abel Reels and all of your Donations of Ross Reels for our Veterans Events over the years.
Greg Wambolt of Wambolt Wealth Financial Planners and Fly of the Month Club. Donor and Client. Special Thanks for being a part Sacred Water’s Financial Planning Team.
Randy Cottingham of Texas & Pagosa Springs, CO. Donor and Regular Fishing Client.
“Joe, I want to take this moment to tell you how much I appreciate your passion for your sport as well as for giving back to veterans. As is so often the case, those who don't have the most resources are oftentimes the ones willing to give what they do have away in order to serve a worthy cause; I am sure that is something from your upbringing coming out in you. I admire your persistence and to be quite honest, see my joining your organization really as an investment in a young man more than fishing or veterans. I hope you are encouraged by the knowledge that I believe in you and am thankful to have the opportunity to help you take your next step in your developing career in resource management. Take care.” - Thanks, Randy
Curt Grindal of Pagosa Springs, CO. Donor and Longtime Regular Fishing Client.
“I believe in you and your vision, I'm looking forward to 'being on the team” - Curt
Greg Burroughs Donor, friend, client, longtime Supporter & Volunteer of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and Patriot Anglers of North Texas from Pagosa Springs, CO
“I would love to be a part of this!”
Dr. Greg Evans of Texas, a Veteran of Foreign Wars,longtime Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Member/Participate and Member/Participate of Patriot Anglers of North Texas.
Skip Tangner, of Oklahoma. Donor, regular fishing client, and hardcore fly angler
Dave Nordstrom of Pagosa Springs, CO. Donor, and longtime regular fishing client.
“This looks like a great project and a great idea. I believe that Joe Eichelberger is a good honest guy, and you’re truly trying to do something good for all, fishes, vets, kids, and landowners.” - Nordy
Dr. Edward “Joey” Artnak of Austin Texas. Donor, friend, and regular fishing client.
"This sounds like a wonderful plan of action and I am so glad that you are doing something great to keep the fisheries alive and healthy. I just donated to your organization. Thank you so much Joe! I can't tell you what it means to have a friend of your caliber to help us make an annual fishing trip possible....I can promise you that once I get financially set in my life, I will be bringing everyone to you and guaranteed yearly members!!!” - Joey
Mirrel Kephart long term donor, friend, Veteran of Foreign Wars, Retired Marine, Host & Volunteer of PHWFF & Patriot Anglers of North Texas Events of Pagosa Springs, CO.
“Joe, Great job. Sorry I can't give more right now. Hope it helps.”- Mirrel
John Bearrie Vietnam Veteran, donor, friend, and longtime regular fishing client.
What’s been happening with Sacred Waters the last few weeks:
Those of you who may not be in the area or been watching our weather daily, July had started hot and dry with everything becoming more fishable daily as runoff snow melt season tapered off. Then the Monsoon Season began towards the end of the first week of July and first week of August had been extremely rainy with most streams in our area blowing out high and muddy every few days.
We are fortunate enough to have a variety of different waters available to get some guiding done though in that time-frame. I am extremely grateful too, to get a lot of children and women on my retail trips this July as well as a few Veterans and Sacred Waters Donor Trips out in July and early August so far. Photos and reports from trips have been posted on our Sacred Waters Facebook and Sacred Waters Instagram Pages regularly please check them out by clicking the links above. The weather and waters are calming down and stabilizing more daily fishing should only get better daily everywhere. But, remember we have plenty enough waters between Sacred Waters Conservation Waters and our partner retail businesses that there’s always something to fish around here daily/year round. Please call (970)444-2187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for most detailed up to date conditions and fishing reports.
All Donor Fishing Members should have received a Private Login Link via email to set-up login & password to the Private Pages and Calendar. Please contact us if you had not received that email or need help logging in or booking a Guided Fishing Day. Thanks
Special Thanks to Jim Easley and John Hudson Winners of the Archuleta Vets 4 Vets Golf Tournament Auction of a Free Guided Trip with me on the EFR on July 18th. Fun Times! Thank You for your Support of our local Veterans.
Congratulations to our Archuleta County 4H Kids for all your hard work on your County and State Fair Exhibits and Ribbons. Thank you Archuleta County 4H for letting me Judge the Exhibits for so many years and your support of our local youth.
Exciting News and things in the works at Sacred Waters:
This is all only possible because of Donors like you and the Sacred Waters Mission.
Additional Discounted Lodging Opportunities for our donor members, volunteers, and event participates. We are in process of securing up to 3 Lodgers with Private Fishing Access before the end of 2017 season or by 2018 season. (As we continue to fulfill our Financial Goals & Mission which will benefit All Donor Levels, volunteers, & event participates.)
As well as up to 5-6 Additional Conservation Waters/Ranches also may become available before the end of 2017 season or by 2018 season. (As we continue to fulfill our Financial Goals & Mission which will benefits All Donor Levels, volunteers, event participates, and the local environments/fisheries.)
Latest upcoming event:
The Veterans Memorial Park of Archuleta County Golf Outing on Saturday August 26th 2017 from 9am-2pm. Sacred Waters will be Sponsoring a Tee Box for Event. As well as Donating Another Free Two Person Full Day Guided Fly Fishing Trip on one of our Conservation Waters for the Auction a Value of: $1500.00 Come on by and have some Fun, while supporting a great cause. Details click here: Veterans Memorial Park Golf Outing 2017
We at Sacred Waters CO are in support of Petitioning Colorado Parks & Wildlife and 1 other
Prohibition of Bowfishing for Nothern Pike in Colorado
Click Here to Sign Petition & Donate: Colorado Pike and Trophy Sportfish Coalition
You will notice some more details on the Conservation Waters Page. I had added more description of our conservation waters/ranches. I recently added descriptions of Physical/Wading Ability Levels and Angler Experience/Ability Level recommendations per Ranch &/or sections of Ranch. Also added Real-Time Water Flows & Weather Forecasts Links per Conservation Water/Ranch.
(Please keep in mind if planning a trip the average recommended flows, if you click on the real-time stream flow gauge and see a drastic spike/rise in flows on EFR or Webers even if it is within recommended range the water may get murky to muddy. Not much of a factor on Pick Bar. Please call or email for most up to date conditions.)
Newest Partner Organizations: Please check them out and show your Support to those we support and support Sacred Waters CO & Our Mission. Thank You.
EA on the Web
EA on Facebook
EA on Instagram
Colorado Pike and Trophy Sportfish Coalition
CO Pike & Trophy Sportfish on Facebook
and petition on change.org
In Addition we should have Our Non-Profit and Testimonials Webpages Finished Soon, so look forward to that on Sacred Waters CO Website Soon.
Thank You, Tight Lines;
President of Sacred Waters CO.
Professional Angler, Custom Fly Tyer/Designer
Freelance Outdoors Writer, Photographer, & Fisheries Consultant
Sacred Waters CO
135 Country Center Dr F 166
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Sacred Waters Facebook
Sacred Waters Instagram
Hello all from Joe Eichelberger and the Sacred Waters Team! We hope you had an Awesome Independence Day. I understand you were busy with the 4th of July holiday, I sent our initial invitation emails a couple weeks ago and I wanted to make sure you are aware of a very exciting opportunity to do some good in the world and experience the waters we call Sacred. We’ve received an extremely exciting amount of responses and donations. Donor Memberships are filling up rapidly. I’m reaching out to you all before all the memberships are filled. You may know these waters we call sacred. Sacred Waters has an exclusive agreement with the landowners of the properties we provide to our donors. These sacred waters will never be guided as retail outfitting locations ever again, these waters can only be accessed by members of Sacred Waters and for charity work with local youth and our disabled veterans groups for a few annual events.
As I discussed everything with the first respondents to my initial private invitation email, I did receive a lot of the same questions. A couple things weren’t as easily seen on the website, which has been fixed recently. As well as a FAQ’s Page and updated Sacred Waters Donor Benefits and Contract that we hope will help clarify everything better for you.
I am aware that you are not always in Southwest Colorado year round. I would like to take the opportunity to discuss Sacred Waters with you in further detail. I would like schedule a time to discuss the land management and volunteer work we do as a pending 501(3c). As well as the benefits and access to water you will receive with your Donation to Sacred Waters. I’d like to put some time in on the telephone, or in person, with you before there are no more memberships available. We are excited about this opportunity and would like to share it with you, as you are one of the people that have an appreciation for the vision of Sacred Waters Mission.
We would love for you to Join Sacred Waters Fly Fishing Elite Charter Donors.
Here are some of our Charter Donors and their contributions to our Mission.
My friend Douglas Dargoo of Mayfly Outdoors (Ross Reels, Abel Reels, & Charlton Reels) of Montrose, Colorado USA. Sacred Waters would like to give Doug a special thanks for donating an Abel “Sacred Waters Signature” reel to each of our Platinum Donors as well as all of contributions of Ross Reels to all our Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and Vets 4 Vets Events over years.
Charter Donor Member Greg Wambolt of Wambolt & Associates Wealth Management Partners of Littleton, Colorado. Sacred Waters Financial Planner as well as owner of Fly of the Month Club .
Thank You, Tight Lines!
Joseph Eichelberger, President of Sacred Waters
135 Country Center Dr F 166
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Sacred Waters Facebook
Sacred Waters Instagram
Hello all it's Joseph Eichelberger Founder, President, and Professional Angler of Sacred Waters CO. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram probably been wondering why I'm only posting 1 or 2 fish photos every few days of a carp or a bass from our local lakes. That's because I been working on this project the last three months, but as you know I still need my daily fishing fix. This project has been a learning experience to say the least due to the fact none of us involved are non-profit organizer, attorneys, or accountants, just a bunch of professional anglers, whitewater guides, fisheries/ranch managers, wranglers, and geologists. But now we are totally legal and ready to start operating starting earlier this past week.
I'd like to personally invite you to our organization that is only possible because of people like you. Sacred Waters will provide you with even more exclusive private access to our conservation waters of the East Fork Ranch on the East Fork of the San Juan, the Weber Ranches of the Upper San Juan that you probably fished with me over years and loved also while helping a great cause that will only make these fisheries even better than you've ever seen in the past. In addition a fabulous fishery of the Pic Bar Ranch on Pine/Los Pinos Tailwater you've never seen because it has never been guided by anyone ever in the past, I may have showed you photos some of the beautiful trophy wild trout we've caught there our the years, but now due to the formation of Sacred Waters and our Mission they have opened it up to a few select people like you.
I am sorry for such short notice darn legal governmental red tape takes some time but pretty sure the Fish Gods were in our favor as our waters have just became more fishable as of last week and will only get better daily. I'll be posting an updated Fishing Reports on Sacred Waters Blog to keep you posted on our local weather, water conditions, hatch activity, etc...
After much work from my board of directors and I, we are finally proud to announce the formation of Sacred Waters , a fisheries and headwaters conservation non profit based in Pagosa Springs, CO. Our focus at Sacred Waters is preventing the destruction of local fisheries, educating youth, and helping disabled veterans enjoy angling. We recognize the limited resource we have in our waters and strive to improve our local fisheries by working with landowners, anglers, guides, news media, and land management agencies.
Sacred Waters’ donors benefits include wade and float access to gold medal waters, educational seminars, field workshops, preferential lodging reservations, and backcountry experiences arranged by our staff. Donor benefits are dependent on your contribution level. Here’s a link summarizing the recommended donor levels and benefits available:
Sacred Waters donors provide local youth and disabled veterans with free educational fishing opportunities led by professional anglers and protection for critical fish habitat.
For more information on experiencing world class fishing opportunities while supporting rural youth and disabled veterans contact Sacred Waters through our “Contact Us” page or contact me directly. Thank you, we only have a limited amount of Donor Memberships available please feel free to contact us anytime.
Joseph Eichelberger, President of Sacred Waters
135 Country Center Dr F 166
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Many of you that know me well enough have probably understood all you've read so far on the Sacred Waters website those of you have not let me elaborate.
My latest inspiration for finally spearheading this project came on a day that just kept replaying in my mind, feelings that at least for me am incapable of putting into words.
I was guiding with a young man 9 yrs of age (solo as preferred to teach children or any loved one you’d like to learn and enjoy what you love).
This young man was very eager to learn and asked tons of questions on our short drive. He expressed a strong interest in catching a sucker fish (which he and his grandpa seen in the river the previous day) so that was a conversation starter on the role sucker fish fit in the ecosystem. The facts that they are one of just a few of truly Native Fishes here as well as an endangered species. For me, his interest touched a nerve of the innocence and non prejudice nature of children.
Long story short, we went through all the ins and outs of fly fishing. He did awesome catching a few suckers, smaller trout and the Big 20" Bow pictured here 100% all on his own. Afterwards, I dropped him off with his Grandpa discussing the day’s events with such enthusiasm and smiles. It was just a wonderful feeling that is hard for me to explain in words.
Afterwards I proceeded to my next event for the day which was a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Event we were hosting here in Pagosa Springs.
I arrived at the event in time to help a few of the disabled veterans at a neighborhood pond while waiting for dinner to get finished.
Again, those who have open-minds wanting to learn are inspiring to me. We commenced through all details of fly fishing. Seeing the excitement as people made good casts, caught fish, hearing the stories of their day fishing with our volunteer guides; their stories of how the sport of fly fishing has helped heal them being physically, emotionally, &/or spiritually.
How it has Helped Save Their Lives, it all just hit home deep in my soul.
As the evening progressed I gave a little speech and presented gifts to the Veteran group donated by Ross Reels USA. Once again to see the excitement, appreciation, gratitude from all these people and being able to give them all free rods, reels, fly lines, leaders, flies, and the ability to keep on Healing through Fly Fishing.
I remember speaking of my morning’s event and how grateful I was to be able to do all of these things for everyone.
How I wish I didn't have to work for a living so I could do all this for free everyday.
Fishing makes us less the hostages to the horrors of making a living. It is a time warp we may step into for a little peace.
Over all the years in this industry and all the conversations with other Professional Anglers, Landowners, and Clients about how the average Retail Fly Shop Outfitting does not work well for anyone or anything.
In March 2017 these discussions came back up with two Ranch Owners I've held long-term leases with for most of my time here in Pagosa Springs about 8 years. They stated they were not wanting to renew contracts due to it wasn't worth the money, the hassle, and the abuse of their land and fish.
I’m not going to lie, they were totally right, but I felt like my whole world pulled out from under me with no warning.
I was always told and always believed that I held higher standards for my Outfitting, towards myself, my guides, and even my clients everywhere I’ve worked.
We did not overbook trips, on our busiest year(season) for example in the retail outfitting of these two properties we guided a total of 264 people through these waters and turned down just as many other trips. Our actual capacity on just these two properties could be 2760 people total in just our short season if ran like most seasonal tourist guide services.
What if I didn't spread out pressure equally between each beat, for example on if I guided each ranch everyday one ranch it would be 6-7days before I’d see the same beat again and 3-4 days on the other Ranch.
What if I didn’t cut down two years ago to only guiding my own clients. To just offering guided trips to my own long term existing clients, a few client referrals, and a few disabled Veterans got on these waters.
We never fished or booked trips during bad environmental conditions low, warm waters that may be hazardous to the health of the fishes will not be fished.
We did not do any fishing or guiding that may have affected spawning fishes at those locations . I managed all my waters as Wild Trout Fisheries, unless there's extreme adverse environmental conditions (flooding, landslides, winter kill, droughts or recent necessary stream rehabilitation work) occur that may harm the fishery then some hatchery fingerlings may be planted to help sustain the population.
Even with my best efforts to apply my fishing ethical standards, the Retail Guiding business model was/is Broken. I'm not saying this acrossed the board. In some states, some localities, it does work well enough, but does not work here due to many factors. We will continue to touch on through future Blog posts as well as with some Sacred Waters Advocacy Actions.
I discussed this Idea I’ve had for the last few years of what is now Sacred Waters and the Ranch Owners were very receptive and decided to continue our contracts.
This all has been a kick in the pants to not be afraid of taking the risk to do what I’ve always thought was right and the best, well personally speaking only option for our local environment and to help others.
Now the Sacred Water Journey begins……
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Welcome to Sacred Waters. I’m the founder and President Joe Eichelberger and I’d like to give you a little background on why we exist and what we intend to do. But first, a little background...
Those that know me have heard me say time and time again “I care more about these waters and their fish than I do about money.” I say it because that is how I truly feel, and starting this non profit is me doing something about it instead of just talking. I constantly preach about not booking trips during low, warm, lethal water conditions. I’d rather not work than to book a guided trip on overfished water or fish during spawning activity. This is a chance to do what I know is right.
Recreationally and professionally, I have been in this fishing game for a long time. No seriously, I've done it all from fly shop staff, sporting goods staff, buyer, manager, fly tying, casting instruction, guiding, commercial fishing, field testing equipment, writing articles, interviews for articles, photo shoots, filming for movies & TV, and ranch/fisheries management. None of those careers provided me with much sense accomplishment. I don't want to be famous I want to help change the world. What I can say is that I'm happy teaching (guiding), managing fisheries, writing educational newsletters, publishing fishing reports, and enjoy testing & developing quality gear as a pro-staffer/field tester to help make fishing more fun and less work for everyone.
I was raised to believe that making money hunting and fishing were somehow bad, but I justified my guiding knowing that I'm a teacher, and a damn good one. I teach people how to cast, tie knots, properly handle fish. I teach them about fish & insect life-cycles, ecosystems, and water conservation. My family had also stated many concerns about the long term direction of the outdoor industry. They saw declining fishing and hunting opportunities and a downward spiral of ethical standards. High pay-to-play costs, unauthentic high fence ranches and “canned hunts”, big money corporatized tournaments, headwater degradation, over usage and abuse of our public lands. The more outdoor industry jobs I worked, I began watching more and more of my families predictions start to unfold in front of my eyes.
Helping the environment and people have always been more important and rewarding to me than making a six figure salary but let’s keep it real, money is a necessity of life in our society. We considered a private fishing club, with a traditional corporate business model and likely higher profits, but something just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel true to the core beliefs that my family instilled in me. My family and many close friends fought these private clubs and guide services and they’ve advocated against heavily-stocked, inferior GMO pellethead fisheries. No, the ethics of a club or guide service didn’t appeal to me, and was the total opposite of what direction I wanted to move Sacred Waters in. I could not morally go down that road nor be a hypocrite. Like I’ve always said “I care more about these waters and fishes than I do about having a profit driven organization.”
As the mission and vision of Sacred Waters was coming together, it quickly became clear that the openness and accountability of a non-profit were the only direction for us. I wanted to rule out the greed and compromises that too often come with profit-driven fishing clubs and companies.
In the second part of this introductory series I’ll tell more about how Sacred Waters is going to change up the model.
Since I began to fish in the days before memory and have no consciousness of ever not fishing, the evidence is clear that I was born a fisherman.
Our President Joseph Eichelberger, with 19 years of guiding experience and a long family heritage of responsible outdoorsmanship, brings a unique perspective to our blog as he promotes fishing conservation and education in Pagosa Springs, CO where he's lived since 2009.