March/April 2019

Dave Carlson Previews 2019 Conservation Work Day Projects and Financial Support

Oak Brook TU’s 2019 conservation activities include financial and volunteer support for projects in both Wisconsin and Michigan in support of Trout Unlimited’s mission of conserving, protecting and restoring coldwater fisheries and their watersheds in the Midwest.

Our conservation financial commitments this year include support for the Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE); Kickapoo River watershed stream restorations in Vernon County, Wisconsin; continued stream improvement work near Sparta, Wisconsin; and biological monitoring and survey work on the Coldwater and Dowagiac Rivers in Michigan.

Volunteer support is needed for our May 18 and October macroinvertebrate studies on the Coldwater River Watershed in Alto, Michigan outside of Grand Rapids and a June 22 stream improvement work day in Sparta.

“We plan to continue the important conservation work on our Chapter’s priority projects in support of the Wisconsin’s Driftless Area and Michigan’s Coldwater River watershed,” said Dave Carlson, Conservation Committee Chair.  “The Conservation Committee is also pursuing new opportunities ‘closer to home’, such as a DuPage River Cleanup Day on May 4 in Naperville, Illinois. Interested volunteers should contact Dave Carlson via email (

“Planned work days provide an opportunity for fun and friendship along with making a valuable contribution to stream conservation. As our projects are several hours from Chicago, we try to coordinate carpooling, lodging and fishing opportunities for interested members,” said Dave Carlson.

2019 Conservation Project Highlights
The Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE) is a long-term initiative to protect, restore and enhance cold water rivers in the Driftless Area of southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, and northwest Illinois. TUDARE relies greatly on the work and passion of TU volunteers. OBTU’s support includes money donated to directly support TUDARE general operations. For more information on TUDARE, read the interview with Duke Welter, who helped found the effort over 15 years ago.  For more information on TUDARE, read the interview with Duke Welter, TUDARE Coordinator, who helped founded the effort over 15 years ago.

Several creeks in the Kickapoo River watershed are scheduled for improvement work in 2019, including Warner Creek, Billings Creek, Tainter Creek and Weister Creek. Weister Creek is a great example of a stream restoration in the Driftless Area supported by OBTU. For the past several years, OBTU along with a wide range of other organizations have provided financial support for this project within the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. It is a multi-year project with a total length of 2.6 miles that, in addition to stream improvement, provides habitat for hunting and is a demonstration site for many nongame wildlife habitat practices. In-stream work on the final Phase 5 section is expected to be completed this summer. See the interview with project manager Paul Hayes for more information on the Weister Creek restoration plan which was originally published in the OBTU Flyer newsletter.

Other stream restoration projects in the Driftless Area encompass work to reduce soil erosion and phosphorus discharge near the city of Sparta. Since 2014, OBTU has provided both volunteer manpower and financial support that has been leveraged with local government funds. This year, stream restoration work will continue on Beaver Creek just north of Sparta. A half-day project planned in June will provide an opportunity to get together for some fishing in the heart of the Driftless Area before and after our work.

Conservation activities in Michigan will be focused on the Coldwater River watershed near Grand Rapids and the Dowagiac River near Niles. Two macroinvertebrate survey work days will be part of our ongoing cooperative effort with the Coldwater River Watershed Council (CRWC) that began 14 years ago. Members collect stream samples from designated sites, then count and classify the aquatic insects and various macroinvertebrates found. By classifying and trending the population data, the CRWC gets an idea of how stream health is evolving. This year, we will be expanding data collected at the Coldwater survey sites to include water temperature monitoring. Volunteers are encouraged to plan some fishing on the Coldwater River watershed or other rivers in the area such as the Rouge, Muskegon or Pere Marquette.  OBTU is represented on the Coldwater River Watershed Council by Marvin Strauch.

The Dowagiac River represents a relatively new stream restoration opportunity for OBTU. It is one of the closest rivers to our chapter with potential for a high-quality coldwater fishery. The planned removal of the Pucker Street Dam in Niles, Michigan appears to be on track for this summer. This will open up the entire river system to upstream migrations of steelhead, salmon, and other fish species. It will also expand opportunities for volunteers to help with watershed planning and habitat monitoring. Conservation efforts on the Dowagiac River are driven by MEANDRS (Meeting Ecological and Agricultural Needs within the Dowagiac River System), of which OBTU is a Board member. (See the interview with Marcy Hamilton, Senior Planner with the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, for more information on the Niles dam removal and Dowagiac River restoration plan which was originally published in the OBTU Flyer newsletter).

An exciting initiative closer to home is development of coldwater habitat and fishing access in the Illinois Driftless Area. TUDARE and its partners were awarded a large grant from the USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that includes areas not been served in the past, including part of northwest Illinois. The grant will provide funding for restoration projects for the period from 2019-2023. This funding will cover a significant share of individual project costs, with matching dollars—usually around 20-35% of the costs—provided by state or county agencies, foundations, businesses, individuals, TU and other conservation nonprofits. OBTU activities in 2019 will be focused on planning, bringing together local landowners and agency partners and identifying potential conservation projects. Plans include expanding a pilot project to monitor water temperatures in Coon Creek in Jo Davies County that was begun in 2018.

2019 Volunteers Needed
Volunteers are needed to make these 2019 commitments happen. The Conservation Committee is looking for members who are interested in leading or supporting an event. If you’d like to be on the Conservation Committee, email Dave Carlson at The Committee meets by phone conference calls each month, so location should not be an issue for ongoing participation.

The financial support of conservation efforts is made possible by the fundraising efforts of the chapter. Watch for additional information on fundraising activities in the OBTU May-June newsletter.

Wisconsin Driftless Area 2018 flood damage.




We will conclude our 2018-19 chapter meeting schedule with a “Spring Fling” open house on Wednesday, May 15, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the White Eagle Homeowners Clubhouse at 4265 White Eagle Drive in Naperville.

The organization’s Spring Fling event is free to its members, friends and general public and has something for everyone:

—  An evening of fellowship and networking with your TU colleagues.
—  Fishing information for Midwest locations for trout, steelhead, salmon and smallmouth bass.
—  Oak Brook TU membership-hosted weekend fishing trips.
—  Fly tying workshops for novice and experienced tiers.
—  Oak Brook TU information tables on conservation volunteer activities planned for the 2019 summer and fall seasons as well as youth education and advocacy programs.
—  Orvis and DuPage Fly Fishing representatives will on hand with their latest 2019 fishing gear and apparel.
—  Door prizes for all attendees from Orvis Yorktown, new L.L. Bean Oak Brook store, and DuPage Fly Fishing Co. store, plus a bucket raffle featuring fishing gear and other prizes.
— A free dinner featuring grilled bratwurst and hot dogs for attendees.

See the 2019 Spring Event Open House Flyer for more information and save the date today.

2019 Oak Brook Trout Unlimited Spring Fling Open House, May 15, 5-9 p.m.

President’s Letter

You may be wondering: “What has Oak Brook TU been doing lately?”   I am proud to say that our chapter continues to put “runs on the board.”  I’ve summarized recent OBTU accomplishments in my membership letter.  In the past year Oak Brook TU conservation efforts have contributed funding and/or work days to a number of significant projects including:

  • Weister Creek improvement project in the Wisconsin Driftless Area
  • Beaver Creek stream improvement in the Driftless area near Sparta, WI.
  • Funding of TUDARE (Driftless Area Restoration Effort)
  • Coldwater River Watershed semi-annual entomology surveys and stream improvement work        near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Water temperature monitoring in the Coldwater River and Coon Creek in northwest Illinois.
  • Stream survey work preparing for the Dowagiac River Pucker Street Dam removal in Niles, MI.
  • Funding earmarked for Great Lakes Coaster Brook Trout Restoration.

And closer to home, we recently “adopted” a Naperville section of the West DuPage River for a semi-annual stream clean-up.  Hopefully many of you will join us on Saturday, May 4, from 9am to 12 noon for our first clean-up followed by an informal lunch at a local restaurant.

Oak Brook TU continues to be at the forefront of providing youth education to help develop the next generation of coldwater conservation advocates through the following programs:

  • Our popular youth fly fishing classes are scheduled monthly on Saturdays from May through September. Thanks to our volunteers we have taught fly fishing basics to over 1,000 students over the past 15 years.
  • Our chapter has taken a lead role in establishing and growing the “Trout-in-the-Classroom” program which is now delivered to 28 schools in Illinois. Twelve of these schools are directly managed by our chapter.
  • Oak Brook TU continues to take a leadership role in the Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited’s Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp which takes place on Michigan’s Au Sable River each summer for 13 to 18 year-olds.

For adults, our chapter offers free adult education programs such as the Tuesday night fly rod casting instruction during the summer months and fall fly tying sessions at the Bolingbrook Bass Pro Shops store.

Our chapter also continues to advocate for coldwater conservation.  Most recently, we participated in meetings with two Illinois congressional offices regarding the Asian Carp Issue. We expect the Army Core of Engineers Plan for the Brandon Roads Project to be recommended to Congress in the near future.  Be on the lookout for opportunities to do some personal advocacy on this issue.

All of these good works would not be possible without strong support from many of our 1,200 members.  In recent years we have had fundraising success through our Spring Donation Solicitation, Fall Rod Raffle and December Holiday Party; these programs have kept our conservation and education programs strong.

Over the past year, our publicity and communications outreach efforts have resulted in major articles in both Chicago and national publications, and our relatively new website generated over 10,000 visits—a 27% increase over 2017.  And in November, we launched our Instagram account.  Make sure you are signed up for it along with our Facebook page to stay abreast of other chapter news!

Due to our strong membership and some very committed Board members, Oak Brook TU continues to thrive.

The key to our success as a Trout Unlimited chapter is volunteerism, and I encourage members to contact committee chairpersons for more information on areas of personal interest.  A list of all committee chairs is included in our OBTU website Leadership page.

Thank you for all that you do to “conserve, protect and restore North America’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds”.

Willie Beshire
President, Oak Brook Trout Unlimited Chapter
M: 630-200-2532


Member Profile: Meet Fred Hodge

By Jim Schmiedeskamp

This newsletter issue marks our second Oak Brook TU Chapter member profile, which is a way for our membership to get to know each other better.  This issue’s profile features Fred Hodge.

Fred Hodge has always been a “man in motion”—both on the ground, on the water and in the air. He can be found at most chapter youth education volunteer activities—and usually well-tanned thanks to his seasonal visits to a second home in Kauai, one of the more scenic Hawaiian islands.

Fred has enjoyed three primary passions throughout most of his 84 years: fly fishing and fly tying, being involved in the Boy Scouts of America, and aviation.

Fred’s aviation career started after being drafted and trained as an Air Force pilot where he flew single-engine jets, B-25 bombers and C-47 cargo planes.  His only “near death” experience occurred when an Air Force T-28 training airplane he was piloting blew up on take-off during his flight training school.  Fred moved onto a successful commercial airline career at United Airlines where he spent most of his time piloting DC-6s and 747s for over 30 years. After flying over 40 different Air Force and commercial aircraft, Fred retired as a professional pilot in 1994.  However, he continued flying as a volunteer pilot for another 25 years for the Medinah’s Aviators organization, which comprised pilots who flew Shrine Hospital children and their parents or guardians to a Shrine Hospital.  Fred’s flights took critically burned children from Chicago to a special Shrine hospital in Cincinnati.

Fred’s involvement in the Boy Scouts started as a youth and attained Eagle Scout status at age 17.  He continues to combine his passion for fly fishing education and the Boy Scouts by being a Fly Fishing Merit Badge Counselor and teacher at two annual Boy Scout summer camps in Minnesota and New Mexico in addition to the annual Illinois TU annual summer youth camp in Michigan.

Fred’s commitment to TU youth education was recognized in 2010 with its Youth Counselor Award at its annual celebration.

Fred is the father of three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Hometown:  East Lansing, Michigan
Current home: Oak Brook
How long as a TU member: 19 years as a “TU Life Member”
Introduction to fly fishing:  At age 12 trout fishing with his father on the Two Hearted River located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s short story on it.
Favorite fishing holes:  Michigan’s Au Sable River, the Kenai River in Alaska, and the Madison River in Montana.

Fred Hodge


2019 Illinois TU Youth Fly Fishing and Conservation Camp Seeking Applicants

The 12th annual edition of the Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing camp is scheduled July 21-26, 2019 at the RAM Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan.

The 2019 camp delivers a rigorous introduction to the sport of fly fishing on the famed Au Sable River in Michigan while also developing the next generation of cold water conservation advocates.  An experienced Trout Unlimited mentor team will conduct fly fishing instruction and guide twelve 13- to 18-year-old campers through prime time morning and evening trout fishing sessions on several sections of the Au Sable River.  Throughout the mid-day periods, field trips include an electro-shock survey of the local trout population, entomology surveys to capture and identify aquatic insect life, a stream improvement project to enhance trout habitat, a trout dissection with anatomy lesson, and explorations of the natural environment and its history.

“The camp is designed to be an intense experience that makes a significant impact on youth,” said Dan LaFave, Oak Brook Trout Unlimited board member and camp director.  “Campers will learn more about conservation and fly fishing in a week than many of us learn in a lifetime. It is an enjoyable and educational experience.”

The camp cost includes round-trip transportation from Chicago, lodging, meals and equipment.  The tuition fee is $575 (comprised of a $75 deposit at the time of application plus a $500 remaining balance due one month before camp).  Sponsorship is available for campers with financial need.  For detailed information, including an application, please visit the Youth Camp web page for more information and application.

2018 Illinois Trout Unlimited Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp Participants and Mentors

OBTU Among Top 5 Trout Unlimited Instagram Accounts in Followers

Since its launch last November, Oak Brook TU’s Instagram account has over 700 followers ranking #5 among TU’s 52 Instagram accounts according to Chris Pierson, who created and manages our photo sharing social media channel.

You can check out our new  Instagram account and follow it for fly fishing information from Oak Brook TU and news from other TU chapters, as well as our business partners and preferred guides, fly fishing gear companies and other conservation organizations.

Follow Oak Brook TU on Instagram for chapter and fly fishing news and great photos.

New Sponsor and Business Partners

Oak Brook TU is pleased to announce the addition of a new “Valued Sponsor” and two new “Business Partners.”

Rush Creek Distilling of Harvard, Illinois is our latest Valued Sponsor who is donating their craft-made whiskey, vodka and gin products in support of our 2019 fundraising programs. Rush Creek Distilling’s inspiration comes from founders and brothers Mark and Todd Stricker who proudly craft their distilled spirits with no shortcuts using nearby pure spring water, select local grains and uncompromising craftmanship.

Offering live music, craft cocktails, tastings and tours. You can get there by car en route to a Driftless Area fishing trip. Visit their website for more information.

Visit Rush Creek Distilling, in Harvard, Illinois for live music, craft cocktails, tastings and a tour.

Two New Business Partners

Trails & Tides is a downtown Naperville retail store featuring Southern Tide and Patagonia apparel and accessories for men, women, boys and girls. Visit their website for more information.

Sandhill Coffee debuts as another new business partner.  Founded by Phil Wingo, his vision is to provide a premium coffee that makes connections to others and the environment. As a proud member of 1% for the Planet, Sandhill Cofee will donate 1% of its yearly revenue to an environmental non-profit.  It is currently available at Casey’s Foods and DuPage Fly Fishing in Naperville, and Gene’s Sausage and Deli in Chicago.

Learn more about their small batch sustainable specialty coffees by visiting the Sandhill Coffee website.

Sandhill Coffee is a premium specialty coffee available at Casey’s Foods and DuPage Fly Fishing in Naperville, and Gene’s Sausage and Deli in Chicago.

 Librarian’s Corner

By Phil Young
Providence (Confluence Films) 70m / DVD
In 2003, two South Africans began a fly fishing guide service and searched for fishing sites along the east coast of Africa. They found a relatively untouched fishery in the Seychelles Islands and soon wondered how they were going to handle their increasing number of clients. Then in 2009, Somali pirates invaded the area and the local government closed the area to tourism and fishing. This DVD is the story of what they found when the area was opened in 2015 and they returned to the flats of the Seychelles. Providence is an exciting fly fishing adventure story that is so beautifully filmed that my wife sat with me and watched it from beginning to end. You will enjoy it too.
This DVD, as well as others in the chapter’s library, are available for check out at chapter meetings. If you are holding any of the chapter’s other videos, please return them when you are finished so that others may view them.
Providence (Confluence Films) 70m / DVD now available throught the Oak Brook TU chapter library.

Award-winning Wildlife Photography Exhibits on Display in Chicago

The Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park is showcasing Thomas Mangelsen’s award-winning wildlife photography through June 2. Named “A Life in the Wild,” the noted wildlife photographer’s work will features 40 large-scale prints. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for seniors. For more information visit the museum’s website  for hours and additional information.

The Field Museum is now featuring a “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” exhibit through January 12, 2020. The exhibit–with over 100 mostly large images–was produced by the Natural History Museum in London. Started in 1965, this is the longest-running nature photography competition in the world and involved 45,000 submissions from 95 countries. Visit the Field Museum’s website for hours and additional information.

The Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park is showcasing Thomas Mangelsen’s award-winning wildlife photography through June 2.



Labrador Also a Home to Trophy Pike

At the April 17 membership meeting, speaker Carl Hueter his shared his success catching trophy brook trout in Labrador, Canada’s most eastern province.
He also described the abundance of large northern pike in the region’s many lakes that connect the streams and rivers where brook trout reside. For more information on Labrador’s trophy northern pike, see the DUN Magazine 2018 Fall issue story.

DUN Magazine is currently offering one-year subscriptions for $40.00 which is 50% off their newsstand price.

Learn about Labrador trophy pike in an online story published by DUN Magazine.

“Our Planet” Debuts New Series on Netflix

Sir David Attenborough narrates this new eight-part series that explores the unique wonders of the natural world. Produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, “Out Planet” uses a combination of stunning photography and technology to present Earth’s remaining wilderness areas and their animal inhabitants.
The project took four years to complete, with more than 600 crew members filming in 50 countries across the world to showcase the diversity that exists among habitats, from the remote Arctic wilderness to the jungles of South America.
The series made its debut April 5.  For a special preview and one month free membership, visit the Netflix “Our Planet” page.