What Did Headwaters TU Do?

If you’re a member of the Headwaters Chapter of TU, I hope this list makes you proud of that membership.  If you’ve let your membership lapse, I hope this list convinces you to give TU another try.  Your membership and support mean everything to us.

If you’ve never been a member, you can join for a special rate of $17.50 for the first year by going to this link and choosing the Headwaters Chapter in Michigan, #315.  The new member special isn’t only cool cause you save half off the normal rate, its also cool because $15 of that comes directly back to our local chapter.  That’s $15 we’ll be able to put towards next year’s list- which is already being planned.



  1. We purchased and helped install 5 new temperature loggers to collect river temperature data for the DNR Fisheries Division.
  2. In an effort to improve angler access to the Pigeon River, HTU participated in the High Country Pathway trail maintenance event with Friends of the PRC.
  3. Improved a public boat launch site on the Sturgeon River to repair and prevent erosion.
  4. We conducted and participated in four different river cleanup projects. The rivers we cleaned up were the Sturgeon, Black, Pigeon and Ausable rivers.
  5. We participated in two stream assessments with our fisheries biologists.
  6. We conducted redd counts on the Sturgeon River. Redd counts are counting the number of trout beds after the trout spawn.
  7. We sampled aquatic invertebrates on the Black River.
  8. HTU funded $2,900 for habitat improvement on the Jordan River by removing beaver dams in an effort to improve fish passage throughout the river system.

Education & Administration

  1. HTU Reinstated its 501(c)3 status with the IRS following lapse in IRS Form 990 reporting dating back to 2012
  2. HTU strengthened our financial protections for our chapter funds.
  3. HTU doubled the amount of the Headwaters college scholarship at Lake Superior State University.
  4. We donated the funds for a youth to attend the TU Trout Camp.

Communication, Outreach, Activities, Etc.

  1. We conducted 3 Tie One On Events to teach new people the art of fly tying.
  2. HTU co-sponsored Pint Night event in Alpena with Ruffed Grouse Society and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
  3. The chapter supported the Fly Fishing Film Festival with Boyne Outfitters.
  4. We sponsored membership drives at all events in an effort to recruit new members.
  5. A new strategy was adopted to recruit new members and retain present and past members.
  6. All Board of Directors reached out to our membership through a phone survey to ask them what they would like to see out of our chapter and how else we can engage our members.
  7. HTU held its annual Opening Day Breakfast Outreach Event.
  8. We volunteered at the Midnight Derby fishing event at Gates Ausable Lodge.
  9. In the fall we held a Pint Night event in Gaylord with Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.


Conservation Events

1.) Beaver trapping on upper Black in preparation for beaver dam removals between Saunders and Tyrolean.
2.) Removed abandoned, rusted out row boat from Upper Black upstream of old Saunders dam.
3.) Two death march habitat assessment surveys on Upper Black following beaver trapping efforts. One from Sparr Rd to Saunders Dam, another from Saunders Dam to Tyrolean.
4.) Removed 6 beaver dams on the Upper Black in partnership with the Paul Young Chapter of TU
5.) Removed 1 additional beaver dam between sparr rd and Tyrolean on the Upper Black
6.) Lobbied for and convinced Upper Black River Council to install LWD between Saunders and Tyrolean in 2019 following Tin Shanty Bridge LWD project
7.) Granted the Upper Black River Council $7,500 for LWD project up and downstream from Tin Shanty Bridge Rd.
8.) Participated in the Sturgeon River Sweepers annual spring cleanup on the Sturgeon River
9.) Two macroinvertebrate sampling workshops on the Upper Black and East Branch of the Black. One each in the Spring and Fall, followed by macroinvertebrate identification at NCMC.
10.) Inventoried Chapter cedar plantings on Deward Tract of Upper Manistee. Maintenance was performed where needed and new cedars were planted where applicable.
11.) Beaver dam removal on Rattlesnake Creek in partnership with the MIDNR
12.) Installed No ORV signs throughout the Pigeon River Country State Forest
13.) Installed and removed temperature loggers on the Pigeon River
14.) Installed and removed temperature loggers on the Upper Black River
15.) Assisted with fin clipping of 48,000 brown trout on lower Au Sable.
16.) Redd survey on the Pigeon River
17.) Assisted the MIDNR in stocking trout on the sinkhole lakes in the Pigeon River Country
18.) Constructed a new access on the Sturgeon River at Cornwell Grade Rd
19.) Constructed a new access on the Sturgeon River at North Trowbridge in partnership with the Vanguard Chapter of Trout Unlimited
20.) Participated in the Northern Michigan Watershed Summit
21.) Cleaned a stretch of the South Branch of the Au Sable in support of the Anglers of the Au Sable’s annual river cleanup
22.) Participated in a work group composed of multiple area conservation organizations to diagnose and address concerns with trout populations on the North Branch of the Au Sable.

Education & Outreach Events

1.) Held six Tie One Ons, teaching how to tie flies. A featured speaker spoke at each on a range of topics from Backpacking, Local angling opportunities, acquiring your own fly tying materials and using the internet to improve your angling success
2.) Held two indoor casting clinics at the Otsego County Community Center, featuring guest speakers from Old AuSable Fly Shop and Scientific Anglers
3.) Held one outdoor casting clinic on the Sturgeon River
4.) Sent 17 email newsletters keeping chapter members and supporters up to date on chapter activities and events. Also posted regularly on Chapter Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook group.
5.) Chapter Christmas Party at Gates Au Sable Lodge
6.) Partnered with the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers for a “Pint Night” at Snowbelt Brewing in Gaylord.
7.) Funded and Constructed two exhibits at the Pigeon River Country Discovery Center
8.) Held 2nd Annual Breakfast at the Tubes on the opening day of trout season where chapter board members cooked a pancake breakfast for anyone out and about in the Pigeon River Country.
9.) Annual Field trip to Midwest Fly Fishing Expo
10.) Taught fly tying workshop at Hartwick Pines State Park


1.) Granted the Upper Black River Council $7,500
2.) Identified, reported, audited, prosecuted and recovered $37k embezzled by previous Chapter Treasurer
3.) Two strategic planning meetings


1.) Held 40th Annual Spring Banquet, raising close to $40k, the second most successful banquet in chapter history behind 2017.
2.) Midnight Derby at Gates Au Sable Lodge



  1. )  We purchased a wide array of landscaping tools for chapter use on various conservation projects. We’ve got all sorts of stuff like shovels and come-alongs and broadcast spreaders and axes, and even a chapter reciprocating saw.
  2. We inventoried beaver dam locations on a double secret tributary of the Sturgeon River for the MIDNR
  3. We stocked trout at several of the “sinkhole” lakes in the Pigeon River Country State Forest
  4. We inventoried beaver dam locations on the Upper Black River
  5. We provided the Upper Black River Council with a grant for $2,500 for habitat improvements on the Black River which is in our service area
  6. We connected the Upper Black River Council with a local trapper to target problem beaver populations
  7. We hung signs educating anglers on the dangers of New Zealand Mud Snails on the Sturgeon, Pigeon, and Black Rivers.
  8. We partnered with the “Sturgeon River Sweepers” to help them out with their annual Spring Cleanup on the Sturgeon River.  They were blown away by the number of people we brought to help and said they had never had that many people there to help.  In fact, they had never had enough people to clean more than one section of river.  This year, we had enough people to do pretty much the entire lower river.  We took a ridiculous amount of trash out and are working to help them keep the river looking its best for many years to come.
  9. We partnered with the MIDNR and the Parks and Rec division to inventory erosion sites on the Sturgeon River which were eroding due to angler and/or canoe-kayak accessing the river at those points.  Measurements were taken of 11 sites and permits are being applied for so work can begin in 2018 to build structures at each so anglers and recreational watercraft users can easier access the river without creating erosion issues.
  10. We partnered with the Paul Young Chapter of TU who were up north from the Detroit area on a chapter retreat.  They helped us restore access to the Cornwall Grade Rd site on the Sturgeon River which had grown over, over the years, with heavy brush.  In addition to creating better access to the river at this location, the goal was also to help reduce erosion at a site on the same stretch anglers were using because the original one had grown over.  After, volunteers from Headwaters met up with the Paul Young guys at Wa Wa Sum on the Au Sable for dinner, and went fishing together afterwards.  We hope to continue this partnership long into the future.
  11. After a sand trap was emptied on the East Branch of the Black River, Headwaters volunteers graded the area and replanted native grasses in partnership with the Upper Black River Council.
  12. We donated native grass seed and straw to the MIDNR’s Pellston field office for use at a conservation project site on the Maple River.
  13. We removed a stove from the Sturgeon River.  This stove had been there for over 50 years in a very remote, backcountry location.  It weighed over 400lbs!  Due to its size and the remoteness of the stove’s location, this actually took a lot of planning and we were only able to make it happen through a partnership with the MIDNR and help from a Huron Pines Pigeon River Country Americorps member.
  14. In partnership with the Anglers of the Au Sable and Cedars for the Au Sable, Headwaters volunteers planted 50 cedars on the banks of the Deward Tract on the Upper Manistee River.
  15. We sent a member of our conservation committee to macroinvertebrate sampling training with Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.  That board member will lead macroinvertebrate sampling on the Black River, beginning in 2018, which currently has no sampling being done.
  16. We led the charge to keep ORV’s out of the Deward Tract.  At a NRC meeting held a week and a half after we put the action alert out, several high ranking members of the DNR commented that they had received between 50 and 75 public comments opposing ORV use specifically on the Deward Tract.
  17. Headwaters volunteers cleaned a stretch of the South Branch in support of the Anglers of the Au Sable for their annual river cleanup.
  18. We wrote a letter of support for the MIDNR’s potential purchase of the Storey Lake property adjacent to the Pigeon River Country State Forest, which is also home to a 2nd order trout stream
  19. We are repairing the bottom stair at a heavily used campground access on the Black River
  1. We hosted Ned Caveney, former Pigeon River Country State Forest Manager, in partnership with the Mason Griffith Founders Chapter and Anglers of the Au Sable, at Gates Au Sable Lodge for a free presentation on fishing for Taimen in Mongolia
  2. We held 9 Tie One On events which were open to the public and free for anyone to attend.  Each meeting, we taught attendees how to tie one or two fly patterns that work well on our local waters.  All fly tying tools and materials for these were provided by Headwaters TU.  At each event, chapter news and updates were shared before a featured speaker spoke.  Attendance grew at each event and we were able to use these meetings to recruit volunteers for conservation projects down the road, as well as chapter committee chairs and future board members.  Speakers included:
    1. Erick Johnson of Scientific Anglers, who presented on how fly lines are made
    2. Andy Partlo of Old Au Sable Fly Shop who presented on using non-conventional materials for fly tying
    3. Josh Greenberg of Gates Au Sable Lodge, who presented on fising the Au Sable River in the Spring
    4.  Tim Riley, fly fishing guide, presented on the history of Au Sable Riverboats
    5. Tim Cwalinksi, Fisheries Biologist with the MIDNR, presented on the state of trout streams in the Headwaters TU service area
    6. John Sheets, commercial fly tyer, presented on how to tie two of his signature fly patterns.
    7. Ray Schmidt, formerly of Schmidt Outfitters and co-owner of SS Outdoors, presented on how fly rods are made
    8. Bob Slezak, of Headwaters TU, presented on fly fishing for brownt trout in New Zealand
    9. Ann Miller, author of “Hatch Guide to Upper Midwest Trout Streams,” presented on mayfly identification
  3. We sent our new board members and officers to a Board Basics Workshop, provided by Huron Pines, where they learned how to be effective board members.
  4. We refurbished our chapter’s fly rods with new lines and reels where needed, and now have 15 fly rods for use at local educational and casting clinics.
  5. We refurbished our chapter’s fly tying equipment inventory and now have 25 fly tying kits ready to go for educational fly tying events.
  6. We sent Alex Cerveniak down to teach a fly tying class at the Mason Griffith Founders Chapter’s Tie One On series.
  7. We had a women’s fly casting clinic in Indian River, MI
  8. We heard they were doing a used shirt drive and collected 42 used fishing shirts to donate to Reeling & Healing Midwest, for them give to their participants to wear at their fishing programs and outings.
  9. We held a Youth Trout Fishing Workshop for the entire 6th grade class at Inland Lakes Public Schools (~45 kids).  We broke them up into groups and taught modules on: fly casting, fishing rules and regulations and conservation, fly tying, and knot tying.  That was followed up with lunch where they got a special lunch of baked salmon.  After lunch, the kids were surprised with gifts from Headwaters TU, who sent every one of them home with a new fishing pole/tackle box combo that we purchased from Jay’s Sporting Goods.  This was picked up on and aired on the Traverse City evening news.
  10. Once the Discovery Center was given the green light, we funded and our volunteers are in the process of constructing two exhibits which will educate the general public on the history, management, challenges and opportunities, and area coldwater trout stream conservation for years to come.
  11. We taught a fly tying workshop at Hartwick Pines State Park
Communication, Outreach, Activities, Etc.
  1. Created Headwaters TU Facebook Group for chapter members and interested parties to communicate with each other and learn about chapter activities, current events related to the outdoors and coldwater conservation.  Headwaters TU has used this channel to communicate with members on a daily basis throughout the year- close to 1,000 posts made this year alone
  2. We sent 21 chapter email newsletters through the year, communicating on chapter events, conservation projects, action alerts, and news.
  3. We had a chapter field trip to the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo where interested members got together to carpool down to the expo and hang out for the day.
  4. We hosted two trout camps for chapter leaders and volunteers to “team build.”  One on the opening weekend of trout season, the other during the closing weekend of trout season.  We hosted a third team building event for chapter leaders and volunteers where we shot skeet together at a local gravel pit.
  5. We had two chapter members win annual awards with the Michigan State Council of Trout Unlimited, John Walters received the Order of the Caddis award, and Carol Rose received the Order of the Hexagenia award.
  6. We created a chapter budget and a chapter strategic plan to guide chapter spending, to align spending with chapter goals, and to give us an idea of where we needed to be with fundraising goals.
  7. We created a Conservation Committee to plan and guide chapter conservation projects
  8. We created a Membership Committee Chair position to monitor chapter membership.  The volunteer we found for this position is doing a fantastic job and has long term goals to grow chapter membership and retain current members and do more to reach out to new and current members.  The draft plan will be presented at the January ’18 General Membership meeting and voted on by the board of directors.
  9. We joined the Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce so we could network with local business owners
  10. We wrote a letter of support for the Pigeon River Country State Forest Discovery Center.
  11. We held the first annual, “Breakfast at the Tubes,” on the opening morning of Trout Season.  This was a general membership event where the chapter board of directors and officers cooked members a pancake breakfast on the banks of the Pigeon River, free for anyone to attend.  We also had several fly rods strung up for anyone who wanted to learn how to fly cast or get help with any casting problems they might need some help on.  Attendance was good and we plan to continue this new tradition in 2018.
  12. We had a Headwaters TU booth at Gaylord, MI’s annual Alpenfest carnival where we tied flies and talked with passers-by about fishing and what TU is all about.
  13. We were on the local radio over 20 times talking about chapter activities and current events related to trout fishing
  14. We delivered baskets of baked goods to our local MIDNR field office and the Huron Pines headquarters to thank them for everything they’ve done to help conserve coldwater fisheries in our area.
  15. We sponsored the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative’s education workshop
  16. We’re hosting our annual chapter Christmas party at Gates Au Sable Lodge for chapter members and supporters.
  1. We had our 39th Annual Spring Banquet.  ~225 people attended, and we had our chapter’s most successful night of fundraising ever, raising just shy of $50,000, gross.
  2. Two bake sale fundraisers
  3. We had our annual, “Midnight Derby,” fundraiser in partnership with Gates Au Sable Lodge to raise funds for the access site erosion improvements on the Sturgeon River, and raised just over $2,000, which will cover all of the permit costs and some of the building material costs.