This time of year makes one yearn even more for the days when the water starts to warm and the fish begin to feed more aggressively. Hopefully with the lengthening days we will not be far away. However, lack of time on the water has given me a chance to do spend some time on other things. Recently taking on the President role in the Club, I have felt it important to reach out to some of our long-time members and get their perspectives on the Club today, but also get a better understanding of the Club's history and the challenges we've faced together in the past. I look forward to continuing these discussions and welcome input and feedback from all our members - new and old. I'd like to specifically thank Mike Snead for providing me with his insights, but more so for helping to connect me with an important person in the SMSC's history - Rex Smith. Thanks to Mike, I had the opportunity a few weeks back to enjoy lunch with Mike & Rex (thanks again for picking up the tab Mike!) and get a crash course on a lot of the history of the Club. Some of this I already knew - a lot I did not. What proved even more valuable was Rex loaning me 20+ years of SMSC Newsletters - talk about an incredible resource and snapshot into the Club's history! I've had a chance to work my way through a lot of those old newsletters - and there is a treasure trove of information buried in there - years of fishing tips / articles - but more importantly it captures the reasons why the Club was originally founded and the challenges we faced along the way as it focused on our core values of preservation & care of the striper fishery.
It also reminded me that, as they say, "It's a small world" - I ran across pictures & contributed articles from someone which I have come to know & respect from y interactions on a striper-related discussion forum - Ezell Cox - an accomplished striper fisherman & guide on TN. Seeing his contributions and reading of the cooperation which the SMSC & TSBA had on common issues facing our respective fisheries was refreshing - and reminds me that while we focus on SML, we have friends and supporters outside our waters - and hopefully they have supporters in us as well.
As I mentioned in the last newsletter and at our Club meetings, a primary focus from the Board and myself in 2015 is surrounding membership - and working to ensure that the Club is something that has value for our existing and potential members. Your feedback is critical to this effort. In order to help gather feedback, we are going to be distributing a survey touching on a variety of areas of the Club, and I ask that you take a few minutes to provide your valuable input. Feel free to add any additional thoughts or concerns which you desire - this survey will be anonymous so make your thoughts and concerns heard - the Club's leadership cannot address issues or concerns if we are not aware of them. Let's work together to continue to build the best Club possible to ensure we remain a relevant voice when it comes to the protection of our fishery.
Fish On! - Mike Ward