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> > Rusty Gates Passes over this weekend.

OldredbarnDecember 20th, 2009, 10:09 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
Rusty Gates president of the Anglers of the Au Sable has lost his battle with lung cancer. and click fishing report.

I have known Rusty for 20+ years and have been lucky enough to share a beat with him on his beloved South Branch of the Au Sable which he fought so hard to protect.

Things, somehow, just won't be the same on the "Holy Water"!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
SofthackleDecember 20th, 2009, 11:58 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Sorry to hear this, Spence. I've lost a lot of fishing friends over the years, and while they are not here, physically, they remain with me wherever I go, especially when I fish places we fished together.

Stay well,
"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
OldredbarnDecember 20th, 2009, 5:07 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

Thanks for your thoughts. The Anglers of the Au Sable was formed back in 1986 due to a desire to bring Catch-and-Release to the river. It was pretty controversial back then but the Anglers prevailed and the Holy Water on the Mainstream and a stretch of river in the Mason Tract on the South Branch came in to being. Rusty has been the president from day one and the dining room where the founders met was just upstream from the Barbless Hook, George Griffiths place where Trout Unlimited was formed in 1959.

Just as an aside Mr. Lively was a board member of the Anglers and is still listed as "Emeritus"...

Us oldtimers have a problem normally with change. Not having Rusty navigating the ship at the Lodge will be extrodinarily difficult for a great many of us that call that place our second home. He would want us to move on and get busy with making sure all is well with the river...But we will miss him big time...

Thanks again!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123December 20th, 2009, 6:08 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2611
Spence, my condolences. My folks are starting to lose friends now at their age (late 70s). I have been lucky as all of my family and best friends are still around. Although it has been at times a huge pain, living with family for the past year has kept us all close. Again, my sympathies for losing a friend so close to the holidays.

Would it cheer you up any to know that I caught a 12-13" brownie today while steelhead fishing at Yates? Took a new fly I tied a few weeks ago I call "the Jingle Bells" - four (count 'em, FOUR) sets of gold and silver beadchain tied in sequence to the shank, with green and red marabou in the tail and the same colors palmer hackled & counter-wrapped with gold tinsel. It looked like a Christmas tree ornament - that is until I lost it. Another sacrifice to the Fish Gods (along with a black & chartreuse Egg-sucking Leech that a tree ate)...Back to the tying bench!

Let's hit the ice here sometime once it's safe. We can toast Rusty with the cocktail of your choice.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
OldredbarnDecember 21st, 2009, 8:13 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
Sorry to belabor this, but this is a wonderful obit for Rusty...


Rusty Gates Dies
By Marshall Cutchin on December 20, 2009 7:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Rusty Gates Jr., who had a profound and permanent effect on fly fishing conservation efforts, particularly on his beloved Au Sable River, died yesterday at the age of 54 after a long battle with lung cancer.

"Rusty Gates was a brave, smart, tireless champion of wild trout and the beautiful, magic places they abide. He lead by example; and he has touched and inspired us all," said Ted Williams, noted Conservation Editor for Fly Rod and Reel.

Read the full news release and tribute from Gates Lodge in the extended entry.


GRAYLING, MICHIGAN -- Celebrated conservationist and fly-fisherman Calvin "Rusty" Gates Jr. died on December 19, 2009 at his home on the banks of the Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 54 years old. Gates served as president of the Anglers of the Au Sable from its inception in 1987 until 2009. During this time he and his organization won several landmark legal cases in coldwater conservation.

"Rusty was a true treasure," said Rebecca Humphries, Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "He loved the Holy Waters of the Au Sable and shared that love with countless individuals. He taught us that it is our duty to respect the resource and to protect it. His love of the river lives on in all of us. I have been truly blessed to know Rusty."

Gates was the proprietor of Gates Au Sable Lodge, and an iconic fly-fishing personality. Rusty's father Cal Gates Sr. moved his family to Grayling in 1970 and, along with his wife Mary, purchased the lodge on the banks of the Au Sable River. Cal Sr. had taught high school music, and Rusty played trombone in high school. But soon his passion for fly-fishing occupied most of his time. He began tying flies professionally at the age of 17, as well as guiding. At first Gates' flies were sold in the corner of the restaurant at the lodge, but soon demand was great enough that the Gates family added a full-service fly-shop to the lodge. Eventually Rusty bought the lodge and operated it with his wife Julie, who ran the restaurant.

"Of all the strong conservationists in our world, Rusty was one of the toughest. He was tireless, and he was like a missile in his precision and deadly accuracy. Yet he never, ever, wanted credit for anything--just for the various groups he worked with, especially the Anglers of the Au Sable," said Tom Rosenbauer, winner of the 2001 National Outdoor Book Award, and Marketing Director for the Orvis Company.

Gates Lodge is a place where thousands of anglers gather annually during fly fishing season from April through autumn. Rusty and Julie could be found there at all hours, tending to the smallest details of fly tying and gourmet cooking. With classical music playing in the background, the fly shop buzzed with patrons' latest stories from the nearby woods and waters. Coffee flowed freely as anglers bent over the dozens of boxes of flies, hoping to pick correctly for the day ahead. Rusty Gates presided over the daily scene with eagle eyes, a wry grin, and measured words. Fishing tips from this master were earned, not purchased. This tradition, while changed forever by Rusty's passing, will continue in 2010 as Gates Lodge remains in business under the leadership of fly shop manager Josh Greenberg, who has worked for Rusty for the last 15 years.

"Rusty proved that people don't fill their gas tank to fill their fry pan. They put on their waders to nourish their soul. Rusty did that for all of us, and our great-great-great grandkids. Sure, they won't know it, but when one of them flips an Adams, or a Trico, over a rising brown in 2109 it will have Rusty's name etched on it," said Glen Sheppard, author/editor of the conservation newspaper The North Woods Call.

The quiet, unassuming Gates' soon gained recognition for his expertise in fly-fishing, as well as his honesty and willingness to defend the resource. He developed a number of fly-patterns that became standard Au Sable fly patterns, introduced scores of people to the world of fly-fishing, and began to combine angling and conservation in such a way as to involve himself in some of the most influential coldwater issues in Michigan. In 1995 he was awarded the coveted Fly Rod and Reel Magazine "Angler of the Year" award for his conservation and cultural contributions to the sport of fly-fishing.

"Rusty Gates was a brave, smart, tireless champion of wild trout and the beautiful, magic places they abide. He lead by example; and he has touched and inspired us all," said Ted Williams, noted Conservation Editor for Fly Rod and Reel.

In a legal case that would define his commitment to the Au Sable River, in 2003 Gates, as President of the Anglers of the Au Sable, challenged a US Forest Service lease that would allow exploratory drilling for gas below the famed Mason Tract section of the South Branch of the Au Sable. With the odds stacked against them, the Anglers prevailed in their case against the Forest Service, forever altering how the business of gas and oil exploration would be conducted in the fragile areas of Michigan.

"While Rusty will mainly be remembered for his role in protecting the Au Sable, he changed forever the way we look at and work to protect our water resources and wildlife. We owe it to Rusty to carry on his work and make sure children in every generation to come will be able to share the wonder and joy in Michigan's wild places that are his legacy," said Michigan Sierra Club President Anne Woiwode.

Calvin "Rusty" Gates, Jr. will be missed by the many who knew him. He was an intensely private man who could, when needed, organize hundreds of people around a cause. Considered by many as one of the most talented fundraisers and recruiters they'd ever met, Rusty will be remembered for his uninhibited love for the river and the river valley, and his steadfastness in doing what he and many others considered right and necessary for the resource. He is survived by his wife Julie, their children, and a large extended family.

Arrangements have not yet been made.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
StuDecember 25th, 2009, 3:51 pm
Posts: 1There will never be another Rusty Gates.He was the very best.I have known him for 25 years.
"See ya,Rusty"

Stu Duffield

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