For nearly 20 years, Lee Spencer is overlooking this pool filled with Steelhead, protecting it from poachers. A life dedicated to the fish.

The first time I heard about “that guy who lived in a tent by a pool in North Umpqua” as from my friends the brothers Gaillard who lived in San Francisco and went “up” fishing for Steelhead severla times a year. I was a kid, fishing tiny trout in my village river, and it sounded like heaven!

The stroy of that guywho quiteverything to protect Steelhead was something else. I didn’t, at the time, realized like almost everyone, tht fish needed to be protected, that wild life was not “forever” and that we were poachers, even if on my end I ws catching 10 or 15 trout a day all smaller than a foot and I was bringing them back home! Noon ever heard about Catch & Release and fish protection, at least where I was from, we all thought that wild life was “forever”. Time taugh tme.

Today I found this film and I cannot think about how stupid, greedy and also naive we were. Lee Spencer had been overlooking this pool for 19 years, he started living in a tent, now he lives in an RV, he is 70 and has Parkinson. Those are his last years as a watchman for this pool, a Refuge for Steelhead going up and down the Umpqua. Twenty years giving everything to the river, to its fish, welcoming fly fishers, teaching tourists. A whole life on it’s own.

Patagonia pays him a tribute in Damnation. But you can also buy his book A Temporary Refuge.

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Refuge from Katie Falkenberg