21 Dec

Rusty Gates, 1955-2009

Posted by Dale G. Young (The Detroit News) on Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 9:14 AM

In journalism we call him a “source.” In truth he was “THE SOURCE. ” Rusty Gates, River Keeper of the Au Sable, was a source of information and story ideas for me, but he was a source for many others who are not journalists. At 54, Rusty lost his battle cancer last weekend, but will be remembered by thousands of outdoors men and women as a source of inspiration. Just as a river springs from it’s source, people gravitated to Rusty for inspiration before activism on the Au Sable River. He was the point-man in the fight to pioneer catch-and-release fishing on the river. He lead the battle against noise pollution on the North Branch of the AuSable, oil drilling on the South Branch, and toxic chemicals on the Main Branch. Many will simply remember him as a source of information in the fly shop: “What’s the best place to fish, and what to use?” …or “How do I get this thing fixed so I can go fishing this afternoon?” He knew everybody and everyplace on the river. Although not eager to get in front of the camera himself, he always knew of someone who was about to go do whatever I needed to photograph. I bummed hundreds of cups of coffee from him over the years, and he was always ready to drop what he was doing to help me. Rusty’s beloved Au Sable will continue to flow, thanks in part to his efforts over the years, but the river will seem a bit different now for many of us without “The Source.” In this picture, Rusty let me tag along with him as he fished the “Holy Waters” in early January of 2007 for a story about how unusually warm it was — so warm that people were fly fishing in Grayling.

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