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27 Dec

Rusty Gates, More Remembrances

By Terry Drinkwine, Macomb Daily Sports Columnist

Trout fishermen throughout the state suffered a loss that will be felt for some time to come. Rusty Gates, owner of Gates’ Au Sable Lodge, passed away Dec. 19.

Rusty was possibly the most passionate fly fisherman since George Mason and George Griffith joined forces to establish Trout Unlimited. He was respected throughout the state and had the reputation and charisma that allowed him to pick up his phone and call politicians, corporate executives and anyone that he thought could help in preserving his beloved Au Sable. No one was out of his reach when his river was in jeopardy.

Rusty was instrumental in curtailing noise pollution along the North Branch from the National Guard, mining along the South Branch, chemical pollution along the big water section and of course the fight over what went into Kolka Creek. His influence can be seen in debris enhancement for insect habitat, improving fish structure and much more along the waters of the Au Sable. Rusty put his heart into his book, “Seasons on the Au Sable,” and donated the proceeds to be used for legal costs to fight pollution along the Au Sable Watershed.

There will undoubtedly be monuments of one type or another dedicated to Rusty Gates, but I’ll remember his bearded face and impish smirk whenever I walk into the fly shop at Gates’ Au Sable Lodge that Rusty inherited from Cal Gates many years ago. His cabins and dining room were always hospitable and a welcome end to a day of fishing. His website www.gateslodge.com is a plethora of information about river and hatch conditions and also contains a lost and found page where anglers can post related items. I especially remember the posting of a wedding band found by a canoe launch. (That one could go either way.)

Life is a series of lessons; the trick is to learn from them, even the disappointments. We’ve all been used to having someone else do things for us, things we take for granted. When that someone is no longer around to do them, we either step up and do them or leave them undone. Not carrying on the work Gates began is unthinkable. It’s worse than unthinkable; it’s the beginning of the end to pristine waters and a healthy trout population.

The next time we step into the Au Sable, its water so clear you can see the rocks and pebbles under your feet, let’s remember there were forces that had to be checked to keep it that way. Greed being the root cause of most of our undoing, our rivers and their tributaries have been under attack and will be again. The trick is to identify the forces that threaten them, yell for all to hear and be willing to fight them in any arena necessary. Rusty Gates showed us how, now it’s up to us.

Rusty Gates lost his battle with a harsh debilitating decease, but throughout his ordeal he remained in touch with the goings-on of the world he loved. Anglers of the Au Sable and other organizations he supported will carry on, but with a heavy heart.

Rusty Gates will be missed.

rusty_gates

December 22, 2009

Our Deepest sympathies to Julie, Misty, and the Gates family. Rusty will be genuinely missed by all who frequented the lodge, love the sport, and understand what the Ausable River is to passionate anglers. I cannot help but think that the “Ausable River Keeper” will be on the banks watching over his beloved river, just from above, instead of beside it! Thirty years later, I still feel the same excitement as my first fly fishing trip to Gates Ausable Lodge. Rusty, rest well my friend, until we see you again, likely on the banks, fly rod in hand! Gods speed.

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December 22, 2009

Gena –
I’m so sorry to hear about your loss; I hope memories are a comfort to you.
Take care.

December 22, 2009

I am so sorry to hear about Rusty, I met him only once and that was during my first visit to the Reeling and Healing retreat that was held at your beautiful and serene lodge. It was the first place I had been too where I really felt at peace and fairly normal again after my cancer. He was a very kind and loving man. He will forever be in my memories and you and your family will be in my prayers.

December 22, 2009

So sorry for your (our)loss. Although I never met Rusty I have enjoyed dining at the Lodge many times since we purchased our riverfront Blue House just below the Ole Dam. My best friend was dying of Myeloma and I asked to get an ‘Autographed’ copy of Rustys book for my friend which he did without hesitation. God Bless you all and Thank you to the entire family for looking after ‘our’ river.

December 22, 2009

Our condolences to your family. Mr. Gates was truly a hero to those of us who fish the AuSable. May your family take comfort in knowing he touched many of us with his conservation first ideals. He will be missed by all of us. With great affection and admiration. The Kellys

 

December 22, 2009

When introduced to fly fishing by my mentor (Boyd Redner), he insisted that we stay at Gates Lodge. It was a great choice. I met Rusty and began to understand his love affair with the Holy Water. We spent many enjoyable hours there. Rusty will be missed by all Au Sable anglers. My sincerest sympathy to Julie and the rest of the family.

December 22, 2009

Our family is so sorry to hear of your loss. Like so many Michigan trout anglers my sons and I made pilgrimages annually–if possible–to the Au Sable and Gates’ Lodge. I can’t imagine visiting the Au Sable, much less fishing it without a visit to the shop and checking in with Rusty. Losing him is a real blow to Michigan conservation, although I am sure he will continue to inspire all of us who care about Michigan’s waters to work harder.

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December 22, 2009

I am deeply sorry for your loss of Rusty. I knew Rusty because I had the privilege of working with him and representing the Anglers in a courtroom. This morning the heavy feeling came to me, overwhelmingly, that the loss of Rusty cannot be filled – not that the loss of anyone that touches another can be filled – because Rusy’s presence was (is) so large. He stood for values beyond himself, rergardless of what it meant to him personally. But then I realized how the force of his clarity and leadership permeated the court room, an unspoken formidable presence that raised the value of a creek and a river against the expediencey of progress. Rusty knew this expediency was an illusion against the truth of the river, and it made it easier for the rest of us to do what we had to do. And, tonight, I wonder if the presence of people like Rusty never parishes, but shines as a beacon for the rest of us to keep going.

As a National Guardsman, from 1965 to 1971 I spent many weekends at what used to be called Canoe -inn. Later as a Sales Manager for two different National Scientific supplies companies using the Lodge many times as a meeting place using the great meeting room facilities. We are so sorry to hear of his passing away. He will missed by many!

Our family would like to extend our condolences to the entire Gates family.
We feel like our lives have been touched by the presence of a wonderful human and a giant of the sporting world that means so very much to us all.

December 23, 2009

Today is sad day for all of us who enjoyed the great atmosphere of the Gates Lodge, fishing on the Au Sable and eating in the dining room. It was one of the most relaxing places I have known.

I started staying there twenty years ago, and have since frquently taken taken my sons and grandsons there.

If I arrived alone, Rusty would often ask where are your sons and grandsons today. My grandsons always enjoyed going into the fly shop and talking to Rusty.

Thanks for the three generations of pleasant memories.

We will miss him or as my youngest grandson used to say, “let’s go done to the fly shop and talk to that Rusty Guy” They liked him as I did.

You are in my thoughts,

December 23, 2009

Today is sad day for all of us who enjoyed the great atmosphere of the Gates Lodge, fishing on the Au Sable and eating in the dining room. It was one of the most relaxing places I have known.

I started staying there twenty years ago, and have since frquently taken taken my sons and grandsons there.

If I arrived alone, Rusty would often ask where are your sons and grandsons today. My grandsons always enjoyed going into the fly shop and talking to Rusty.

Thanks for the three generations of pleasant memories.

We will miss him or as my youngest grandson used to say, “let’s go done to the fly shop and talk to that Rusty Guy” They like him as I did.

You are in my thoughts,

Best regards,

I have been stopping by Gates Lodge a few times a year for the past 20 years or so and looked forward to talking fly fishing with Rusty. It was him who really sparked my interest in the sport and the Au Sable for which I am forever greatful. He always made me feel like a close friend to him even though I only would see him for about an hour total per year. I am so sad to hear of his passing. Fishing on the river will always be fun, but will never feel quite the same again. Rest in peace Rusty and thank you for making a difference in my life.

December 23, 2009

Thanks for the memories. He enriched my life in fly fishing more than words can say.
Clay Groomes

December 23, 2009

My condolences to your family. My memory of Rusty is somewhat different. I will always remember him as the smiling little guy in at Central Elementary when your family lived in Pinconning.

December 23, 2009

The Cohen family in Northbrook, Illinois extends our sincere regret for the news that reached us today about Rusty. It is hard to believe that Rusty is gone and will no longer share with us the joys of his accomplishments in protecting the AuSable and so many other natural resources in the area so close to his heart. Since Lynn and I remember Rusty staying with us in Chicago 40 years ago, we feel especially sadden by his passing at such a young age. We can’t express how badly we feel for Mary as her loss is another terrible burden in a life filled with both joy and sadness. We hope that the memories of Rusty’s life will out weigh any sadness created by his death. Our hearts go out to Julie and the entire Gates family. We are sorry we can’t be with you. Please accept our acknowledgment of Rusty’s accomplishments and his love of the AuSable. We know Cal would have been proud of Rusty’s dedication, his preservation of the Lodge and his expansion of the ideas of conservation he learned from his Father. We will all miss Rusty and his captivating smile and welcome greeting every spring.

Your friends,

December 24, 2009

Gena: My sympathy to you and your family. While I never had the honor of knowing ‘Rusty’, I’ve heard many speak fondly of him. We can all take comfort in knowing ‘Rusty’ is still watching the AuSable, as he rests in the arms of Him who called his disciples, “Fishers of Men”.

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December 24, 2009

Dear Family of Rusty Gates…I’ve just learned of Rusty’s recent passing. I’m still in shock as are you. At this very sad moment, I can offer only my condolences and love for all of you, but remind you also how widely Rusty was loved and respected as friend, environmentalist, and activitist. Having grown up with the Gates’ family, I can also attest to the wonderful man Rusty grew into, and what a true friend he was to all. I will greatly miss stopping by the Lodge, enjoying a slice of blueberry pie, and engaging Rusty in conversation. As busy as he was, he always had time for anyone who stopped by the Lodge. Rusty was a very special person; friend to all, and a dedicated “keeper” of the AuSable, no matter what it took, and as a result, he commanded the respect from all of us who fished the AuSable’s waters. Rusty’s memory will continue to flow like the Main Stream and his memory will be in every brook and lap of water, and every hatch, all of which are there today, because of Rusty’s dedication to the environment and his willingness and courage to walk the walk of the talk he talked. My sincerest, most heart felt condolences to Mrs. Gates, and the rest of the family. Ken/Casey Carstens

 

December 26, 2009

Our family have enjoyed coming up North to the AuSable since the late sixties. Recently our grandchildren have loved the river, playing with Rusty’s dogs, and enjoying the beautiful setting of Gates Lodge.We will keep you in our prayers. Jack and Ellen Neal

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