When we look around at the staff, the volunteers, the business owners and the tireless advocates who make Trout Unlimited what it is today, we see what follows when you mix a little work ethic with a strong dose of backbone. 

Short answer? You get things done. TU is the organization that gets it done for trout and trout anglers.

Maybe that comes across as bragging. But consider the context in which we live: These days, our sense of time has warped a bit. We forget what happened this morning, let alone commitments made 10 years ago. At the same time, we are living in politically tense times. Often, it seems we as a country cannot agree on the color of the sky, let alone how to protect our greatest resources. 

But within those challenges, TU has not only survived, it has thrived. 

We know and deeply believe that conservation is not political. In 2018, we protected more than a half a million acres of land, helping usher through the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act, one of the largest public lands protection acts in recent history. In doing so, we also honored the conservation legacy of one of our World War II heroes and his dedicated wife.

We also know that a desire for clean water is not Democratic or Republican. And TU has the vision and power to not only protect our resources, but fix them when they are in need. This year we reconnected 418 miles and restored 508 miles of streams and rivers across the country. Then we went to bat to protect those investments, pushing decision makers to protect our headwaters by standing by the Clean Water Act.

Because simply caring for a river itself is not enough, we increased our efforts to foster a connection to place. This past year, the Veteran Service Partnership hosted 4,000 veterans with 700 programs and added 10 new chapter programs. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg. 

When we sit down to write these reports, we do it with eyes wide open. We see the landscape for what it is, warts and all. And we tend to be pragmatic about these things. 

What we don’t expect is to be amazed at what happened right in front of us each year. Perhaps we become accustomed to the over-achieving nature of TU over time. But there is no denying the positive impact Trout Unlimited is having in community after community, all across this country. 

Among our 300,000 members and supporters and more than 220 staff, we have a generous depth of talent, not to mention an endless supply of optimism. 

We also have what many other conservation organizations do not: The grit and selflessness to go out, get our hands dirty, quite literally, and make our streams and rivers better. When others find it easier to phone it in, TU supporters and staff put in the sweat-equity to get the job done. Rain or shine, no matter how uphill the battle.

In the pages of this annual report you will find the many other threads that tie us together as anglers. Love of place, dedication to our coldwater fisheries and a deeply engrained drive to pass on these gifts to the future.

We hope it inspires you to pull out the work gloves and help us continue the long, yet gratifying march toward better coldwater fisheries.


Chris Wood
President and CEO of Trout Unlimited


Bernard C. Bailey
Chairman of the Trout Unlimited Board of Directors

What is Trout Unlimited?

Trout Unlimited is a conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring trout and salmon fisheries and the watersheds upon which they depend.

Take care of the fish and the fishing will take care of itself.

Art Neumann

Trout Unlimited founder

Trout Unlimited is a community of more than 300,000 members and supporters operating out of more than 400 local chapters and state councils. We are the most dedicated trout, salmon and steelhead anglers in America, who not only appreciate the pastime of fishing, but who are also dedicated to keeping our resources around for future generations.

As an organization, we are wholly committed to an inclusive culture that respects the dignity and worth of each individual. In fact the Diversity and Inclusion workgroup of the National Leadership Council has been working for more than a decade to foster diversity and belonging across Trout Unlimited’s volunteer-led chapters and councils.  Today we are navigating how to meaningfully adopt practices that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of the organization — values that are core to our identity and our strategy.

Our “boots in the water” accounted for more than 737,000 volunteer hours, 1,078 conservation projects and 1,668 education projects that engaged youth.

But what does “boots in the water” mean? It means physically working — digging, planting, carrying, cleaning. Making rivers better. Planting trees, placing rocks, securing logs, all to benefit the stream, its trout and salmon and those who fish it. It means being present. Participating. Being there for events that teach children river stewardship or get wounded veterans on the water. Being part of the process from the obscure planning meeting to the high-profile Congressional hearing. Showing up, again and again, educating, advocating, all in the name of conservation. Mile by mile, acre by acre, no organization in the world has the bandwidth nor physically does more to improve, protect and sustain trout and salmon waters than Trout Unlimited.

We are here to be the positive change in our communities. By making our waterways more resilient, we are working toward a better, safer, cleaner future. By protecting public lands, we are safeguarding the birthplaces of our rivers and upholding the promise of places that belong to us all. In reconnecting these places we are keeping water in our streams and utilizing flood plains, thereby lessening the impact of drought and flood. By restoring degraded streams we are removing toxic chemicals from our water supplies and providing usable habitat to fish and wildlife populations. Through outreach to youth and veterans, we are passing along the wonder and healing and peace that comes with the power of water and fishing.

From the headwaters to the sea, we are not daunted by the challenges we face.

Quite the opposite in fact. Trout Unlimited is here to serve. We are here to get things done.