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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Mike Clifford

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Rooting around in some boxes in the garage, I happened upon some old ISA newsletters. What I was able to determine from a 2004 issue was that it was when I became the Conservation Director for our group. It astonished me to learn that I've been in that position for half as long as the ISA has been in existence.

Another interesting fact to consider- of the 17 club officers at that point, 5 of us remain. Scott, Joz, Eric, Rich and myself.


If any of you have favorite memories and photos from your membership, please feel free to share them here!

Whether you have been a member since the beginning, somewhere in between or have been here for a short time and would like to talk about your ISA experience- I'd like to hear about it!







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I've only been a member for about 5 years, but one thing I do remember form when I first joined, was having

to take a vacation day from work (2nd shift guy) to go to my first ISA NW Region meeting.

I was excited! I got all dressed up in some fishy looking clothes, put my fly covered fishing cap

upon my head, walked into the meeting all ready to meet my new buddies.

Rich Mc was there and said as he was glancing at my hat....


"Looks like you're trying to tie some Clousers."

I had a great time, even with my hat on.

I also got to meet my bestest buddy of all, Jude.

I think we should work him in to the Emotion Code Faces....




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Meetings at Pal Joey's in West Chicago where 25-30 guys showed up to watch a presentation, drink a few beers and eat pizza. Jim's bridge fishing presentation. Jonn's float-n-fly presentation at the Blowout. Planning my first Blowout with Joz and Scott at a Starbucks on a chilly December evening in Danada Square in Wheaton. The newness of it all. Taking Jonn Graham fishing in my kayak in "my neck of the woods" for the first time and completely slaying them!


Going way back ... ISA members / fishing friends from the internet that I barely knew showing up at my dad's wake to cheer me up and even bringing some lures. ISA guys stopping by the house to congratulate me and have a few beers the night my son was born.


Going to Joz's 50th birthday party shin-dig!


Way, way, way, back -- just out of college and fishing the South Branch of the Kishwaukee River just about every weekend. Mostly going solo. Fishing beneath the Geneva dam and learning the Fox.

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I can go way back. When I joined there were about 30 members. 1993 or 94. Went to a meeting at Starved Rock with a bunch of guys I had never met. Pete P. was one of them and Bill Calhoon was another. They were having officer elections and, without me having any idea at all, they nominated me to be president................WHAT??? Totally caught me off guard. My dad was there with me and he told me to go for it...................so I did. Great times. This club has allowed me to meet and fish with some of the greatest anglers ever. And some of the greatest people you will ever meet. That is what makes our club so outstanding..................great humans.

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Some of the cleanups on the Kankakee when we would get 40 or so guys. Grillmaster Mark K handling the cooking, my wife's homemade cookies, impromptu seminars, guys teaming up to fish afterwards. fishing outings on the Kankakee where my plan was to fish with Phil but so many showed up that he graciously lead a group even though it was not his home river .


the outing with a few members where my wife and the dog tracked us down, led us back to freshly fried chicken , corn bread and homemade cookies .


the panel group at one of the banquets in Wilmington where we sat and answered questions . might be something worth doing again at the banquet .


The winter get togethers that more or less was the beginnings of the breakfast club.


opening speaker at one of the banquets that lead to me getting together with Steve Quinn to contribute to an article in In Fisherman magazine .


representing the ISA at Conservation Congress, the Kankakee river Basin Commission/Partnership, the Kankakee River Roundtable and at the infamous Farmers for a floodfree Kankakee meeting over in Indiana.


meeting Jonn and I believe Ron Scott at Davis Creek before a meeting later held in Kankakee.


going to an outing on the Fox, hooking up with another member, neither having been in a canoe before. did the float, backwards many times, didn't dump it and caught fish .


sharing the Kankakee with a goodly number of members at club outings, breakfast clubs, after cleanups and more informal outings.


bumming around with Phil on his great assortment of waters, bouncing all sorts of ideas off each other while driving and fishing .


Powerton, sometimes catching fish, other times not so much. Seeing Jonn lose a hair jig and than a little later seeing him catch a smallmouth on his last identical hair jig, that had the jig he lost still stitched to the lip .also the goose that didn't like Jonn more than it didn't like others.


cleanups, water willow plantings with my son, also Zach and I helping with the Everglades of the North project .


walking back, gathering up materials after the first waterwillow planting and seeing small fish using them as current breaks less than an hour after they were planted.

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Representing the ISA at many conservation related functions and meetings over the years has left indelible memories that will last a lifetime.
The respect our organization is given by our peers is heartfelt from their perspective and always appreciated.
Receiving Pat Quinn's Environmental Hero Award in 2007 probably changed my life more than any other single thing as conservation is concerned.
Having pie and coffee overlooking the Kankakee River with a senator and presenting her with indisputable facts on why a lead ban for anglers will not work in this state, and seeing the bill pulled from the legislators the very next morning gave me a great deal of faith in the system. It served to remind me that WE are a part of the system, and deserve to have a seat at the table when decisions are being made that affect us all.
Seeing over 100,000 kids benefit from our efforts in teaching them how to cast a fishing rod and watching them catch fish as a result of our education provided memories for me I will carry with me the rest of my life.

What started as 20 kids at Monee Reservoir blossomed into several years at the State Fair, Hunting and Fishing Days, Scout-O-Rama, the Rosemont Show and continues today with Sgt. Tommy's Kids.
Conservation Congress was an amazing experience in learning the inner workings of the IDNR, and a program that I will expect to continue with a new administration.

Many of the social aspects of the club I experienced while we were in a "working environment". The purpose of ISA members being there was to benefit smallmouth fishing and natural habitats in the future. I couldn't be more proud to be associated with these amazing individuals and an incredible organization over these many years.

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Guest rich mc

back around 1998 or so jonn and mark durham talked to our slsc club on smallies. most of our board joined isa , I think I was #99 or 100. one of the biggest project isa has ever done was the log jam removal at the new potawattamie state park . Paul Trybul, Kevin Dells just started up the northwest region. along with 2 bobcats , 5 chain saws and help from about 30 people. 350 man hours were spent over two weekends. rich mc

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I signed up at the Arlington Park show in January, 2000. Jonn Graham and Ed Loch were the first members I met when they were working the booth. I was in a hurry to learn the rivers so I attended every outing and meeting we had. I even drove up to the Gurnee Bass Pro for my first meeting. Other meeting were held at the Homestead Restaurant in Kankakee. Few of us bought any food so we weren't asked back! The first project I did was the initial yellow sign installation. I did the Fox, Kankakee and DuPage Rivers. I still haven't fished all the spots I learned while putting up signs. At an outing on the Fox River, Joz asked me to take over publishing the newsletter. My first issue was July, 2001. I also remember the Blowouts down in Wilmington. The ISA has been my major hobby for the last 14 years. I've spent more hours in the service of the ISA than any other place except for my job. I've seen some major growth and am proud to say I was a part of it.

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