While the famous saying goes that success has many fathers, it’s a matter of record that the Izaak Walton League had precisely 50 of them when it was formed in Chicago in 1922. Created by a unique group of lawyers, doctors, and advertising executives, one of the country’s oldest conservation organizations grew from a small number of hunters and fishermen into a significant force in land and water protection.
And yet one prominent figure was not among the founders. Izaak Walton, whose name is honored as the organization’s masthead, had been dead for almost 250 years before its forming, but those 50 original members had good reasons to recognize and pay tribute to the man considered to be the father of flyfishing.
Walton, whose book The Compleat Angler gave birth to recreational fishing, was a unique visionary. As one writer noted, he was a man “‘knowing how’ before ‘knowing that'” in the unheard-of field of water protection. His legacy led his followers to protect fishing opportunities for future generations.
While the Izaak Walton League has intentionally been low profile since its founding, the impact of the organization’s work on the Mid-Shore has been impressive. With a Talbot County chapter created in 1949, the IWL has not only protected and maintained its 50-acre Bolingbroke Park in Trappe, where it holds its meetings and provides opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and fishing but took a leadership role in recycling in the region and now provides over $13,000 in scholarships, much of which is dedicated to students at UM’s Horn Point Lab.
The Spy sat down with Chapter president Calvin Yowell the other day to learn more.
This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Izaak Walton League please go here.