Name: Robin Knox
Title: Coordinator, Western Native Trout Initiative
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
As coordinator of the Western Native Trout Initiative, Robin Knox gets to play with fish for a living — not bad for a guy who grew up 10 minutes outside of downtown Chicago! Learn more about Robin and the WNTI.
Q: What is your fondest hunting or angling memory?
This is tough since I have many great ones. Probably the fondest memory I have is back around 1990 or so, I took my parents fishing on a lake in southeast Colorado, and we had the best day I have ever had for white crappie fishing. We caught dozens of crappie that were 14 to 16 inches long, weighed over a pound, and both of my parents were so excited about what a great fishing trip it was. I have a great picture of them holding up a stringer of these crappies, which we later filleted and ate.
Q: What led you to your career in conservation?
I was one of seven children, and in the summer we always spent a week on a lake in northern Wisconsin. We did camping trips to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and other places, and I started to develop a love of the outdoors. I just loved to fish and was always interested in wild creatures and where they lived. After getting a bachelor’s degree in zoology, I learned that I could get a graduate degree in fisheries science and hopefully enter the fisheries management side of science. So that is what I did.
Q: Tell us a little more about the WNTI’s work to conserve native trout populations. Why are these populations important to sportsmen?
Native trout in the West are important for a number of reasons. To Native Americans they are cultural icons, and to many anglers they are a worthy quarry due to their limited distribution, their colorful bodies and hard-fighting nature. To conservationists they are indicator species that highlight the stresses placed on coldwater habitats due to population growth, resource extraction impacts, de-watering and invasive species. WNTI’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for the implementation of management actions that improve the status of the species through partnerships and cooperative efforts that result in improved habitats, better scientific information and improved recreational opportunities for anglers. WNTI works hard at increasing public knowledge and understanding of the role native trout play as we consider the best ways to conserve and improve coldwater aquatic habitats.
Q: What do you think the most important conservation issues facing sportsmen are today?
I think the key conservation issues facing sportsmen today are
a) Having a strong voice at the national level that results in good decisions about how and where energy development takes place. Important examples include supporting legislation like the Clean Water Act, ensuring funding for conservation programs and protecting wild lands.
b) Maintaining access to local lands and waters for hunting and fishing access.
c) Recruiting new anglers and hunters into the conservation community at a young age and keeping them interested in outdoor recreation until it becomes a lifelong pursuit.
Q: Why are hunters and anglers important players in the future of conservation?
For all the reasons just described above, and the fact that old farts like myself are not going to be around forever.
Q: What do you love about your job?
My job has allowed me to be a visible presence at a lot of venues where I can spread the word about native trout conservation. It allows me to stay involved at both a national as well as local level in fishery management issues that have been my life for the past 40 years. I get to interact with like-minded folks who are dedicated to protecting and improving wildlife and fisheries resources for future generations – including my grandsons. A huge plus is that I can usually figure out a way to get some angling accomplished in new and exciting places across the western United States – including Alaska every once in a while.