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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Published: Friday, 7/25/2014

OUTDOORS

Supporting conservation and anglers right in line for legendary company

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

A hundred years of doing anything certainly gives you some perspective. It also affords you the right to sit back, stroke the gray beard a few times, and remark about the past as you ponder the future.

Cortland Line Company has lived through the heydays of silk and linen fishing lines, and worked to stay at the forefront of the angling supply industry as those materials were replaced by nylon, Dacron, and PVC. The company says its push for innovation and its passion for fishing has never changed.

With that credo in place, when Cortland extinguishes 100 candles on its birthday cake in 2015, the wish it will be making involves having even more of an impact, in terms of producing premium angling equipment and skilled anglers, in the century ahead.

Cortland’s “Next 100 Years of Fishing” program allows it to partner with four highly-regarded organizations that are recognized as leaders in conservation and education. The company, based in the Finger Lakes region of New York, will earmark a percentage of every line sale it makes to certain hallmark projects that target saltwater and freshwater conservation, and to the education of the coming generations of anglers.

“The future of fishing depends on a concerted effort to improve fisheries, recruit new anglers, and create products that help anglers feel the pull of this great sport,” said Randy Brown, Cortland’s CEO. “With this initiative, we are dedicating ourselves to another 100 years of conservation, education and innovation.”

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Cortland has designated as its partners in this venture Trout Unlimited, the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the National Fishing in Schools Program. The company also plans to use in-store materials, social media and other outlets to help build awareness and membership for these organizations.

“The visionary support of anglers and conservationists, as well as companies like Cortland, have helped us restore many threatened fisheries in recent decades,” said Trout Unlimited president Chris Wood, “but significant challenges remain as we look ahead to the next hundred years.”

Cortland has lived with those challenges in its first century in business, and is very direct about how the sins of the past hurt many of our fisheries. The company cites the over-fishing of stripers and the pollution of the steelhead streams of the Upper Midwest, and it also recalls a time when ultra-expensive rods and silk lines made fly fishing a sport that only a tiny “elitist niche” could afford.

As wiser stewardship and more sensible management has enhanced our waterways, and improvements in equipment have created fly fishing opportunities for many more anglers, Cortland expresses a commitment to not lose any of the ground that conservationists and sportsmen have fought so hard to gain.

By offering financial support and equipment to the National Fishing in Schools Program, which St. John’s Jesuit has offered to its students in the past, Cortland is providing more young people with a proper introduction to angling as a sport and an outdoors experience, while building a customer base for the future at the same time.

Katie Cole, program manager for the National Fishing in Schools endeavor, said the investment of companies like Cortland, at a time when school and government budgets are extremely tight, puts fishing rods and tackle in schools, where teachers with the proper training can serve as instructors.

“Cortland’s commitment and support will help the organization recruit more anglers for the future,” she said. “This program provides a tremendous opportunity to reach our nation's future anglers, many of whom likely might not otherwise have the chance to learn the sport.”

The hope is that Cortland’s commitment to provide financial support for those organizations devoted to the conservation of our natural resources and to the education of future anglers will also serve as an open invitation to many other companies to join the effort. Cortland chose the occasion of its centennial celebration to showcase this effort, but any year and any day make a good time for conserving our resources, and encouraging others to experience the joy of fishing.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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