A Steelhead Quest: Q&A with Terry Myers

Q&A with Terry Myers: On fish, family and why people should have more fun.

Terry Myers seems to balance it all—marriage, motherhood, grandmotherhood, working on a ranch, volunteering, and of course having fun. I recently caught up with Terry while she was at her daughter’s house in Salmon, Idaho to learn more about “A Steelhead Quest,” her goal to catch a wild steelhead every month of the year—and to have fun while doing so.

Terry Meyers walking in the river

Photo by Becca Skinner.

AL: I’m so happy this worked out to jump on the phone. I think you mentioned you live out beyond cellphone reception.

TM: Yes. You’d love it here—I’m sitting along the river in my daughter’s hammock with a 30-foot yellow extension cord to my phone that’s about ready to die.

AL: I love your steelhead quest story for many reasons. I want to ask about something you mention in the film, that having a fun goal is important “as a matter of defense against things that aren’t always going right in the world.” That resonates deeply with me. How did that idea come to be?

TM: I am a pretty optimistic person. I think having a goal is good therapy. Anytime you can plan fun into your life it’s good for the soul. I think we get caught up in our career planning or budget planning or other planning, but you need to plan fun. The quest, for me, re-emphasized that. It brought me so much joy and confidence. As a woman who’s 60, I can still go out and sleep in the back of my truck, wade all day and fish and eat beans. You’re never done having fun.

AL: I think your ability to make time for what’s become a two-year project while also working and being a grandmother is really admirable.

TM: Yeah, it’s okay to blend it all. My daughter says, “Mom, you’re gonna be gone again? I thought maybe you’d babysit.” I tease her and say, “I want my granddaughters to know what I did when I was 60.You can find a babysitter for an hour. I gotta go fishing.” I love my grandkids and babysit them a lot, but looking at the big picture is pretty important. I want my grandkids to say, my grandma followed her heart.

AL: Is that what you hope your grandkids take away from this project?

TM: I truly hope it inspires them, especially as women, to act on their dreams and not be fearful. What I’d tell them is to get rid of the word “should.” Just do it. Everything doesn’t have to be a tall peak or a class 5 river; it can be birdwatching, rockhounding or face in the dirt looking for mushrooms. You should be out there. That’s what the “should” should be.

AL: Have you always had this optimism and passion for fun?

TM: Yeah, my husband Jerry and I laugh about it. It’s served us well. I come up with some hair-brained things and he’s there to look at reality (laughs). He’s always been a great support. But, I am the instigator of fun traditionally.

Terry laughs with husband Jerry Myers

Photo by Becca Skinner.

AL: What was your and Jerry’s partnership like on this project?

TM: Jerry likes to travel, but I’ve got more of the coyote blood, I guess. I can go at the drop of a hat. He likes to be more planned out. It’s hard for us to leave the ranch but he made that happen. I was really surprised by how much fun he had driving with me everywhere and his flexibility really came out. As fisherman we both know that you get to the river and read the conditions. You may need to go 30 more miles, or stay one more day.

AL: Sounds like a good companion for a fishing quest.

TM: Yeah, on a lot of those trips we fished all day and got one fish. But we got one fish.

AL: Let’s talk about that for a minute. Did you expect to catch all your steelhead that first year in 2015?

TM: I was hopeful, but I’m not surprised we didn’t. I know steelhead enough to know it is hard. We did become pinched for time. Those summer months were brutally hard in 2015 with the drought conditions. We set our windows and tried to work it.

AL: Did you ever get disappointed?

TM: It was a little disappointing, not for me as much as for the people reading my blog. I had people rooting for me. Part of my goal was to publicize wild steelhead. I wanted to share a deep love for these fish and how important they are. You always hear statistics and sad articles, but I wanted to share wild steelhead with the world in a different way.

(Terry and her husband Jerry are active with Trout Unlimited; read more of her writing about fish conservation and habitat protection on her blog.)

Terry Myers walks through a forest with fishing rods

Photo by Becca Skinner.

AL: Why now for this project?

TM: There was an urgency, for the fish and for us. Some of those rivers are big and hard to wade, and we’re not getting any younger. I said, we can do it. Let’s make it happen.

AL: What advice do you have for someone who has an idea, goal or project they haven’t yet put into motion?

TM: Get rid of the word should. Prioritize whatever brings you joy. I think the world would be a great place if we all lived our lives a little happier.

AL: Unfortunately it’s something we may occasionally need to be reminded of.

TM: When people see my wrinkles and gnarly knuckles, they know I work for a living. I am happy, though, and I feel lucky to mix it all—work, fun, friendships and partnerships.

AL: Your perspective is refreshing. So, before we go, what about that July fish?

TM: I can’t wait to go find a place to try my July fish. A part of me wants to go back to Oregon and a part of me wants to go experience a brand-new river. So, I’m weighing that out. July is still looming. I’m not giving up.

Read Terry’s blog: Of Wild Expectations.

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