October 18, 2016
By Jonathan Wright
The Fly Fishing industry is known for environmental advocacy, a mindset that is an outgrowth of historical conservation. Social media organizing and fundraising are a part of what makes the Fly Fishing community what it is today, with many events having a side effect of reinforcing the connections and values of people who might never encounter each other on the river. While the majority of these events address issues of resource, there are times where the community steps up to help one of it's own.
Peter Berntsen is long time Boulder businessman and former manager of Kinsley's, the region's premier Orvis dealer. For the past 6 years, he has served the store manager of Front Range Anglers, an extremely complete shop and guide service. Peter himself has been a passionate fly fisherman for 50 years. Last December, he was stricken with Myelitis, an infection of the spinal cord that manifested suddenly one morning when Peter was managing the sales floor. This disease has mostly paralyzed him from the waist down. Due to this, he has limited control of his muscles and has rendered him to a wheelchair. As an outdoorsman and an athlete, this has undoubtedly been extremely hard.
On learning of this, Front Range Anglers owner Steve McLaughlin immediately went to work to organize fundraising to assist Peter with his medical bills and show him the support that the community has for him. Steve and his wife, along with Peter's sister Barb Berntsen set up GoFundMe accounts that have raised almost $10,000 to help defray costs, but Peter's journey is ongoing. Peter is slowly recovering, and showing real guts in the grueling physical therapy sessions that are required to get back to full function.
On October 15, Front Range hosted a premier of a widely anticipated adventure fly fishing film, "Providence", from Confluence's Film's Chris Patterson and Jim Klug. In an extremely charitable act, all proceeds were donated to benefit Peter Berndsen's recovery fund.
The producers give the following description of the new production.
"Yellow Dog Flyfishing's Camille Egdorf teams up with South African guides Gerhard Laubscher and Tim Babich for an amazing journey and a return to the remote and uninhabited Seychelles atoll of Providence. The film chronicles the first trip back to Providence Atoll since the waters were closed in 2010 due to the threats from Somali pirates. Finally, the team returned in October of 2015 fishing for multiple flats species including trevally, bonefish, Indo-Pacific permit, and more. Providence is an amazing story of adventure, piracy, challenging fish, and untouched flats."
I personally have had the great pleasure of guiding fly fishing alongside Peter for a season in Rocky Mountain National Park. Every day, Peter's depth of knowledge -- both of the intricacies of the sport and in how to convey this to an enormously varied clientele -- was shared without reservation, and it helped me up my game. The Fly Fishing community has been lucky to have him in our midst. Please consider making a donation to help keep him around.