Between official chapter "project" streams and waters that received ad-hoc stockings, Ernie and his TU companions created more than 20 trout streams essentially from whole cloth. In 2007, he presided over the ceremonial stocking of the Kanawha Valley Chapter's one-millionth juvenile brown trout.
He also spearheaded a couple of other high-profile TU projects - the annual cleanup on McDowell County's Elkhorn Creek, and the annual "bucket brigade" to carry limestone sand into the Middle Fork of the Williams River.
My memories of Ernie are more personal.
When I was a student at Tech in the early 1980s, he often took me to lunch, where the conversation always centered on trout, fly fishing, water quality and conservation.
Around that time, he invited me to accompany him to a TU national meeting in Staunton, Va., where we camped in a tent and, after the conference ended, spent a pleasant morning fishing Mossy Creek, a famous limestone spring creek. Ernie managed to catch a couple of those finicky browns, including a fat 15-incher that took a grasshopper pattern. I got skunked, but Ernie, always the gentleman, refused to razz me about it.
I'll miss his lopsided grin, his distinctive voice, and the ever-present twinkle in his eyes. West Virginia's trout fishing community will miss his experience, his expertise and his evenhanded leadership.
His name will live on, though. Earlier this year, members of the Kanawha Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited voted to rename the chapter. Henceforth it will be known as the Ernie Nester Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
I can think of no more fitting tribute.
Rest in peace, Ernie. We shall miss you.