This sounds like a list of names from a Willy Nelson song but it’s not. These names represent fishing Mentors in my life. Fishing, hunting, and the outdoors was so important. Having wonderful Mentors made it even better. These outdoor sports taught more than catching fish, filling limits, or playing outside.
Outdoor sports are about rules, limits, regulations, ethics, respect, responsibility, skills, learning, joy, and making good choices. These are all the things that parents want for their kids. These Mentors took time to teach a kid about these and so much more. As I grew up and needed to make important choices and decisions, I would often ask myself, “So what would they do?”
Lefty Kreh helped me build my first fly rod. It was a 6-foot Lamiglas rod. He also always gave me advice and made me laugh. When I would meet him on a river, he always gave great advice and support. He also taught me how to cast correctly. Lefty is the greatest fisherman that ever cast a line. ￼
Bob Jacklyn owns a trout shop in West Yellowstone. When I first met him, I was 8 tears old. I wanted to buy a special lure to catch trout in Yellowstone Lake. He sold me some Money Clip style spoons and gave me a store hat! That was special coming from a shop that focused on fly fishing. Since then, I have enjoyed stopping by to see my old friend many times. We have also presented seminars at many outdoor shows together. ￼
Bud Lilly also had a special shop in West Yellowstone. He always had time for kids! His daughter was also cute, and I often stopped by to flirt with her. Bud hooked me up with my first dozen flies. He also took me to the tying bench and showed me how to tie a caddis. My first ties were rough but worked perfectly. ￼
Dan Bailey had a trout shop in Livingston. I always enjoyed telling him about the fish I caught. None were as big as the board fish hanging around his shop. The fly-tying ladies always were filling his fly bins as they smoked cigarettes and drank Budweiser’s. Dan hooked me up with one lady so she could show be some fly-tying tips. Soon he was also sitting next to me teaching the basics of fly tying. Later, Dan’s son would take over the shop and carry on his dad’s legacy. ￼
Charlie Brooks was also a special Mentor. Besides being a great fisherman and author, he was a great man. I spent the day with Charlie touring the waters of Yellowstone Park. He showed me the how to, where to, and what to dos to have fun fishing. We never took ka cast. I had saved a winters worth of snow shoveling money to pay for the day. At the end of the day, he gave me an autographed book with my $50 in it. I still use his floating minnow patterns in his honor. ￼
Some of these Mentors were in my life for moments. Some still are. Many other Mentors were also important. The old guys that just seemed to show up and share a fly or idea were also important. They always had time to help a kid. These nameless anglers also made a difference in a young kid’s life.
The lesson I have learned from Mentors is to pass the gifts along. Share flies, ideas and help new and young anglers along the drift. You never know how important a simple suggestion, idea, or smile can be. I have always tried to live up to their legacy. My skills have all been inspired and learned from so many Mentors that encourage me to take one more cast.
Tight Lines to them all!