We have all been influenced by great mentors and fishermen. As kids, we were exposed to men and women that seemed to have the gift. As great anglers, the rule was that they needed to share the skills and knowledge. This meant that their legacy would live on.
Maryland was the home of many great anglers. When I was a kid, fly fishing was just becoming popular. A few local anglers were the Best of the Best. The first Trout Unlimited club formed near my home. I rode my bike to their first meeting. What I discovered was that this club was joined by Lefty Kreh, Boyd Pfeiffer, Joe Brooks, and many more. Lefty could cast, Boyd built gear, and Joe had fished the world. They took a kid like me under their wings and taught me how to fly fish.
There was also a local club called the Maryland Fly Anglers. We met and learned to tie flies, build rods, perform service, and raised trout for stocking. I helped and learned in all these areas. Back in the day Maryland fly fishing was exceptional.
Many of Montana’s Best anglers came from back east. Dan Bailey, Bob Jacklyn, and others began fly fishing in eastern waters. They all were unselfish when it came to teaching others how to fish. Since those early days I have performed many seminars on casting, fly tying, fishing, and how to be your best sportsman. My lesson plans were handed down from the best.
When I teach casting, Lefty’s words come out of my mouth. If I am building rods, lures, nets, flies, or any gear, my mentor’s words echo in my voice.
When I tie on a Dave Whitlock hopper, I remember watching him tie one at an outdoor show. Bob Jacklin’s stonefly nymph is amazing. Charles Brooks taught me how to tie, and fish, a floating minnow using a goose quill. Ed Koch showed me his Letort Cricket and Vince Marinaro shared his Jassid terrestrial tied with vintage jungle cock feathers..
Fishing is a gift. Those that don’t share, are tight lipped, and jealous of others don’t get it. The greatest fish are the ones that you teach someone else how to catch. Anyone can catch a fish, but can you teach someone else?
If Joe, the neighbor down the street, is a master walleye guy, become his friend. The knowledge these best fishermen is hard learned and reluctantly shared. Become a student of the sport and remember that the gifts are shared only if you share them with others.
Be the Best of the Best!