My first fishing experiences were on little inlets to Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk VA... My dad was in the Navy and we would rent a little boat and head out and try and catch flounder. We also fished a few times the edges of the Dismal Swamp...This was late 50's early 60's. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. There used to be this huge pier at Virginia Beach that was blasted away by Hugo that we fished from. You would walk way out and then if you wanted to go beyond some point you had to pay...
My earliest encounter with a CO was at the Dismal Swamp between VA and North Carolina. We had fished there during the day, just my dad, a friend of his, and myself. Later that evening we returned with my mom and the other guys wife...There was probably some alcohol invoved and this other guy's wife didn't have a license...They had fish in the trunk and she was ticketed...The odd thing here: Though I was too young to need one then, I have never been asked by anyone to see my fishing license since! Not once and I'm 56.
I have this weird memory of fishing there during the day and this huge black woman hooked some sort of eel. I can still remember her screaming, jumping up and down, her monster breasts flying every-which-way, and the eel flopping around in the road...It made quite an impression on a 3rd grader I guess.
The fly fishing I have mentioned here before. After moving to Michigan in 1963 (my pop taught NROTC at Ann Arbor) my parents divorced. My dad's father took me under his wing and I hunted with him in the winter and stayed on the farm near Marion, MI in the summer living the Huckfinn life.
I had fished, almost non-stop, a local creek near the farm with some local friends. We always talked about the mysterious trout...But I could not catch one. One day I was driving by the fishing hole with my grandfather and some guy was walking back to his car with waders on, a vest, carrying a fly rod...
I remember turning in my seat to see this guy and asking my grandfather what he was doing. He said that he's fishing for trout...So, the mystery fish had special equipment to catch it and this sparked my interest. I've been interested ever since.
In junior high I worked at my step-father's shoe repair shop. Some of the older guys had girly mags behind the counter and of course I purused their pages as well. One of these mags was Esquire and in those days it was subtitled, "A magazine for men", and had a centerfold in it...It also had Arnold Gingrich as the editor and was filled with fly fishing articles. This was just fuel to the fire started a few years earlier.
Somewhere between this moment and my actual fishing life happened...University, first marriages, divorces, work, etc and I was diverted from angling for some time. I had to work my way through school and was driving truck with a large newspaper here in Detroit in the evenings...
One of the guys I worked with there became a good friend of mine...I remember we were loading trucks on the dock one night with bundles of newspapers and at that time the docks were outside...We are only a few blocks from the Detroit River...One night as we were working a large mayfly was atracted to the lights and he picked it up by the wings and proclaimed to everyone..."Hexegenia limbata or it's cousin..." I was stunned! "You know entomology", I asked...
Turned out he was doing the same thing I was...Working his way through school. It also turned out he's the real deal in terms of fly fishing in our state...I begged him to help me out. He tried to talk me out of it...He brought over catalogs and tried to tell me how much dough I'd have to spend etc. It didn't work.
He ended up building my first rods and teaching me to tie, and basically showing me the ropes. Our first trip to the Au Sable he introduced me to folks up there that are friends of mine to this day. I like to say he helped me pass fly fishing 101 in a hurry...He has been generous beyond belief.
He likes to apologise from time to time to my wife because he claims he never knew I'd turn in to a fanatic! He sends her softball sized balls of frozen fillets of perch he hauls out through the ice in an attempt to make it up to her. It's kind of a funny thing to me...He retired finally from the place where we met...He stayed there his whole working career.
My friend built me two "special" rods for Montana, a Sage 4wt and a Sage 5wt, that I still use. They were RPL's designed to help me with the wind out there when I first visited...If it wouldn't of been for my friend I would of never made it out there period, but fishing the mighty Madison would of been impossible...Along with my 23.5 inch Brown that I caught there with many of his smaller cousins...My first fish on the Madison then was a twenty inch Bow that, along with that river, reminded me...I may be good, but I'm still learning! He kicked my ass!
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively
"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood