The television star
Six weeks ago, I received an unusual request from our friend Misako Ishimura. Misako is a member of the Japanese Women’s Fly Fishing Organization. She wanted me to participate in the making of a fly fishing film that would be sponsored by the Shimano Tackle Company of Japan, the tentative title being “Fly Fishing in the Catskill Mountains of America.” The show is to be shown on Japanese television. Misako, or “Misa” as she prefers to be called, is such a wonderful, bubbly little lady it was impossible to refuse her plea.
On June 8, I met with Misa and the three Japanese gentlemen of the filming crew. The young man who would be directing me fortunately spoke excellent English. The Willowemoc Creek was to be our fishing destination. In addition to graphite fly rods and fly reels, the Shimano Company also makes excellent waders that were worn by the filming crew. The name “Shimano” was prominently displayed on their waders. The crew was amused to see the name “Simms” in large letters on my waders.
We started filming at 1:30 p.m. under a blazing hot sun, without a cloud in the sky. I was dubious about our chances for success under these weather conditions. Since the Shimano Company was paying for the film, I was to use a Shimano rod and reel. My director informed me that they wished me to fish dry fly only. Since they had obtained a dozen dry flies from Mary Dette Clarke, they suggested I try one of these first. Oh my, does that lady tie a pretty fly. I would be ashamed to put one of mine in the same fly box with hers.
As I feared, in three hours I was able to find only one small pool that contained a few rising fish. Hmm, I could see no flies floating over these trout, yet they worked fairly steadily. I showed these fish one of the Clarke flies and drew three short rises. The fly clearly interested the fish, but it seemed to be either too large or to sit up too high on the flow. The rise forms were soft, which seemed to indicate something small. I decided to try one of my oddball flies: a tiny fly tied on a #18 hook, 2x short. With its reddish brown body of superfine poly and a very tiny tuft of light gray poly for flotation and visibility it was an imitation of no particular insect. This was a scruffy, nothing kind of fly.
Back in 1954, Walter Dette had showed a struggling young angler how to rub a small amount of Red Label Mucilin, into a fly’s wings and tail, so that it would “float like a cork.” New materials come and go, but for my money, nothing beats Red Label Mucilin when you wish your fly or fly line to float.
I treated the tiny tuft of poly with Mucilin and cast the fly. A trout rose, and I hooked the only trout of the afternoon. A monster brown, all of eight inches long. Sadly, this fish was hardly typical of a Catskill Mountains trout. I expect that most of the footage shot that day will wind up on the cutting room floor. It is my sincere hope that Misa had enlisted other volunteers who were able to show the camera larger Catskill trout.
At the end of the day, my director asked me some questions about fly fishing for trout in the Catskill Mountains. For me that was the easy part. All I had to do was run my mouth. No skill required there.
After my performance that day on the Willowemoc, I do not think I can expect any calls from the American Sunday morning fly fishing shows. As somebody once wrote, “Fame is fleeting.”