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January 25, 2015
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The winner and the collector

Wednesday evening, July 18, I played the part of a fishing buddy for young Arnon Goldberg. Arnon is trying to master the mysteries of fly fishing while attending the Trout Unlimited “Fish Camp.” As is the case with all beginners, it will take a while. Arnon seems to have the proper degree of determination and inquisitiveness.

Unfortunately, the deck tonight was stacked against him before he made his first cast. Firstly. his casting was deplorable. Secondly, the leader he was using was very poorly designed. Even on those rare times when he made a half-way decent cast, his leader simply collapsed in a heap barely past the tip of his fly line. There were two trout, which for a good part of the evening rose right in front of us. However, if an angler cannot put the fly where a feeding trout can see it, no trout will be hooked. Arnon will remember for a long time the frustration he suffered that night.

The next day, both Kurt Nelson and I worked with Arnon trying to improve his casting technique. I also changed the leader on his fly line to a design that has worked well for me. Once this change was made, Arnon no longer had a problem with his leader collapsing into a heap. Arnon’s chances of hooking a trout are improving.

When it became time to leave the stream, I very slowly waded back towards the bank. I had just reached ankle-deep water, when another angler came wading downstream. We exchanged a few pleasantries while I sought a place on the bank where my bum knee would allow me to crawl out of the stream. As I struggled to regain my met, the other angler said he wanted to show me a picture. He took out his digital camera and let me view a large trout lying next to his fly rod. I complimented him on the size of the fish and introduced myself to him. With a twinkle in his eye, he told me he knew who I was. Tom Brown had told him he would find me downstream. I would be the fellow wearing the cowboy hat. He then said, “I’m Bob Moase.” He could have knocked me flat with a hackle feather. This was the gentleman who had won two flies from me by answering the “Clem’s Quiz Questions” that had appeared in an April column. We have been pen pals ever since. Mr. Moase had learned I would be on the river tonight mentoring one of the youngsters. He decided it was time we met. What a wonderful, unexpected surprise.

That night, on the drive home, Tom mentioned he had met a very interesting fellow who was fishing a Leonard bamboo fly rod. He had been kind enough to allow me to cast it a time or two. Tom said he was staying in a small camper up on the road. The following day, on the way home from Balls Eddy, after working with Arnon, I stopped and knocked on the camper. Out popped Mr. Blair Williams. When I mentioned we both favored bamboo fly rods, a lengthy conversation ensued. Mr. Williams has a large collection of old bamboo fly rods. He does not keep them under glass. He fishes them. In no time, I had that old Leonard in my hand. This was followed by several other rods and reels, all older than I was. Now, that is quite a feat. It took only a few minutes for me to realize that I was in over my waders when discussing bamboo fly rods with Mr. Williams. He is a treasure trove of knowledge. I intend to come knocking on that trailer door again.