Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paying It Forward

A vignette from the Raleigh Fly Fishing Expo - Sunday, January 30th, 2011

A small boy - seven, maybe eight years old - leans on a pole next to the casting pool while his father rummages through shirts in a nearby booth. The boy watches a second man who is trying out a rod, working it hard, getting its feel, deciding if it’s what he needs. He's been there a while despite the line waiting for a shot on the pool.

From the crowd quietly steps a tall, older gentleman, dressed in brown, bent slightly with age but with a youthful sparkle in his eye and a mischievous grin on his face. The older gent asks the caster if he might see the rod and, when it’s handed over, instead of casting it, turns and beckons to the youth. As the boy approaches, the elder kneels gently, and hands the rod to the child.

The two spend the next ten minutes together and the boy gets a lesson he might never forget from a kind and gentle stranger.

Who is the boy? I have no idea. He might be your son, or mine. It doesn't matter.

Who is the kindly gentleman? None other than one of our true fly fishing treasures, Joe Humphreys.

Some day, years from now, I hope to encounter this small boy, by then a young man, on some far-flung trout stream. I won’t recognize him, of course, but I suspect that I’ll note that he has a beautiful stroke and, more importantly, a gentleness of manner about him. He’s been given a great model to start with.

Thank you, Joe. From all of us.

I can't believe that I didn't take a picture - my camera was in my pocket - but I was transfixed by the scene and by Joe's genuine interest and kindness with a youngster he'd never laid eyes on before. It's probably just as well. No picture could adaquately capture such a moment.


Jay said...

In a way... Joe taught me how to fish dry flies. I learned from a VHS video by Rod & Reel magazine entitled "Fly Fishing Success: Dry Fly Strategy with Joe Humphreys." I'll never forget his methods for explaining how to push a cast under overhanging trees or hearing him tell the viewer to "squeeze, squeeze" while demonstrating that all you need is just a squeeze of the hand to make the perfect short cast.
I wish I could have been there to witness that, and I'm glad you did see it so you could share it with us.

Anonymous said...

What a nice story. Nothing better than being taught by someone with immense knowledge to take away years of heart ache of trial and error!

Lucky kid!

cofisher said...

That's just one of the reasons I love fly fishing. Truly great men are truly great mentors and someone we never forget.

Unknown said...

Great little storry . I was planning on attending but got stuck retreaving a squirrel from my fireplace instead. sad I missed it but maybe next year.