July 19th, 2004

By James Castwell

I remember as a kid 'looking up' to several people. Often people suggested by my dad. These were the early '40's different times back then. We didn't have much, but got along. We fished for perch and hunted pheasants and ducks and we read magazines. Outdoor Life, Argosy, Field and Stream and Sports Afield. In them we found the magic names. The guru's of our times and the suppliers of stuff we just had to have. If you didn't re-paint your duck decoys with a kit of do-it-yourself paints from Herters, well, you just weren't doing things right.

From special collars for your duck or bird dog, hunting coats, fishing gear, heck you name it, if Herters didn't have it, you probably didn't need it. I would have looked up to Mr. Herter, that is for sure. And others too. The guys writing about hunting would have impressed me too. We had a guy come to our city with a slide show, filled the big auditorium, Wally Tabor. Big Game fellow. Wore a belted safari jacket and a hat with a leopard hat band. Wow, I was impressed. And Howard Hill with his bows and arrows, he impressed me.

I now notice one thing they all had in common, they all were older than I was. Guess that makes it easier to look up to someone if they are older. As I drifted somewhat aimlessly through my early years and survived a few mid-life adventures I was fortunate to have met and associated with a great bunch of fellow anglers. As many were about my age they didn't particularly stand out as gurus, however, most have matriculated to that high position these days. It jars me to admit how many I really do know. And some of them were the truly great men of our sport.

Now, looking back over some of the years, I get to wondering where are the great ones of today? The giants of the sport. The movers and shakers who will and are forming the perimeters of our ethics and moires. I think it has to do with age. My age. The veils and shrouds of times and places past dim the view from here. Looking back is not easy, hard to recognize greatness in a youthful package. Would I notice a college kid producing a book on how to tie flies like those hatching. Would I even admit that he may have been one of the true geniuses of fly-fishing?

If a young author took the sacred name of Trout and wrote a book by that name would I think well of him or weep for Ray Bergman? If the same writer wrote his life memoirs when he was only in his early twenties, would I say, "full steam ahead, young-un, go get 'em!" Most likely not. As I said, hard to see some things from out here on this end. Lately most of the news I get and talk about with my buddies is who passed away last week and ain't it a damn shame. And we are right too, there will never be guys like them. Their time has come and gone. New times will call for new names and faces and they will be there. The problems will demand answers and there will be those who will fill them in.

Actually they are there now. They are in each generation, working their way to the top when necessary, doing what needs to be done, sometimes quietly, sometimes with a flair, but, as our sport demands and offers challenges and opportunities, so do they rise to take the mantle and the responsibility as it is offered. There were heros in my time. Those who did spectacular things, true giants of the sport. They were needed then and are needed now; and we have them. They may just be hard to recognize. You may be fishing with one, or know one, or know of one, or you, yes you, you may be one.

Fact is, in someone's eyes, you probably already are. Think about it. Is there a person who looks up to you because you can cast a fly rod, or even just that you fish? Maybe you can write or take great pictures. Yes, I think there may be a lot of great and near great in our midst these days.

Take a good look around, change your perspective. Might surprise yourself who you see. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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