I recognized the name on the list. It seemed a judge had
signed up for my fly fishing class at the college. In fact,
he was rather prominent. My winter classes were
accredited, ran in the evenings, were thirteen weeks
and included a slide show, tying, entomology and casting.
The year was 1970 and fly fishing in the mid-west was
doing well. I met a lot of nice folks during the school
and as usual invited all of them to join me on the stream
any time. Some took me up on it for continued instruction
and others just wanted to know where the heck I fished.
This was actually how I met my wife, the Ladyfisher.
In the summer (late spring actually) I and my fishing
partner ran a school at a campground on the river. Often
some of the same names would appear on both lists. One
of the couples in my first winter class later became close
personal friends and we fished together for many years.
He eventually went on to become the President of T.U.
for the state and later became a well known guide both
in the mid-west and Montana.
The next winter class I held contained the name of the
judge again. He was a great guy, tied well, knew his bugs
and couldn't cast his way out of a paper bag. Something
just never came together for him about it. I even used a
video camera, but to no avail. We went through the whole
class that season and finished with the casting lessons
which we held in the gymnasium. Two years of my teaching
and I had failed this man completely. He was no better
than the first day he had signed up.
We had however, become very good friends, so when the idea
of a steelhead fishing trip came up and he indicated he
would like to join us I was pleased. Now, forgive me here,
but if you can roll-cast and handle basic casting, you can
fish for steelhead. He could at least do that. The plan was
for me, my fiancee, my fishing buddy and the judge to meet
at a lodge on the west side of the state on a Friday evening
and hit the fish first thing in the morning. We shared a two
bed cabin for the night and after a pleasant dinner hit the
sack about ten p.m.
My soon to be wife and I climbed into our bed and the judge
and my fishing buddy shared the other one. Now, I have a
rather dry sense of humor and sometimes it can get me into
trouble. This was to be one such event. As the lights were
turned off, I casually mentioned to the judge that, "Hey,
I don't care what you may have heard about him having
'tendencies,' I don't think there is any truth to it
whatsoever." With that we went to sleep.
It was at breakfast the next morning that I noticed the
judge looked like absolute death warmed over. Taking me
aside, and offering to ring my damn neck, he explained
that although he didn't think that my fishing buddy had
any 'tendencies,' he did not sleep one wink all night.
He was sure he had slept with at least one eye open the
whole night. It appeared my little joke had not been as
funny as I had intended. But, the morning wore on and we
hit the stream. My neck remained 'un-wrung' at least for
the time being.
About mid-morning I was on a slow stretch of river with
a bend upstream to my right. I was taking my time with
the run when I noticed a fly line streaking in tight front
loops coming around the bend. I couldn't see who the caster
was, just the protruding fly line. Curious as to who was approaching
me, I paused and waited for him to show himself.
I was amazed to see it was the Judge! And he was casting
like a champion. Perfect front loops, great control, looked
like a picture in a magazine.
It seems that for some reason, things just seemed to
'come together' for him on that day and he remembered
all the casting classes. I tried to take credit for it
of course, explaining that due to no sleep the night
before, he was completely relaxed and was no longer
fighting the rod. This fell not on appreciative ears
though. He later got even with me by marrying me to
the lady I am now living with. That happened on the
banks of a trout stream a year later, but that's
another story for another time.
He is still a well-known judge in his state and my
fishing buddy went on to also become a judge in Montana.
Me, I'm still trying to teach fly fishing.
~ James Castwell