Most of you know that James Castwell has been 'out sick' lately with
broken ribs and a punctured lung. You probably don't know that I missed a day sick about a
week ago. One of the things I did on that day off was watch a tape of "It's a
Wonderful Life." You know the movie? (It's a classic. I watch it almost every year.) Jimmy
Stewart - with problems at the bank - decides he'll jump off the bridge and kill
himself - Clarence the angel rescues him. At some point, Jimmy says, " wish I was never born."
And that's when the movie gets rolling. Stewart's character finds out how many lives he's touched.
How many lives he actually changed and saved! He decides he really wants to live.
That was on a Tuesday. The next week was "The Incident" that threatened the existence
of Fly Anglers On Line (FAOL). The Incident... who's to blame, who's right, who's
wrong... the details don't matter for the purposes of this story. What matters is that
FAOL almost 'wasn't' any more.
Where would I be today if I hadn't spent so many hours in the FAOL Chat Room in the
past two years?
I wasn't here when FAOL actually started. But, it seems that I found it soon after it began.
I remember that the first night I went into the Chat Room, Al Campbell was hosting. Talarik
was there. I met Gitt online that night or on the next visit. What I remember most was how
helpful everyone was. I asked about a product that I couldn't get here at home and
immediately Al pulled out a catalog and gave me some phone numbers. Someone else
said their local shop carried it. "Bob... give him your address. He can pick one up and
send it to you," someone suggested!
Hey . . . I just met these people and they're offering this kind of help!
I became a Host in an effort to pay back some of the kindness. One night Al Campbell
mentioned that his anniversary was 'next Thursday'. (For some reason, his wife wanted
to spend time with him . . . and not online.)
If it weren't for FAOL, there are many friends I never would have made. I'm not even
counting 'internet' friends like Al, Talarik, JC and Ladyfisher to name just a few. I mean
people I've actually MET . . . in some cases, even fished with. Believe it or not, several
here in my own home town! I've met and fished with Dan. I took him out and introduced
him to his first grayling. Shared many flies and stories with Vic. Vic's a very active member
of Alaska Fly Fishers now. And there's JJ - he's 6'6" tall, has a tattoo of a
rainbow on his arm and a fly on his shoulder blade. He's a basketball player at the
The last two years I've fished with Gitt and his club members on the Russian River - 2 hours
drive from here. Gitt comes up with about 10 guys from California every year. (Next year
he's bringing Grizzly Hackle with him.) I've met his daughter and his son. His friend Jerry
cut the fly off his line and gave it to me and showed me where the silvers were holding.
(He's the out-of-towner. . . I probably should have been guiding him!) This summer,
they held the 1st Annual FFF Alaska Conclave in Anchorage. I met Fisherlady (Linda),
Rick (from PA) and 'Flytier' (Hans from Holland - yes... the guy who created the CDC
and Elk pattern!) I visited with them. Shared flies and shared the water. I showed them
moose and eagles. Linda's one of my 'best buds' on ICQ now.
I went on vacation this summer in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I fished a little and rode the roller
coasters a lot. I got lots of advice in the chat room before leaving . . . both on the fishing AND
on the coasters! On the trip I met 'Slicfoot' (Dave) and fished with 'RK/Opsrey'(Ron) and Deane.
Remember the FFF conclave I mentioned? Well, 'flyfisherman12' (Jeremy) was there. For
some reason we didn't actually meet, although we saw each other. A few weeks later, we
met on the Upper Chena River... I was wading.... he was floating by. We exchanged
greetings. Just two fishermen. It's the favorite river for both of us. We both remember
the encounter. But we still never got introduced. It took FAOL to actually 'introduce' us.
We still haven't met in person, but we will now. We plan to fish together this summer.
So, what would I do/have done if FAOL wasn't here? I'd probably spend way more time
'just' watching tv. (Instead of the 'productive' time I spend in a Chat Room . . . hmmm . . .
maybe a different line of reasoning is needed here!) My wife would probably see a lot more
of me. As much as that would interest her, she'd rather I spent time here. A commentary
on my marriage? No. A commentary on my wife - she knows the amount of entertainment
I get here! And the value of friendship.
Clarence . . .if you're listening . . . Keep an eye on the folks here at FAOL. And if anyone
ever wonders if it would be better if they were never here . . . think of all the lives they've
And everyone remember, every time you hear a bell ring, it means an angel just got their
wings. ~ Bob Fairchild
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!