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Matt, the Mentoring Continues

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman MT

Just about every year now, my second cousin Matt visits me in Montana for a few days of fishing. Matt lives in Auburn, Alabama and has a budding career in the technology sector. His grandfather and my uncle Fred was an avid and very adept angler. Fred was my mother’s youngest brother, one of seven siblings all born or growing up in depression era Alabama. Raised in Birmingham, Fred grew up in a steel town where his older brother John and most of John’s brother-in-laws worked in the mills. He learned to fish for catfish, brim and bass from his brother John in flimsy boats on the Warrior and Coosa Rivers in the company of rough men. Although Fred to my knowledge never became an avid fly fisherman, his brother John was. As very young kid visiting Alabama in the 1950s I remember seeing these marvelous hand painted bass poppers made out of cork and feathers in John’s basement. Fred survived WW II as a B-25 flight engineer and returned to Alabama to start a life. He eventually got an engineering degree from Auburn University and had an extremely productive career with NASA and the space program in Huntsville where he lived the remainder of his life.

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Young Matt

Rocket ships may have been his day job, but fishing was something Uncle Fred loved to do. He knew where and when to find the fish—brim, crappie, catfish and his favorite “stripe”. When I was first stationed in Alabama at Maxwell Field in Montgomery in the mid-1970s, Fred always made me feel welcome and took me fishing anytime I could find my way to Huntsville. He was always teaching me about fishing and telling me stories about the good ole days, many of which I heard repeated dozens of times. When I went to Alaska in 1975, it wasn’t long before I was inviting Fred to join me there for some salmon and trout fishing. For a few short weeks, I was the teacher. When I finally returned to Alabama in 1991 his grandson Matt was now tagging along on some of our fishing trips. Matt had the makings of a fine angler from an early age because he really wanted to learn how to catch fish like his grandfather and never stopped asking questions.

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Day Trips

day trip 1- day trips start before first light
Day Trips Start Before First Light

Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Since I actually don’t live on a river anymore (I did live on a lake on the Coosa River in Alabama for 12 years), I can’t pop down to the stream for an hour or so in the morning or evening. I’ve got to make a day trip to go fishing. When relatives or visitors come for a week or two, we’ll make an overnight somewhere to save the hassle of a day trip and get more hours on our favorite waters. But by and large, most of my fishing from March through November is just a long string of day trips to my favorite rivers. Day trips don’t require a lot of planning or preparation. Indeed, different rivers or lakes, different seasons and weather may require some adjustments in fly boxes, fly rods, and clothing, but over the course of the season, these adjustments are made much like the audible in football. Wake up, survey the situation, make a decision on the destination, and grab the right gear and go.

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A Lifetime Infatuation

Michael_Vorhis 2Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, Author & Fly Fisherman, FreeFlight Publishing

There is a faded but curious family photo showing a three-year-old boy sitting on the rounded front fender of an axle-bound ’48-ish pickup truck. His little hands cradle a long stick from which hangs a piece of kite string down to the dusty back yard gravel. The little red wagon on which his siblings play rolls around behind him, but he is oblivious to their giggles, waiting with string touching the dry earth of the hilltop. He is fishing.
That was me. None of us really know why the sport of eternal optimism and eternal suspense took root so early in my heart. Was it a story told by my grandpa? I have to say I dragged a family of eight into the fascination, and to greater or lesser degrees we all remain a little transfixed to this day. That stick was the first fly rod I ever made, and despite the advent of thermo-resins and the beautiful wand I later hand-crafted and use today, the count of fly rods I’ve created has risen only a little in all the years since that proud scepter. I remember the satisfaction of sitting there on that fender, but don’t recall whether I caught anything.

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