- Montana Backcountry
- Stripers in the Surf
- Snook at Night
- Redfish at Dawn
- Oregon Steel
- Alaskan Coho
- Henry’s Fork
- San Juan
- and a Very Scary Fly Tyer
Stiff keys moved toward the carriage like an old man lifting his arthritic knees up a flight of stairs. They rose once, twice and, with effort, three times. A weathered and worn ribbon, now more leather than cloth, slowly began to cough up faint traces of ink with each succeeding stroke. And with each erratic clack, Ray Bergman’s 1912 Travel Corona, Model 3 typewriter woke reluctantly from a forty-year slumber.
The old typewriter came to me by way of my college roommate, Scott Wagner. He stumbled upon it while cleaning out his parent’s closet a few months ago. Scott remembered that it was a special typewriter passed down to his mother from her mother, Isabelle Bergman Ritchings. Scott’s grandmother was Ray Bergman’s sister. Ray Bergman being one of America’s most revered outdoor writers, the author of Trout (the consummate bible of trout fishing) and the first editor of Outdoor Life magazine.
1942 - 2009
I’m sitting now, on one of the first mornings of the New Year, in a messy, stinky pile of marabou feathers and raccoon skins that nearly canvas the frigid wood floor of my tying room. It’s only ten a.m., and I’ve sneezed at least a couple dozen times by now, and my fleecy home office uniform is flecked with bits of moth-chewed feathers and finely shredded Mylar, and I’m wondering if my house can really afford to smell any more like naphthalene and stale nicotine than it did before I inherited this feather and fur explosion.
I met Jack Gartside, unbeknownst to him, when I was fifteen on a sleety Saturday afternoon in Hamden, Connecticut. He was making some white and pink Soft Hackle Streamers at a mid-winter fly-tying event held by the Housatonic Fly Fisherman’s Association, and I was completely mesmerized by the simple yet elegant design of his funky streamer and the grace with which he constructed it. I had him sign his page in Judith Dunham’s The Art of the Trout Fly, and I nestled between the pages one of his dyed-pink mallard breast feathers that carpeted the floor around his feet. I remember thinking to myself that this dude was, uh…different.
- He regularly casts 80 to 100 feet, with no accuracy whatsoever.
- He doesn’t seem to think it’s in any way weird to fish in the dark, all night, every night, sometimes for weeks at a time.
- He thinks a 1/0 hook is small.
- He assumes that the hot chicks at Lighthouse Beach are checking him out because he’s an attractive, rugged outdoorsman, when they’re actually wondering why the trippy dude with the fishing pole is wearing a dishpan around his waist.
- He appears to hate bluefish more than any human has ever hated another living thing.
- He frequently uses a hundred-thousand-dollar, five-thousand-pound boat to catch a 20-ounce fish.
- He seems to enjoy fishing in areas with jumbo jet exhaust, Ferris wheels, power plants, the monstrous wakes of high-speed ferries, and what seems like every center-console boat ever produced since the dawn of time.
- The Been-There-Done-That Guy
He is a walking, yammering Wikipedia of guides, lodges, rivers, oceans, lakes and fish. He’s the best caster he’s ever met. He sets up his vice on the bar during happy hour and forces you to notice his extraordinary tying skills. He owns three obscure IGFA records and is working on six more that no one will care about. He’ll ask you a question about fishing just so he can cut you off in mid-reply and answer it himself. He is, quite possibly, the most uninteresting man in the world.
An excerpt from the winter/spring issue—on shelves now.
April rains are metaphysical fertilizers that pollinate your inner wuss, thus giving life to an emotional suckathon. This can threaten to close down winter steelhead season. Yet, despite few fresh upriver fish, with even fewer windows of fishable conditions, and with wet campfires that seldom aspire to more than smoke, it'd be criminal to deny April its due.