Fly fishing here in Alberta, Canada is about as good now as it was when my father first took me as a young boy, 35 years ago. My dad was my fishing partner for all of my life, but sadly he got very sick and that was the end of his fishing days. Fishing was never the same after that, as for 2 years I walked the backwoods and cut lines alone, and I caught my share of trout, but something was missing. I finally decided that I would have to find someone to share this experience with me, someone who would enjoy this as much as I did.
Over the next two years I fished off and on with 10 different partners and came to the conclusion that I would never find anyone that enjoyed fly fishing as much as I did. I was totally convinced that I would never find anyone that would walk the remote creeks and rivers all day long without complaint, and sit by the campfire long after we should have crawled into our sleeping bags. My brother came out to fish with me one day and brought along a friend of his by the name of Zuk. Now this guy was green as grass when it came to fly-fishing. Zuk fished the day with us and I don’t recall him catching anything more than rocks, and he lost all his hooks, and a dozen of the hooks I gave to him. Later that evening we started a small fire along the river we were fishing and I fried a couple of trout that my brother and I had caught. After we had finished eating we ended up sitting around the campfire long into the night, talking about the events of the day and poking fun at Zuk. The only comment Zuk had about the day was that he had never had this much fun fishing before, and he was wondering if he would be able to do this again. We were in the early days of September, 1994, and I thought we would be able to do one more trip, but the weather changed to early snow and we never did get out again that year.
The following spring I decided to give Zuk a call and we arranged a five-day trip together in September. After months of planning, the big day was here, and we packed my truck and headed out on the four-hour drive. I could see that he was as excited as I was and when we arrived I don’t ever recall setting up camp in such timely fashion. We got geared up and spent the whole day fishing, and that evening, sitting by the campfire, Zuk’s only question was why I caught all the fish and he couldn’t catch any. We talked about fishing long into the night and I told him many little tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years. He sat in silence nodding his head. The next morning we arose with the sun and headed out for a long day of fishing, and as I watched him fishing and I could see that what I had told him the previous night had not been in vain. Zuk caught several fish that day and he was amazed at his good luck, that night by the firelight we talked about what he had learned that day. In all my years of fly fishing I have never seen anyone that could be so absorbed with every little detail he was told and still be able to store it in his memory, never to forget.
We have been fishing partners for 11 years now, and I have to always been at my best game when it comes to fishing for fear that he will show me up, as he has done so many times in the past few years. The first few years we fished together at some of the more popular spots, where there was usually several other fishermen, it was normal for at least one or two of them to come over and ask what I was doing different that allowed me to catch more fish than they could. As the years have slowly gone by and people wander over to us looking for advice, its not unusual for them to direct their questions at Zuk, and you know for some reason I feel good about that. This story is not about my abilities as a fly fishing teacher, this story is about an exceptional fishing partner who had the ability to learn, and teach himself, and in doing so helped make me a better fisherman also.
Good luck and tight lines.