Outta Here

Sadness and joy. Those are the emotions coming over me in waves as I write this - my last editorial - to you. First, the sadness. Rummaging through some old fishing tackle the other day, I came across an old 9-foot Fenglas FL108/8 tucked away in a closet. My father built the rod in the back of our tackle shop as an 8th-birthday present to me from him and my mom. After becoming frustrated while learning how to cast, I finally gave up and stuck the rod in a corner. It sat there for nearly four more years until I picked it up again as part of the grieving process after losing my mom well before her time. Becoming proficient enough that I could actually hope to catch something, I started seeing the fly rod for what it really is - an effective fishing tool for a number of saltwater and freshwater species - not an elitist status symbol. At the same time, that old Fenwick jogged memories of losing my father on Valentine's day four years ago - my very first day on the job with FFSW sister mag, Sport Fishing. My father was one of the best fishing buddies you could ever have. Anytime he went fishing I was allowed to go, from an early age, and his rules were simple. All I had to do was adhere to two strict tenants: no whining, and learn a new knot before each trip. I had the chance to tell my dad - by then so riddled with cancer that he couldn't sit up in bed - that I’d been named managing editor. He squeezed my hand so hard I thought he was going to break it; then he mustered enough strength to sit up, and we laughed and cried about both our lives. No apologies. I told him I'd be back to see him after the Miami Boat Show. I never got the chance. He passed away on Feb. 14, my first official day of work. But we had our moment of clarity. And now for the joy. All I've ever wanted since I was 18 was to become the editor of a magazine about fly-fishing in the salt. Before that, my only other career aspiration was becoming the editor of a major saltwater fishing magazine. By the time you finish reading this, I'll be editing FFSW sister mag Salt Water Sportsman. But I won’t be going far. Your new editor, Mike Mazur, has graciously agreed to knock me down a peg on the masthead as an editor at large. Or is that large editor? Mike is going to do a fine job, and you can expect great things from him. At least he knows (unlike me) what ocean lies off the coast of San Diego. In the short time since I figured out how to sling that buggy whip, I've had opportunity after opportunity of a lifetime: exploring the Coral Sea with friends Buddy Sowers and RT Trosset; sitting in Lefty Kreh's fly-tying room watching him tie the Deceiver; watching my friend and mentor Stu Dunn catch a sailfish from a rubber raft in the middle of the Pacific and serving as angling consultant to the Sultanate of Oman. I've enjoyed a glass of homemade Chianti with Lou Tabory and his wfie, tied flies over a cup of joe with Bob Popovics and watched my girlfriend, Julie, catch a giant dolphin on fly on Christmas Day off the west coast of Panama. All in the name of work. It goes back to what my J-school mentor Bill McKeen said on the very first day of class: "Don't ever let anybody know what you do for a living. They'll all want to do it, too." That old fly rod really got me thinking about all these things. And I'll have to admit, I cried a little bit. I'm replacing the fighting butt and fixing the broken tip on that old rod (the victim of an errant ceiling fan when I was finally tall enough to reach). Then I'm going to take it out and catch one more nice fish on it for my mom and dad before it finds its way into a well-earned place of honor among my most treasured angling artifacts. But before I do, I leave you with these parting words of advice: Buy a kid a fly rod and take them fishing. You never know where it might take them.