Writers need to read. Outdoor/fishing
writers need to fish too, but the seasons
and situations do not always allow us to
fish whenever we wish. So like many of you
I dig out a book and immerse myself in someone
Some times my recreational reading is limited to
the 'tile library' (bathroom or loo) or in airports
and such. But this week JC (my husband) had a
surgical procedure to repair a hernia and hospitals
being what they are, the scheduled time past without
JC being in the operating room and some two and a
half hours later they got him in. So I had most
of a day to read. And I did.
The book I took to the hospital was Steve Raymond's
Blue Upright. The book is about flies
and fly patterns, but different in that the origin
of the flies, how they evolved over time is also
included. The best part however, is the connection
with whomever created the fly or where Steve got
the fly - and moreover how that particular fly
evokes vivid memories of the places, anglers and
fish for him.
Steve, in the book, also does a complete inventory
of his fly boxes, which flies (and boxes) he prefers
and why. Several of his comments brought up some old
memories, flies especially I hadn't seen or heard of
Like many fly fishers we have a collection of flies.
Most of the ones not fished are in shadow box frames
on the wall. Some quite old by Carl Richards, Dave
Whitlock, Doug Swisher, Vince Marinaro, Ann Schweigert,
Pat Barnes, Will Godfrey, Don Murrey, Art Winnie, Pat
Russell, Neil Travis, Lefty Kreh and Zimmie Nolph.
There are others intended for frames as well, but
for now they are safely stowed in boxes with names
on them. Some of those names I've mentioned may
be unknown to you - friends who long passed to the
great beyond. Others were local people who had
their moment of fame in a fly they created.
There are some neat stories in just those few
flies - including my first steelhead of note,
which won an Honorable Mention in the Field
and Stream annual trophy fly rod fish contest.
I still have the framed award and the pin on one
of my fishing hats - and while it was a very neat
experience, the thing I remember most was the fly
which allowed me to catch the fish.
The fly was Zimmy Nolph's Skunk. Zimmy tied it,
gave it to me, and practically guaranteed it
would catch a 'nice one' for me. The fly as
it sits in it's case, is on a XLong streamer
hook, has a black chenille body, rib of flat
silver tinsel, tail of pheasant barbs and a
white polar bear wing. Not a trace of red
as in some of the other 'variations.'
We were fortunate to know Zimmy while he was
still active. He lived on the Pere Marquette
River and was instrumental in the 'Fly Only'
restrictions which finally were put into effect
on the P.M. He also lobbied other local
landowners with river frontage to allow fly
fishers to cross their property for river access.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Fish
and Game) erected nice wooden signs on those
properties saying access was provided by the
landowners. The whole thing was very nicely
Zimmy did guide at one time, and was a professional
fly tyer who supplied several shops with flies for
the P.M. He owned a sizeable chunk on the P.M.,
and he could sit in his living room and watch
whomever he had allowed to fish his waters and
their success (or lack of it.) He knew every
piece of brush, hole and redd. I suspect he
enjoyed watching some of us flailing away without
By the same token, no one was more pleased with
my catch than Zimmy.
Zimmy was one of the founding members of the
Pere Marquette Watershed Council - which has
done an outstanding job of river restoration and
preservation. The quality of the fishery on the
PM is a direct result of Zimmy and others like
him who had the vision and perseverance to see
it through. Zimmy passed in I believe January
of 1997, but his legacy, the Pere Marquette lives
As for the Skunk, it may have been created in
Oregon on the North Umpqua, or by the late Wes
Drain of Seattle - but in my mind the original
'Skunk' fly, came from Zimmy. ~ DLB
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