Ernest G. Schwiebert
On December 10, 2005 the world of flyfishing lost
one of the greatest contributors to the sport of
flyfishing. Ernest G. Schwiebert was an angler's
angler, and his efforts to enhance the sport of flyfishing
by promoting the knowledge of all aspects of the sport that he
loved are beyond measure.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
His first book, Matching the Hatch, was published
in 1955 when he was in his early 20's. While the book was published
during that period of time when flyfishing was nearly a
forgotten sport it was to prove to be the catalyst for the revival
of the renewed interest in fishing for trout with flies. The term
'matching the hatch' would become synonymous with the scientific
approach to flyfishing that would become so popular in the
coming years. While mostly devoted to mayflies it contained
significant information on stoneflies and caddis. It is interesting
that the book contains several plates with representations of natural
insects but there are no drawings of the artificial fly patterns that
he described in the text. The book contains hatching charts, numerous
fly patterns, and a discussion of stream ethics. Looking back I find
it interesting that he included a section on stream ethics at a
time when there were few anglers of any type on most streams.
Modern anglers might do well to go back and review Schwiebert's
ideas on stream ethics.
His second major book was Nymphs published in 1973.
This was a very massive undertaking, and represents one of the
greatest single works of its type in the history of angling
entomology. It included extensive illustrations whose quality
exceeded anything previously found in a book dedicated to angling
entomology. While numerous books have been published since none
have exceeded Schwiebert's detailed illustrations of the natural
insects found in this book.
Schwiebert's magnum opus was his two-volume book Trout
was published in 1978. Nearly 1,800 pages and covers everything
from the history of fly fishing to trout biology. It is a massive
encyclopedic work and unparalleled in its scope and detail.
He wrote many other books including Remembrances of Rivers
Past, 1973, Death of A Riverkeeper, 1980,
and A River for Christmas and other stories, 1988.
He wrote other less well-known books, and co-authored books with
other authors. Since his death his son has released an updated
version of Nymphs in two volumes covering mayflies
in one volume and caddis and stoneflies in the second volume.
Ernie, as his friends called him, was a remarkable man, and I
was fortunate to have made his acquaintance on several occasions
over the years. Although I would never have considered myself
an intimate friend I was amazed that every time that I saw him
that he always remembered my name. I met him for the first time
when he came to speak at the annual spring banquet of the Paul
Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited in Detroit, Michigan. It was
in the late 60's, and I was on the board of directors so I had
the privilege of sitting at the head table where he was seated.
I cannot remember his subject that evening, but I do remember
talking to him after the program. The next time our paths crossed
was in West Yellowstone, Montana in the early 70's when he came to
speak at the Montana State Trout Unlimited Banquet. I specifically
remember that he remembered my name and that we had met back in
Michigan several years earlier. Amazing!
Like all modern authors history will make the final judgment on
Ernest Schwieberts actual contribution to the furtherance of the
sport, but I am certain that when angling historians review the
sheer volume and quality of his contributions that he will rank
at the top of modern angling writers. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
From A Journal Archives