Feb 8, 2012

Anchor vs Oars - A Tribute to Late Fishing Icon, Tom Helgeson

This post comes to us via local fish hound, Charlie Chambers of Hood River, Oregon.
Thank you Charlie for sharing this entertaining bit of history and helping us to recognize this influencial man!

Anchor vs Oars
Anchor Always Wins...


2011 marked the passing of a beloved icon of Midwest fly fishing, Tom Helgeson. He was instrumental in the growth of the sport in the mid west with his magazine and his regional fly fishing show. A number of anglers including myself owe a debt of gratitude to Tom for the development of our passion. The spark to the flame of my fly fishing ambition was from Mike in a small fly shop in St. Paul but Tom served to stoke that flame to a bonfire. Early in my obsession, I attended a weeklong fly fishing school hosted by Tom and a number of his colleagues in Montana. The week would encompass several days on private lakes catching huge stocked trout and then several days on the Missouri river fishing Trico and Caddis hatches. Mixed between the fishing were classes in all the foundations of our sport, chances to break bread, tell stories and do 12 ounce curls.



The private lakes on the ranch surrounded our accommodations. The trout in these lakes were monstrous deserving of call letters and they were very surface oriented. However, they clearly knew to cruise just beyond my casting distance which at the time was feeble. After dinner one evening, Tom asked if anyone would be interested in taking a drift boat for a quick nightcap of fishing on the nearest lake. Given the chance to narrow the distance to these triploid torpedoes, I jumped at the chance especially given that at the time, I had no idea how to row. Needless to say, the fishing was incredible given the combination of the proximity to the fish and the magic twilight. Tom and I fished till we could no longer see our fingertips. The only way to mark our location was by the light from the nearby bunkhouses.

Eventually we relented to the nighttime and elected to head back in. I sat on the bow and I savored the evening’s experience. After 15-20 minutes, I began to mentally question our progress in the forward direction. Of course, trying to be well mannered, I thought that it would be rude to question my host’s rowing abilities - just as one avoids being a backseat driver when someone else offers to take the wheel. My doubt increased until finally Tom spoke up and asked if it seemed like the bunkhouse lights were not getting any closer. I finally had confirmation of my suspicion. After a few moments to further assess the situation, Tom came to the realization that we had failed to pull up the anchor. Amazingly, with anchor pulled, we moved quickly to the shore.

At breakfast, Tom quickly let it be known that I had failed miserably as a navigator. In addition to putting me onto some of my first reel-screaming brown trout sipping in shallow water with their dorsal fins sticking out, I can thank Tom for several memories that will live with me for the rest of my life.

To this day, my ear to ear grin while amateurishly holding a brown trout is directly the result of Tom Helgeson.

Thanks, Tom.

1 comment :

  1. Beautifully said. Tom had a talent for drawing people into his passion, and finding the fun along the way. Nice.

    ReplyDelete

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