I had just finished setting up my camp in a remote stream valley in Potter County when I saw movement in the corner of my eye. Long before we exchanged words I knew he was a blue line kind of angler; they have a unique casting style that’s a blend of sidearm rolls and flips adapted to tucking a fly into the tight places where the speckled natives call home. “I never saw anyone camped up here before” he said when he noticed me watching him fish. There’s something about watching another angler work the water, especially one that has spent a lifetime doing it. The pace is different; relaxed yet precise and purposeful like a predator, not the hurry up and fish like hell rhythm of a younger angler. His name was Bill and he had earned the name of Mr. 60,000 almost 30,000 trout ago. At 84 years young he has maintained the score of his experience on the water since the early 1950’s. I quit counting fish more than 25 years ago, about the same time I quit smoking in favor of recording places I’ve fished rather than the results, and I’m often amused when I hear about scorecards. Bill’s rod grip told me many things about the man behind the score; a simple wand built by hand long ago with thread wraps for measuring his fish and a cork grip nearly worn in half from years of plying his stream craft. I watched him fish for a bit while he narrated his love of mountain streams and wild fish before letting him enjoy his fishing and getting on with my own. I hope someday he cracks the 100,000 trout mark and I get a chance to hear about where it happened. Till then …….
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