A Fish Bum, Again
A Fish Bum, Again
A dozen years spent mostly indoors might be about enough for this outdoorsman.
"Are you sure you want to turn your pastime into your business?" Silvio Calabi, then editor-in-chief of FR&R, asked me that question 13 years ago, when I was interviewing for the magazine's associate editor position. Back then, I was a writer and part-time college writing instructor for about eight months of each year. But from ice-out through much of the summer, I was a fish bum. In fact, I was so hard-bitten that whenever I was offered an exotic travel-writing assignment during my personal fishing season, I invariably turned it down. I was busy, at home in Maine, chasing brook trout, browns, landlocked salmon and stripers.
I saw the opportunity to work for FR&R as a gift from the gods: a way to scratch my fishing itch-often in places I never dreamed I'd visit-as well as pay the bills. And, as if that weren't enough, how could I pass up the chance to be the first person in the world to read John Gierach's latest essay?
Yes, I told Silvio, I was indeed ready to turn my passion into my business.
For almost seven years, it was my dream job. I fished all over the planet; I made friends with such brilliant anglers and creative thinkers as Gary LaFontaine and Ted Williams; I was painstakingly coached in fly-casting by such world-class experts as Joan Wulff, Floyd Franke, Bruce Richards, Al Caucci and Ted Calvert. Then, just as I was beginning to feel frustrated with the restrictions of my position, Jim Butler was promoted within the company, opening the way for me to become FR&R's top editor and bringing the dream back to life.
It's been a great six years since I became editor-in-chief. But, as Silvio was hinting at way back when, there are indeed some drawbacks to turning your passion into your livelihood. For instance, one not-so-well-kept secret of fishing-magazine editors is that the job involves a lot more time sitting in an office than it does standing in a stream. Then there's all that inevitable office stuff-meetings, budgets, spreadsheets, management issues and business pressures of many sorts.
About a year ago, it began to occur to me that a dozen years spent mostly indoors might be about enough for this outdoorsman. I've always been as excited about writing as I have about fishing, and I was starting to feel ready to spend more time in the fresh air and sunshine and, at least on rainy days, to work on another book or two. I also wanted to spend some serious time fishing my beloved but long-neglected home waters with my two fast-growing kids and some fine old friends I'd long been too busy to see much of.
Those yearnings only grew stronger over the subsequent months, and so, to make a long story short, after double-checking to make sure my family and I could really afford the change, I recently resigned. November/December was my last issue as editor-in-chief and associate publisher, and this is my final editor's note for the magazine.
The best thing about FR&R has always been its active, engaged, literate readership, and I am honored to have had you reading us all these years. It's been an exciting challenge and a great pleasure to put together a fly-fishing magazine that I thought you would both enjoy and learn from. I've also loved talking and corresponding with so many of you. Thank you all very much.
I am not saying goodbye here, friends. What I am saying is…see you on the river.