On June 4, 1997, 14 years ago today, I took a trip to the Deerfield River in remote Western Mass. for a solo fly fishing excursion.
I can remember arriving at my destination and seeing the bright blue early morning sky and hearing the cold water rush over the large boulders. I was in trout paradise and looking forward to spending the next four days alone in the wilderness.
I was in a secluded place in the Berkshires with no signs of human beings for miles. I was alone at last in my secret spot, or so I thought, until I heard the sound of a motorcycle.
I stopped casting and watched the top of the hill as a large man negotiated his way down the steep embankment. He had his chest waders on, but was wearing a black leather jacket and in his right hand, he carried a fly rod.
I guess I wasn’t going to be alone after all.
He found his way down to the river, and I eventually made my way over to the pool he was fishing in. He mentioned that he had been fishing the Deerfield for the past three days in another “secret spot” way out of the way and he was catching rainbow trout that were two feet long.
My warning signs immediately went off. Only in Alaska or Montana could a fly fisherman catch rainbows that big, not in Massachusetts. But I was intrigued by this guy nonetheless, so we continued to talk and fish the river.
His casting was efficient and practical, his knowledge of insects was impressive, and the more time we spent talking the more I wanted to know about his other secret Eden in the Berkshires.
I asked again to try and estimate where it might be, but he offered no specifics.
There was only one way I was going to get there. Over the rush of the river, I said, “I’ll go there with you if you want.” After a few long seconds he reeled in his line and said, “Let’s go!” I followed him on his motorcycle and he led me to the most beautiful fly fishing spot I had ever seen.
We made our way over to a sunken tree near the embankment. He handed me one of his hand tied flies off his jacket and said, “Put this on, it’s my favorite fly." He then showed me where to cast, and within minutes I was connected to a fish of a lifetime.
During the fight, he laughed and shouted directions as I landed the two-foot-long hooked jaw rainbow trout.
It was big and beautiful, with gorgeous black and green spots and it had a wonderful maroon stripe painted across the body.
We shook hands as the colorful fish lay in his green net, and I told him that I will never forget this moment and he just laughed and said, “Let’s keep this spot our little secret.”
For the next three days, we fished miles of the river together. Since that summer of ‘97, we have fished side by side in many other scenic rivers in New England. I have learned from others in the fly fishing world that Larry is one of the most accomplished anglers in the Northeast and is also one of the most kind hearted souls you could ever meet anywhere on earth.
I made friends with a great human being that weekend on the beautiful Deerfield River. And because he was kind enough to share a special secret with me, he gave me a chance to prove my loyalty and at the same time, catch a fish of a lifetime.