My Start in Fly Fishing

by Bill Wofford

How did you get started fly fishing? Why did you try it in the first place? Let me tell you about my introduction to this sport and some of the events since then.

Going back to 1961 my company sent me to Bitburg Germany, a small country village where there was an American air base flying the aircraft that we supplied some of the electronics. This town was founded by the Romans during the heyday of the Roman Empire. It was my job to teach the pilots how to use the equipment and to teach the technicians how to maintain it. Several days into my stay there I met the wing commander who started the conversation with 'do you fly fish?' Hell I didn't even know what he was talking about, and said no but I would like to learn. From there we talked airplanes and the role of the American Air Force in the area.

Later during a tour of the village, I went into a store and found a bamboo fly rod, a reel, line, tippets and some flies. Seeing the novice in front of him he was only too happy to help me select the necessary equipment, for a fee of course.

It turns out that my land lord was the local Burgamiester who owned a plot of land with a small trout stream running through it. Of course I had to show him my recent purchase. Nodding in grandfatherly agreement to my purchase, he invited me out to his place that Saturday for a day of fishing. His patience was remarkable as he began to teach, I am sure that he must have thought that this stupid Americanar must be as thick as two boards. I did manage to catch one trout that day and from that time on I was hooked.

Time went on and as the years passed I continued to fish when ever the opportunity presented itself.

The company continued to send me to exciting places such as North Africa, not much fishable waters in North Africa though, many more stateside bases and then in 1965 my boss decided that I need to expand my horizons by going to Taklie, Thailand for more of the same type of work. One weekend during my R&R ventures, I found my self touring the sights of Bangkok where I found my second bamboo rod. I couldn't help it, it said, buy me! And I did.

I began fishing the waters in and around Taklie, but it was mostly rice canals and the one river about 15 kilometers from the base. One day while fishing this river and catching some really small fish, I noticed that I had an audience of several small children, all wondering what this 'round eyed dude' was doing throwing dinner back into the water. Upon the next catch, I offered it to a young boy. He grabbed it and ran back to his village not too far from where I was fishing. That was all it took, from that point on I had a ready market for my catch. It was really fun for me, but for them it was a meal. Fish and rice can be quite good when washed down with the local beer.

Over the next two years I spent many days on that part of the river fishing and meeting the local villagers. I was even invited to their homes for dinner, a real treat and honor for me.

I left there in the fall of '67 and returned to my company headquarters in upstate New York. It wasn't too long before I was headed to Seattle and learn about a different style of fishing. I met the chief engineer for the SST program and became good friends with him. He invited me to go fishing with him one Saturday morning. Driving east of Seattle through some absolutely beautiful country along some long forgotten roads, logging roads to be specific, we finally stopped. He said this is it. Where I said, seeing nothing but tall trees and not much else. We then hiked up this trail for a couple of hours to this really remote alpine lake. I think we were the only two people who had been there in years. No beer cans, pampers, soda cans, cups, nothing, just beauty and silence surrounding your ever being. What a delight.

We fished and marveled at the shear beauty of the area. No I don't think I could ever find my way back there, but in the ensuing years, by memories of that place remains forever etched in my mind.

Years passed and more opportunities to fish have presented itself, each as memorable as the last, some even rank as exceptional. However when I reflect upon all my fishing events, I am fortunate to have had the experience of fishing with great friends. To paraphrase an old saying, "a stranger is only a friend whom I have yet to meet." And I have met many friends upon the waters, fishing for fish, but bagging a friend in the process.

This brings me to the present. Living in central Texas and fishing the beautiful clear waters we have here in this part of the state. Fishing with the guys from the Central Texas Fly Fishers and to watch it grow has been a shear delight to me. Each time I go fishing I am happy to just catch one, two is great, but more than that is a bonus.

Now you know how and why I fly fish, I would love to read about some of your reasons for taking it up.

Note: Bill Wofford is an original member of CTFF and fills many roles in our organization.

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