As I mentioned in an earlier email to the club, Steve Raymond was selected for induction into the American Museum of Fly Fishing's Hall of Fame. This is a well-deserved recognition of a man who has shared his love of fly fishing with untold numbers of Northwest (and beyond) fly fishers, both through face-to-face contact and through his prolific writing. Please offer your congratulations to Steve when you next see him.
Steve has been kind enough to share the words he prepared for his induction ceremony. Here they are:
"These are my words but this is not my voice; instead, my dear friend Paul Schullery is speaking for me. I can’t be here in person because the infirmities of old age and tenuous health make it impossible for me to travel, so Paul, who also very graciously nominated me for this honor, volunteered to read my remarks. Needless to say, I am deeply grateful to Paul for both nominating and standing in for me. I suppose that also entitles him to have the last word if he chooses.
"Becoming a member of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame is an honor I neither sought nor ever expected, and now I can scarcely believe it is happening. I feel as if I am about to start wading in the footsteps of giants, and I’m not at all certain I belong in such company. But I feel very humbled to receive this honor.
"I have been exceedingly fortunate in my fishing life. I was born when there was still plenty of good fishing in my native Pacific Northwest, and my mother and father were both fly fishers, which was unusual at the time. They saw to it that a fly rod was placed in my hands when I was very young, which made it possible for me to enjoy a longer fly-fishing life than most people are allotted. I also was born at a time that allowed me later to become friends with three of the great pioneers of Northwest fly fishing—Enos Bradner, Letcher Lambuth and Ralph Wahl. They became my mentors and taught me many of the secrets of fishing for trout, steelhead and Pacific salmon, the intricacies of rod building and fly tying, and much about the lore and traditions of Northwest fly fishing.
"As a young man I also fell under the lasting influence and inspiration of the works of Roderick Haig-Brown, whose books I found in my father’s fishing library. From them I learned the ethics of fly fishing and much of its lore, and later became friends with the man who wrote them.
"At age 23 I married Joan Zimmerman, a strong and lovely woman who shared and still shares my love for the outdoors. She became an excellent fly fisher in her own right and we fished together until our children came, when she took on most of the duties of looking after them. Now we have been married 59 years and counting, and it is thanks to Joan’s sacrifice and devotion that my fishing and writing lives have been possible. I truly think there should also be a hall of fame for the wives of fly anglers.
"In addition to fishing and writing, I’ve served my time in the trenches of the endless war to preserve our fisheries resources and heritage, as I suspect many of you have. Those experiences were often frustrating, but I never thought the time unwisely spent, for I learned much about the quirks of human nature and the arts of negotiation. If abundant patience is required to become a successful angler, I think equal patience is necessary to defend the sport.
"Twenty years ago, after I retired from a long newspaper career, Joan and I moved to our present home on Whidbey Island in northern Puget Sound, where I became a member of a resilient little band known as the Whidbey Island Fly Fishing Club, from which I now bring you greetings. Our island is a happy place; since we are surrounded by water, we can fish in any direction we want, although that doesn’t necessarily mean we always catch anything. However, we do appreciate the abundant casting room.
"I’ve found that an island also is a peaceful place to write, and since moving there I’ve written six more books to go with an equal number written earlier. Writing, for me, has been almost as satisfying as fishing—I said ALMOST—and it always pleases me to hear from someone who has enjoyed or gained insight from my words. In most of my books I have tried to convey the awe and privilege I have always felt while fishing for beautiful wild fish in beautiful wild places, and it’s my fond hope those accounts have inspired others to seek similar experiences.
"In one of my early books I wrote that “the best friendships are those made along rivers.” It was, I suppose, an audacious thing for a young writer to say, but now, from the perspective of old age, I firmly believe it was and still is the truth. In addition to all its other wonderful rewards, fly fishing has the usually unheralded virtue of leading us into the greatest friendships of our lives, and I sincerely hope that will always be so.
"With that thought, and my profound thanks for the honor you have bestowed upon me, and to Paul for representing me, I will now take my leave. I wish you all a fishing life as long as mine, and I hope your casts will always fall on generous waters."
Congratulations, again, Steve. The club and we individuals are honored to have you with us.