How do I live up to that title? Stay with me.
My father had two favorite pastimes besides Roller Derby that really gave him peace of mind: gardening (see earlier blog on Leo) and fishing.
As a result while growing up, I had a lot of great fishing experiences. My father was not a fly fisherman, he liked to fish from a boat. His brother Oscar was a devotee of fly casting and spent a lot of time in Oregon in some of the great fishing spots. Oscar’s son Lloyd carried on the tradition and, oddly enough, the Roller Derby Skate Company tested and developed some deep water fishing boots (but not with wheels).
So I got to accompany my Dad salmon fishing on the Columbia River (I actually got a 42 pound Chinook), muskie fishing on the Eagle River in Wisconsin (caught one and had it mounted – seems strange now), and caught a beautiful sailfish in Florida, and some beautiful and wonderful-eating rainbow trout near Crater Lake Oregon.
In later years when Leo lived in Seaside, Oregon, he found the tributaries off of the Columbia river and would spend days fishing for trout and salmon. Many of the skaters would also tell you how Leo gave them the first fishing experiences of their lives. In the early days the skaters did not make a lot of money, but they traveled everywhere (even to Cuba), had fans and all will tell you what a great life it was.
My most significant fishing experience occurred without my dad. My family spent one summer (1964) in Honolulu while Roller Derby was playing there for six weeks. We rented a house in Kahala and one thing we decided to do was to go fishing on a boat from Honolulu. Now they tell you if you want good fishing in Hawaii, you go over to the big Island; there is too much boat traffic off of Oahu to catch the real game fish. We wanted just to let my seven-year old son Steven have the experience of catching dolphin (no, you are thinking of porpoises; dolphin are beautiful blunt headed fish that run generally 7 to 15 pounds and their meat is delicious – can you say Mahi Mahi?),
So off we went about a mile out in somewhat choppy water and we were well on our way to catching our limit of dolphins and Steve was having a great time. All of a sudden my line snagged and I tried to reel in but couldn’t. I asked the captain if I had snagged on the bottom and he said it was impossible; the ocean was thousands of feet deep at that point. My line started to move and he felt I had hooked a seal (ugh!). Anyway, I kept reeling in for at least 45 minutes and the captain let out a yell: I had hooked a yellow fin tuna. Somehow we got the monster in the boat: it was about 7 feel long and weighed 220 pounds. I was shaken, this was not what I had been looking forward to. I gave the fish to the captain (today, it would be worth about $20,000 in Japan). I was listed in the fishing column of the Honolulu paper the next day as having caught the largest fish that day. On reflection, I am of course sorry that I didn’t release that fish and the other major game fish.
We took the dolphins to the Kahala Hilton and the chef made delicious mahi mahi for us.
OK, back to the title. My son Steven who was formerly the somelier at the Rainbow Room and Tavern on the Green in New York is now a private label wine producer. He called me to tell me that he had been contacted by Rebekah Stewart who owns the Brigadoon Lodge by the Blue Ridge Mountains in Clarksville, Georgia. It is located on the Soque river, one of only two private rivers in the US. (ESPN called the Brigadoon “the Augusta of fly fishing”). Steve was to help her create wines to match the quality of the Lodge and her unique idea was to have a wet fly on the bottle of Cabernet and a dry fly with the Chardonnay.
Steve sought samples from the wineries he knew in California and Rebekah and her wine-knowledgeable friends tasted wine from different vintners until the right ones were selected. You literally can buy one bottle of each in a traditional fishing creel at www.flylinewine.com; a great gift for a fishing friend. You want to stay at the Brigadoon Lodge? Go to www.brigadoonlodge.com and stay at this intimate outstanding resort where Presidents and captains of industries go to relax (surprisingly inexpensive, as is the wine). Great trout fishing, all catch and release. Now I can’t wait to try fly fishing at Brigadoon!
President and Mrs. Carter were at the lodge last week for the annual Carter Center Auction weekend and he actually caught three rainbow trout on his Flylinewine fly, and he loved the new wines!
So you see, with the Seltzers, it wasn’t just about Roller Derby. Although my next blog will be about it again as I leave for Chicago this Friday for the National Championship tournament……I will not fish in the Chicago River.
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