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Merry Christmas

Dec 20, 2016 | Mike Lawson Christmas_Tree.jpg

As I write from my office looking out across the snowfields, frost laden cottonwood trees and mist on the Henry’s Fork I can’t help but be grateful. I’ve met some special people in my lifetime of fly fishing. What I treasure most about the people is there is no division among us. Sheralee often smiles whenever we are traveling through an airport because fly fishers stand out. You can spot them 100 yards away. We all look the same. Trout do not care who we are, what our social status is, our political views or all of the other things that seem to divide us in so many ways. I don’t think it has ever been said better than the short paragraph written in 1964 by Michigan Chief Justice John Voelker under the pen name Robert Traver. Many of you old timers can probably memorize it. It pretty much says it all. Publishing it again is our gift to you.


I have been living the dream for about as long as I can remember. Certainly most of that dream has directly involved fishing but there is more. It has been the people who share my passion. One of the hardest things about meeting and knowing so many people is when they are gone. I’ve shed many a tear for those who have passed on. In the past few months I lost three friends who share my passion.


Brad Smith also lived the dream. He fought the good fight. Thankfully he had a few extra years to continue to live his dream before he left. You could always find him either in the Grub Stake or more likely on the river casting to a rising trout or sitting on the bank waiting for a trout to rise. I never saw him without a smile on his face. Bob Jones was like Brad in many ways. He loved the people who loved what he loved. He never hesitated to help a stranger, offer advice, and give them a few flies. He was one of the guys who lit up my day whenever he walked into the shop. I could usually find him just above the log jam. He fished as long as he could. I’ll miss him greatly. Another fine man, Pat Oglesby didn’t spend so much time on the Henry’s Fork but his spirit radiated throughout the fly fishing world. He finally lost a 3 year battle with cancer. I will miss all of these guys.


I know what it is like to have an empty chair at the table on Christmas Day. My only condolence came from Gary LaFontaine the last time I spent with him 2 weeks before he died. He said, “It isn’t how long you live – it’s how you live.” He exemplified that in every way.


We live in a troubled time. Our country is divided like never before, at least during my lifetime. Yet it’s hard to argue that the Henry’s Fork and all that surrounds it, especially the people who fish it, foster real peace on earth. We’re all the same in that respect. We wear pretty much the same boring clothes, use the same gear, and spend a lot more time talking about fishing instead of fishing. It’s who we are and I for one, am thankful to be a part of it. Brad Smith, Bob Jones, Pat Oglesby, and all of the others like them have made all of us better.

Merry Christmas!