8 hours ago
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I received some sad news a week ago that my good friend and respected mentor Jack Charlton passed away from a battle with cancer.
I thought I would share the first time I met Jack over 10 years ago.
I had come back home from college for the summer and, after fishing a few of his reels for stripers back east, thought id like to meet the man behind the machine. So I called their office to see if I could schedule an appointment. After talking to Jack for a bit, we decided on a day for me to make the drive up to Burlington, WA to see how these works of art were made.
I really didn't expect to be there for very long but still set aside the entire day just in case. Good thing I did, as Jack, to my surprise, took the entire day off and not only took the time to personally walk me through the entire process from start to finish, but gave me the entire history of his reels and the philosophy of what makes a Charlton reel. Ill never forget how he took a spool he had sitting on his desk and, to show the durability of the anodization, had me take my key and try to scratch it! after wiping off the metal shavings from my key (!) , the finish was as good as new! Then he had me stand on the spool on one foot in an attempt to flex the spool. Not a budge. Needless to say, I had already been impressed by the quality of his reels, but seeing the passion behind the product, in person, was something different.
Jack was a great guy who was never too busy to talk to friends. He will be missed, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers.
Brian and Dawn Chou
In February of 2009, after having a great steelheading trip on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers, I was invited by a mutual friend to stop by Jack Charlton’s shop in Burlington, Washington. As soon as we got to the shop I was surprised as hell to find out that Jack actually knew who I was and had even read this blog. I was also impressed that Judy, Jack’s wife was also a night shift Critical Care nurse. My impression of Jack and his shop was one of wonder as I found out in more detail how he took the NASA aerospace technology and techniques learned in his previous profession and applied to them to the precision machining of his reels.
Jack was a smart, down to earth guy who loved every aspect of the sport of fly fishing. His giving nature and hospitality was a wonderful ending to a great trip to Skagit Country. After not allowing us to pay for the dinner that evening, he went on to invite me to fish with him in British Columbia during the summer. Meeting Jack for the first time that evening, I could not help but be flattered and impressed by this humble gentleman.
Jack Charlton will be greatly missed by all who knew him. His exceptional products and works of art will always be a part of fly fishing history and sought out by fishermen and collectors alike. I am proud to say I had the opportunity to spend some time with him and his family and got to get to know the man behind the reel. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Well Father's Day came a little later then expected for me this year. I spent the weekend taking care of drunks and Heroin addicts in the Emergency Department this last weekend. Great comedy, but not a Father's Day celebration by any means. With my father staying with me for the summer and having Monday off, we took my daughter Lillian to the local lake for a little fishing. As we got our stuff together she immediately went for her Yellow Echo Gecko rod. Being five years old and not the best caster in the world, you never know what she would hook with it, but regardless watching her get excited to take the fly rod out was neat to see.
Needless to say, Lillian hooked grandpa a couple times as well as a few branches, the dock, my backpack, a tackle box and just about everything near us. I have learned a lot of patience over the years and understand that getting upset with her at her age will only lead to her loosing interest in the sport. However after giving a few pointers and her not following any of them, I noticed her line move next to the dock we were fishing from. She had stripped her line next to us and the erratic movement lead to her first fish hooked and landed on her own. Not a trout but rather a small black crappie. Not an epic moment by any means in the sport of fly fishing, but an epic moment for me and a memory shared with her grandpa. The smile on her face couldn't make her daddy more proud and an awesome gift for father's day.
Though the highlight of the day for Lillian was playing with worms, Lillian also got to use a couple and landed her first stalker trout as well. She even got to take this one home and dissect. She was more interested in seeing its entrails and bones then eating it though. I got to show her salmon eggs that it was taking off other people's hooks, a worm and lots of larva. This little guy was eating well and stomach was full. We then looked at all the organs together and she even asked to see its brain. Funny as hell because I couldn't find it. I have a feeling she is going to enjoy anatomy in college way more then her old man ever did.
Monday, June 13, 2011
In the process of moving my man cave to make room for the nursery, i came across a little wooden box where i keep all my flies that have been present during a memorable time on the water for me over the years.
the rules to gain entrance to this box are simple. the fly, whether it caught a fish or not, just has to have left an impression worth remembering. why do i do this? initially, it was because im a bit of a packrat (anyone who has seen the old man cave will certainly attest to this) who has a hard time throwing things like flies away...but maybe one day, my grandkids will gather around and say "hey pops, tell us about THIS silly looking fly, or tell us about the time you had to have this fly ripped out of your ear again!"
ive often thought of how i can find a way to bottle up as many "good things" in one place, so they can be called upon when needed, and this is about as close as i can get for now...so whether its a wooden, shadow or old perrine box we use to hold our keepsakes, these little mementos can help connect a breadcrumb trail through our lifetime and fishing "careers"...and although they may not be hung from the rafters, its about as perfect of a retirement home for a fly as i could imagine.