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The Gearboat Chronicles

Ted Williams – best blankety-blank fishing interview ever

Tom Farnam and I have the steelhead lending library in full swing, passing videos and magazines back and forth until the fishing really turns on. My best contribution was the latest copy of The Drake magazine. Newsstand price is, quote, “Five Bucks – $10 for bait fishermen.” I’ve laughed at that enough that it’s worth the subscription just to see that on the cover of a magazine.

Farnam returned the favor by loaning me a pile of his Wild Steelhead & Atlantic Salmon back issues. These things are wonderful. They’re about the size of a road atlas for a nice roomy format. I went right to the cover story – Baseball Great Ted Williams: As Outrageous and Colorful as Ever, on His Favorite Fish.


Volume 1, Number 2 Summer 1994

Tom has told me tales about Williams before, how he set some baseball record for hitting then hustled past the reporters hoping for interviews so he could hop a plane to get in one last day of fishing on a favorite stream before the season closed.

This writeup is one of the best things I’ve seen in print. Pretty much a transcript presented raw by Thomas R. Pero. The opening sentence goes like this: “Hell, I can tell you real simply. . . .” Pero has the good sense to stay out of the way and just let Williams talk. And, oh boy. It is colorful. Here’s a sampler, edited for people with tender eyes.

“[Blankety!] I said. ‘[Blank] . . . son of a [bleep] was THAT LONG! I got him on.’ He just sunk right down, stayed right in that slick. . . . So I just wound all the [bad word] line up and got it on my reel. . . .”

“Last year’s camera didn’t have any film in it. The other year’s camera – the guy didn’t know when to take the [bleeding] picture and we never got a picture. That’s all right. I don’t give a [hoot]. The best fish I caught in the last 10 years, I haven’t got any pictures of them. ‘Cause I’m so [blessedly] CONCERNED about getting ’em back in the WATER. You know – hurry up, hurry up, HURRY UP. You get a 30-pound fish and you hold him by the [filth, foul, filth] tail. You’re trying to hold him up. You can’t hold him. It’s kinda tough.”

It’s kinda tough to resist finding out more about this guy after beholding such an interview. It’s not just the unexpected salty language, Williams was full of interesting [things] to say so I ran him through [the] Google. Baseball Hall of Famer considered best with a bat, pretty much ever. Took time out to fight a war. Twice. WWII then Korea. Campaigned for children’s cancer research. Married models. Had his own line of outdoor equipment, sold through Sears. Serious fisherman. You know that thing where people ask who you’d want to go back in time to have lunch with? I’d put rod racks on the DeLorean and see if I could go fishing with Ted Williams.

Wallowa River update

Got out for an afternoon on the Wallowa with Mikey Baird and Cam Scott. In an increasingly depressing trend this season, I caught nothing, Cam hooked but lost a big one, up in the 30-inch range, he says (my eyes hurt from rolling), Baird got into whitefish, trout, then I watched him hook this fish immediately after I’d gone through the same water. It looks small. And it is. But . . .


. . . this fish put on a display, rocketing out of the water three times and putting on such a show that we both thought it was closer to the 20-inch range. If this fish ever encounters a bear in the woods, the bear will almost certainly back down because this fish will appear larger than it really is.

Toward the close of day we got this nice curtain closer:


And I got this interesting shot. Looks like Mike’s truck is filled with gravel but really it’s a scree field behind me reflected in the window. Pretty tricky, I know. Don’t ask why I was standing next to Mike’s truck like that.


I said don’t ask. All I can tell you is this tire belongs to me now.