Curt Schilling’s Last Call?

Curt SchillingWe take our Red Sox baseball seriously at, so it was big news when reports surfaced on Friday that Curt Schilling (Jack’s favorite pitcher) has a serious injury to his rotator cuff that could cause him to miss part or all of the 2008 season. These reports set off a round of speculation as to the significance of the injury and whether #38’s career is over.

Sports Illustrated reported that Schilling’s doctor insists surgery is required if Schilling is to ever pitch again, although it added that the Sox team physician disagrees and recommends a period of rehabilitation. In his blog Schilling acknowledged the issue but disputed current reports, saying he himself isn’t sure what the story is and that his doctor has not recommended surgery. On Saturday the Boston Globe reported that Schilling had just received a cortisone shot in his shoulder, the first step in a rehabilitation strategy that could aim to have him back in the lineup by the All-Star break.

After that the picture only gets murkier. In a Sports Illustrated article Schilling’s physician asserts “I think his chance of coming back to pitching with rehab or a conservative approach is zero. He might not come back after surgery, either. However, if the surgery is successful, he should be fully rehabbed by about All-Star break.” Conversely, David Altcheck, a Mets team physician consulted by the Sox and who performed rotator cuff surgery on Pedro Martinez after the 2006 season casts doubt on that assessment. In a Boston Herald article Altcheck is sourced as saying it takes a year to bounce back from rotator cuff surgery. Part of the equation is what would happen money-wise if Schilling were to miss the entire 2008 season. Most likely in that event the Red Sox would seek to void his contract.

I hope this isn’t the end for one of the greatest pitchers in the game today, although even without this injury most Sox fans probably assumed that, at age 41, this was Schilling’s last season. Certainly the Sox front office believed it, thus the one year 2008 extension deal at a much reduced salary.

Curt Schilling’s Red Sox career:

Regular Season:

2004 226 21 6 203 3.26
2005 93 8 8 87 5.69
2006 204 15 7 183 3.97
2007 151 9 8 101 3.87

Post Season:

2004 22.2 3 1 13 3.65
2007 24 3 0 16 3.00

Back from Denver

Rocky MountainsHi Everybody. Just returned from the Flyfishing Show West in Denver, where the turnout was excellent and where fishing and fun were “in the air,” with lots of people stopping by to tell me of their adventures past, present, and soon-to-be.

I always enjoy these shows since they give me an opportunity to visit with old friends and to meet new ones. I was fortunate enough to be tying next to Doug Swisher and his friend Sharon and was also able to spend some time with Dave Whitlock, Gary Borger, John Betts, AK Best, and John Gierach among others, people I don’t get to see often enough except at shows and whose company I always enjoy.

Also had a chance to pick up some great flytying materials; necks from Bill Keogh and some new and interesting materials from Doug Swisher and also from Gary Borger, enough to keep me in experimental material for some time to come. You’ll probably be seeing some of this material incorporated into some of my fly patterns before too long.

I gave two slide presentations at the show on “Tigerfishing on the Zambezi,” which were well-attended and well-received and invited many interesting questions, including one posed by strange-looking gent who asked me why there weren’t more elephants in Colorado? Didn’t have an answer to that one but maybe one of you can help me out here. If I can discover what mental institution he’s currently residing in I’ll pass it along.

I’d like thank everybody who stopped by my tying area and bought flies, books, and materials. Due to airline restrictions I wasn’t able to bring a lot of stuff with me and I apologize for running out of some items early in the show. If there’s anything you wanted but I didn’t have you can always order whatever it is from my website.

Other Upcoming Flyfishing Shows I’ll be appearing at:

Flyfishing Show East, Marlboro, MA January 18, 19, 20
Flyfishing Show East, Somerset, NJ January 25, 26, 27

If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello. Till the next time, Happy Fishing!

Happy New Year!

jgfirsttigerfish.jpgLet’s make 2008 the best year yet, a year to remember. And to start it all off it’s hard to beat this “Thought for the Day”:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Wise words, very wise. I know that I’m going to do my best to turn my dreams into a reality; how about you?

Flytying in Iraq

Iraqi Palace LakeIt was December 30th when I sat down here at the computer to write about my friend Tim Didas (see his blog comment of a few days ago), who’s on his second–or is it his third?- tour of duty in Iraq. Can’t remember but it’s been a long time in any case. It’s now early in the morning of the 31st, New Year’s Eve day, and I’m still looking for words.

I often think about Tim and about all the turmoil over there, the dangers, and all the responsibilities and concerns that he must have (he’s a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corps in charge of a battalion) and how, despite all this he still finds and takes the time to get together with his chaplain one night a week to tie flies, making do with whatever materials come to hand.

Not long ago Tim wrote me that there were a couple of ponds on his camp grounds, with some sizeable fish in them. He didn’t say what they were or that he’d had the time to fish for them but he did tell me that he saw what looked like a mayfly hatch in one of the ponds and after some doing he managed to capture one of these insects. Said it was about a #16, and “like everything else over here, kind of a sandy color. It looked like a Light Cahill that had been sitting on a shelf gathering dust.”

If you can conjure up in your mind any one of the violent images of the war in Iraq that you often see on television and juxtapose this with an image of a young buzzcut Marine sitting down in battle fatigues to tie up a delicate mayfly imitation or chasing down a mayfly that had just hatched you can’t help but be forcibly struck by these sharp and powerfully contrasting images of war and of peace. And you can’t help but be thankful that we have someone like Tim “over there” serving his country–and ours–so well. And hope also that he returns home safely–and soon.

And soon it will be too. I think he has only a few months left before he rotates back to the States. And when he does he’ll probably retire, after 26 or 27 years in the Marines, and return to his home state of New York, where, if I know Tim, the trout had better be on the lookout, especially when he shows them some of those “sure-to-catch ’em” flies that he’s been tying over there in Iraq.

I checked out Curt Schilling’s blog earlier today–great blog, by the way–— and came across this video. When you watch it, imagine that one of those returning is Tim. And include him in your thoughts with a hearty Welcome Home!

On the Road–and Off!

jg1975Taking a break from tying the other night I ran across this photo, taken in 1975 on my annual cross country trip from Boston to Montana. It was shot in a junkyard somewhere in Wisconsin (Janesville comes to mind), one of several I paid a visit to on my way West that summer. If it wasn’t one part breaking down in that rusty old Ford Econoline van, it was another. This time, I believe, it was the steering mechanism or shaft. I remember only that the steering wheel became disconnected from the shaft while I was driving. Same with the gear shift lever, too. Ah, well, it was a long time ago.

Looking at the photo brings back memories of a time when I gave no thought to driving across country with only a few hundred dollars to my name in a vehicle that was destined to die on the road. And maybe me with it. I had only one thought in mind, though: get to Montana SOMEHOW. Trouble along the way seemed part of the deal.

And trouble there was on that trip. This was only the first visit to a junkyard or mechanic. When the problem with the steering was fixed I headed West again. Outside Minneapolis I smelled smoke–and soon saw–and felt–flames coming from beneath my driver’s seat. Seems the metal seat frame had come in contact with the battery. Time to abandon ship. I gathered up my cat–by now scared out of his mind and wanting to scratch–and handed him to the friend who was travelling with me. Luckily I found the small fire extinguisher I’d bought at a yard sale and put out the fire. Not all that much damage, really, just to the seat and the battery and a few wires. Oh, yeah, and also to my face from the cat scratches.

A few days later the problems were fixed and I was on my way again. It was smooth sailing until the Black Hills of South Dakota where I developed a leak in my rusted-out gas tank which I solved by stopping up the hole with Dentine gum.

The problem with the van, though, was only a small part of my stay in that Black Hills campground. There was another problem, this time with my cat, Merlin, a Russian Blue, a beautiful cat that a few years before had strayed away from his owners one winter day and had found a home with me. I really loved that cat; he was a great travel companion and by then had spent three summers in Montana with me, camping out and following me as I fished the streams and rivers.

My friend and I had planned to spend only one night at the campground but in the morning when it was time to leave, there was no sign of Merlin. I looked all over the campground, asked all the campers if they’d seen him.No one had. I was devastated! He was my buddy–and I cared for him a lot more than I did my friend, who was begging me to leave (his vacation time was running low). I couldn’t just leave Merlin there and told my friend that we were going to stay until I found him. I almost lost my friend–but, happy to say, I did find the cat.

After making one last round among the campers and the campsite, I met a man who said that the night before he had heard a great commotion up in the trees outside his tent, sounds like a cat yowling. He stepped outside to investigate and upon looking up he saw what he thought was a great horned owl taking off and what looked like a cat dropping to the ground. This was hopeful, but only sort of. Where was the cat now? I called and called but no Merlin. I finally gave up and went to my tent and slept, thinking that I’d get up at first light and try again. Around four in the morning I heard a cat’s cry. It was Merlin. I jumped out of my sleeping bag, opened the tent flap and looked outside. In the moonlight I could see him crawling towards the tent, as close to the ground as he could get, heading “home.”

Merlin had indeed been picked up by the owl. He had two holes in his back where the owl’s talons had pierced the skin. Fortunately the owl hadn’t broken his spine and the holes healed up before we made it to Yellowstone. In case you’re wondering, Merlin lived to make eight more trips with me to Montana but I noticed that he was much more reluctant to wander around at night than he used to be.

We left South Dakota that morning and made it as far as the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming without a problem–that is until we had to climb one of those mountains. Seemed the timing mechanism had to be re-set for the higher altitudes. Found this out when I had to back down a mountain road that the van couldn’t quite make. Live and learn.

Finally made it to Yellowstone after seventeen days on the road. My friend was kind of upset, since he had only three weeks of vacation and had used up most of it visiting junk yards and mechanics or looking for a cat. Can’t blame him, really.

When you look at the photo you may notice that there are a number of tires on the roof of the van. This is because every time I visited a junk yard I would buy up almost any used tire that would fit the tire mount. Didn’t matter if the tires were fifteen inch or fourteen inch or whatever they were; as long as the holes on the tire frame matched what were on the mount I’d buy them. Cheaper than new tires. So what if they wobbled a bit. Didn’t bother me. As long as they’d last the summer–and maybe the trip home.

Well, they never did last the trip home. Ever the optimist, I didn’t know that the days of this Ford Econoline van were numbered. I should have realized it when, towards the end of summer I headed west to visit my friend Bob in LA. I was driving west of Elko, Nevada when, much to my surprise, I saw a tire rolling down the highway just in front of me. At about the same moment my front end collapsed like a wounded elk and I realized it was my front right tire that was rolling down the highway. I skidded to a stop and got out to look further into this problem. Now you’d think by this time, being the owner of a mechanic’s dream, that I’d know a lot about cars, but I really didn’t (still don’t) but I could see from a quick examination of the wheel well that the number of studs required to hold a wheel to the rest of the frame weren’t there. Apparently most of the studs had crystallized and snapped and the other nuts had come loose, which led, I guess, to the sudden departure of the tire. What to do?

The first thing needed seemed to be to recover the missing wheel. Not an easy thing, it turned out. If you’ve ever driven west out of Elko you know that it’s a pretty straight road, goes on for miles without a turn. I finally found the tire just off the side of the road after walking along the highway for about half a mile. Nothing to do now but roll it back to the van and take it from there. It was a long walk, I can tell you that. Hot, too, as I recall.

Back at the van, I jacked up the front end and mounted the wheel onto the two remaining studs, tightened the bolts, and headed back to Elko. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven a car whose tire is held on by only two bolts but I don’t recommend it. The van wobbled from side to side as I drove along the highway at about ten miles an hour until I finally exhaled the breath I was holding and pulled into the next garage I saw. Just my luck, it was closed and wouldn’t be open until Monday (this was Saturday night). There were no other garages open either I soon found out and so I now had a day or so to explore Elko (nice town but I wouldn’t want to live there).

On the road again on Monday–after being fitted with new studs–I made it to LA without any major problems–if you don’t count the fact that the van now didn’t go much more than about twenty miles an hour without overheating. Seems it now needed a new head gasket. This proved to be the final straw and so I decided to sell it. But who would buy it? There’s no Museum of Junk Cars that I know of but after a few calls I did find a junk dealer in LA who said that if I could drive it in he’d give me seventy-five dollars. Seventy-five dollars was exactly the cost of a flight from LA to West Yellowstone, and having no hope of a better offer I headed off in search of the junk dealer. The van actually made it to the junk dealer but not before I was cited by a California state trooper for driving too slow on the Santa Monica Freeway. The minimum speed there is thirty miles an hour. Which to this day I think is very unfair since according to my speedometer I was doing twenty-five.

5 Places to Flyfish Before I Die

I was at Barnes & Noble the other day to pick up a new book of Sunday Times crossword puzzles and while I was walking around I was amazed at how many books there are whose titles invite you to do SOMETHING before you die. Just a few titles: 1001 Places to Visit Before You Die; 50 Great Meals to Eat Before You Die; 50 Mountains to Climb Before You Die; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die; 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die, etc. I thought, “Man, if I were in marketing, I’d make sure that every funeral home in the country has copies of these books for sale.” It’d be a natural setting; they’d sell like hotcakes–surely better than Mary Roach’s Stiff, a delightful, fascinating, but somewhat morbid book about what happens to bodies after they die.

Anyhow, in addition to the books mentioned above there was also one by Chris Santella called 50 Places to Flyfish Before You Die. In it various angling personalities divulge their particular pre-death wishes and invite you to fantasize about your own. Which is sort of the point of this particular post.

Now, I don’t plan on dying any time soon (knock on wood) but with my 65th birthday coming up in a few days (on December 7 by the way; mark the date) I can’t help but think it’ll probably be within the next thirty years. So where are some of the places I simply MUST fish before that Grim Reaper shows up at my door and asks to borrow a scythe-sharpener? I’ve been to Africa, New Zealand, Europe, Central America, and all over the Caribbean as well as the American West, and I’d dearly love to fish these places many times in the coming years–and plan to–but where else? Trying to whittle down to a manageable number all the places I’d like to fish, say 5 for now, is a bit difficult, but I suppose it’s a way of prioritizing and so here goes…


I’d love to fish Cuba. Not as it is now, with Castro still in power, but a free Cuba, where I could just wander at will and seek out monster bass in some of the inland lakes or fish the flats for bonefish and tarpon. Just the thought of it makes me want to crack open the Teach Yourself Spanish book that I bought a few years ago and never read.

The Seychelles

About a thousand miles off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles intrigue me no end, not least of all because they’re so remote. I can picture myself kayaking around the different islands for a month or more, fishing on my own, exploring, lost to space and time.

Argentina–Tierra del Fuego

I’d love to bum around these places for a month or two, showing up in the just right place at just the right time.

Nepal and Bhutan

These places have always interested me; probably because they’re so remote and I don’t know many people who have fished there. But I’ve heard some interesting things about the trout fishing there among the mountains. Might as well go to Tibet also while I’m over that way. See if I can find Shangri-La.

The Australian Coast

I’ve been to Australia once (in 1965)–on leave from the US Air Force–but never had the chance to fish. I’d like to take a couple of months and wander along the coast, maybe even taking in the Great Barrier Reef, checking out all the “hot spots” for barramundi, trevally, etc. Maybe even learning how to speak “Strine.”

Well, there it is: my list, my 5 Places to Fish Before I Die. What are yours?

Orders for Individual Flies

santa.jpgJust taking a much-needed break from flytying. Although I’ve been tying mostly simple (and larger) flies this afternoon– Soft Hackle Streamers and bonefish flies–my back and eyes need a bit of a rest.

Since I sent out my last newsletter a week or so ago I’ve been getting lots of orders, mostly for selections, which people are often giving for Christmas or as gifts to themselves, but also for relatively large orders of individual flies (i.e. one of this, one of that, one of another). While sets are easy to prepare and to a certain extent anticipate, the orders for individual flies are not.

I’d like to point out here that I keep relatively few flies “in stock”–usually just the most popular patterns and sizes– and when I get an order requesting one of this, one of that, etc., I often cannot fill the order as quickly as I can an order for a selection of flies. As you may guess, it’s very time-consuming to go from one material to another, one style to another, one pattern to another. I often put these orders on the “back burner” until I have time to work on them. So I’d like to suggest here that if your order is for multiple “single” flies that you be a bit patient with me, especially at this busy time of year.

As most of you know, I personally tie all the flies offered on my website; they’re not mass-produced somewhere over in Asia or Africa (as so many commercially available flies are these days). There’s only one of me to do all the tying. I’m very meticulous and don’t cut corners and, as a result, I’m really not a very fast tyer. On a good day I can tie maybe only four dozen flies; most days it’s just two or three dozen. I wish it were otherwise but time is beginning to take its toll, it seems, and I’m slowing down a bit.

I do my best to fill all orders as quickly as I can but, again, I ask you to be a bit patient if you’re ordering multiple “singles.”

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I’m thankful for many things–good friends, good fishing, good times, etc.– I’m extremely thankful that Mike Lowell has re-signed with the Red Sox–but most of all, I’m thankful for all of the support you–my customers–have given me over the past year.

I hope that your Thanksgiving will be as full of things to be thankful for as mine will be.

Welcome to Roccus Writing!

renoHi everybody! Jack’s webmaster, Mike, here. And welcome to Jack’s blog. This is a new thing we’re trying, a place to put random bits and pieces that don’t warrant a few blown article: tips, product reviews, stories, fishing reports, pictures, jokes…really, whatever comes to mind. We hope you enjoy it. Please do make liberal use of the Comments link at the bottom of each post. Right now we don’t require a login to post a comment and all comments are displayed immediately without a waiting period. Hopefully it can stay that way, although if spammers become an issue we may have to make a few tweaks.

In conjunction with adding the blog, another thing we’ve done is deep-six the old message board. It never really generated much traffic and honestly, unlike me, Jack himself just isn’t a message board type of guy. We expect this blog format to be a more dynamic and interesting forum for discussion. Hope you like it. To use a Jack phrase, it should be a lot of fun.

So that this initial post isn’t totally devoid of fishing-related content, here’s a…

Cannibal Striper Report

Hugo Williams recently sent us some fantastic photos of a beauty bass he caught when it nailed a smaller one he already had on the hook. You hear about stuff like this from time to time, but nothing beats a first-hand report. Hugo wrote:

“I caught this striped bass, 43 inches long, 25 inch girth, estimated at 33.5 pounds , this morning – on a fly – although I was technically (inadvertently) livelining a smaller striper. I hooked about a 22 inch fish and then this big girl ate it. You can see the tail sticking out of her throat! Very exciting and my biggest striper ever. She swam away happily after being revived.”

Way to go, Hugo! And yes, I am jealous: sickly, despressedly, angrily, “why doesn’t this happen to me” jealous. I hate you, dude. Watch out for me in parking lots. Click the thumbnails below to view at full size. In the first photo you can actually see the tail of the smaller bass sticking out of big momma’s gullet.

Here’s the part I can’t figure out. Hugo, how did you get the fly out?

Cannibal Striper 2 Cannibal Striper 1