At 3 a.m., while most of us are asleep, CBS news correspondent Judy Muller is leaving her home in Metuchen, N.J. By 4:10 she's in her Manhattan office preparing her four-minute radio commentary. First Line Report, usually on the day's big story. She broadcasts it every weekday at 6:25, updates as necessary until 9:25 and does on-the-hour newscasts until midday.
Muller enjoys her arduous schedule, but in her leisure time she finds happiness standing knee-deep in an out-of-the-way stream, fly-fishing. There are few things in life she enjoys more, as you will see when you read her story, By George! She's Got It, beginning on page 82.
Muller's family has been hooked on fishing for generations. Both her grandfathers spent years working the Walla Walla River near their homes in Milton-Freewater, Ore. And her father, Jack Mansfield, a retired Navy captain, sought out fishing holes near every posting from Arlington, Va., to Yokosuka, Japan. His daughter often tagged along on his fishing trips. And even now the family plans its annual reunions for spots that offer good fishing.
For many years Muller was too busy raising a family and developing her career to fish. "I got into journalism when I was home with babies," says Muller, now 40, divorced and the mother of two teenage daughters. In 1974 she started on the local beat for The Colonial News, which became The Freehold ( N.J.) Transcript. In 1976 she got a job at WHWH radio in Princeton as a part-time news anchor. In '78 she became the morning anchor at Denver's KHOW radio, then moved on to the CBS network in '81.
Three years ago Muller decided to resume fishing, and to master it as so many members of her family had. "I had always relied on other people to tell me what to do," she says. "I decided to learn how to do this myself."
She began by taking a course at the famous fly-fishing school run by Lee Wulff, 82, and his 60-year-old wife, Joan. Muller became friends with the Wulffs, and last spring, while she and her father were taking a Wulff fly-casting course, Lee offered Muller the sixth spot on an excursion to fish Atlantic salmon in New Brunswick, Canada. "My father almost fainted dead away," says Muller. "He leaned over and said, 'This is one of those invitations you cannot pass up.' "
Muller shudders at what she sees as the snobbism that has crept into fly-fishing. "You see so much expensive gadgetry dangling from the latest designer vests," she says. "My grandfathers tied their own flies, and they wore whatever worked. I like the people who go fishing to get away from pressure and status." Spoken like someone who has done just that.