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the world's best
Russell Chatham
December 02, 1974
BILL SCHAADT IS A SIGN PAINTER, BUT HIS TRUE ART IS DISPLAYED ON THE RIVERS OF THE WEST, WHERE HE WIELDS A FLY ROD LIKE NO MAN ALIVE
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December 02, 1974

The World's Best

BILL SCHAADT IS A SIGN PAINTER, BUT HIS TRUE ART IS DISPLAYED ON THE RIVERS OF THE WEST, WHERE HE WIELDS A FLY ROD LIKE NO MAN ALIVE

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Finally the line snagged, so I took the boat far back into the corner, and the line came free with the fish still on. I stepped out of the boat and onto a tiny outcropping just large enough for my feet. Then I turned to see the boat drifting away, leaving me stranded.

The morning sun slanted into the clear water where I watched my salmon twisting far below. He looked about six inches long. As I worked him up he became a foot long, then two, three and finally close to four, wallowing at my feet. But now I was in more trouble. If I leaned over, my backside would hit the wall and I would be swimming in the Smith. All I could do was reach sideways and grab. I was caught by my salmon.

"What the hell are you doing over there?" Schaadt shouted.

Knowing he would have to help me, I was mortified. Asking Bill Schaadt to stop fishing was unthinkable, but I couldn't move a muscle.

"I'm stuck," I said.

"Be right over." He laughed.

He took my 45-pound fish into his boat with a powerful sweep and I toppled in beside it. We retrieved my boat and started fishing again.

After a while he looked at me and said, "If you hook another one, take it to the beach."

Angling is not really a competitive sport. In fishing contests and tournaments the winners never prove themselves to be the best fishermen. And what does it matter who the best fisherman is, and how could this be determined if it were important? Most anglers who place a high value on their activity are contemptuous of the competitive approach and look upon the "experts" with grave suspicion. Serious angling attracts an inordinate number of boobs. The reason could be that it is entirely possible to become widely known as an authority strictly on the basis of fiction, luck or hearsay.

It may be accurate to say that if golf were to be likened to fishing, the hole would have to be a living thing with an appetite and a temperament that varied widely from green to green and course to course. The golfer would then try to tempt the hole to accept his ball by perhaps alternately shooting a MacGregor Tourney, Titleist or Dunlop Maxfli. It would often turn out that no matter how crafty the golfer, the hole might simply eye the ball suspiciously, then sidle away. Or the hole might even charge from the green into the rough, root around in the underbrush and grab the ball, whereupon the most inept player would have shot a hole in one. And some holes might gain a reputation for being especially difficult, as in fly-fishing for permit, and would be eagerly sought after by a certain class of golfer interested in esthetics and hardship no matter how high a score they shot.

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