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While Adams openly admits he is an occasional follower of the other fellow's luck, more often it is he who is followed. His ethic in this case is the Golden Rule, but with two exceptions. Both are secret, one-boat striper holes that exist over small shrimp beds. Any guest he takes to these must swear himself to silence.
One September Saturday in 1951, Adams felt the Fishfinder was being spied upon through binoculars as they fished a secret spot. When he returned on Sunday he found his fears confirmed. "Success of day before attracted at least a hundred boats," he wrote testily in his log. "Thick as flies."
Besides his brother Emil, a favored companion with whom Adams habitually exchanges fish secrets, is Dr. Charles Pierre Mathe, another expert angler and one of the West's most distinguished surgeons. This latter skill makes him invaluable for filleting a sardine for bait or cutting open a striper. He tops these accomplishments by being a gourmet who totes aboard self-prepared snacks for all hands at which not even a "21" luncher could sneer: sandwiches of Sacramento pike au pecheur, omelette aux champignons, fruitcake, and a Chateau d'Yquem of an impressive year.
The stripers themselves are undiscriminating eaters. For one trip Mathe prepared frogs' legs provencale. As the party munched their way through these with rods overside, the bass started biting. After half a dozen or so had been landed, Mathe made a few quick incisions and found that all "had been feeding on frog-leg bones. Following that lunch, Adams lit up a Havana cigar, tossing over the side the metal tube in which it came. Within minutes after this he landed a 10-pound striper on which Mathe operated, extracting the metal cigar container.
In achieving his angling reputation, Adams has passed tests that would find lesser sportsmen, toddy in hand, thinking beautiful fish thoughts beside a roaring fireplace. He goes out in winter when cold fog envelops the delta, shod in fleece-lined boots, his hands mittened against the ice-coated reel. Only two dates are liable to keep him home. One is Christmas; the other, his wife's birthday.
FISH FOR EVERYBODY
Such relentlessness produces more fish than any one striper fancier can eat. To cope with the surplus, Adams has his Fish-of-the-Week Club, a bland mixture of bass and public relations. As a matter of Monday-morning routine, he used to hand his secretary a mess of paper-wrapped fish. It was her chore to send these out to the next names up on the FOTW Club list, the larger fish going to the more important Wine Institute friends.
Until recently, when Adams resigned from the Wine Institute, this secretary was Eleanor Rittman. Last summer she found a way to avoid those scaly Monday mornings. In July she became Mrs. Leon Adams.
Three months before this?his second marriage?another event of great excitement took place in Adams' life. It happened on April 17 in an area called Santa Clara Shoals on the San Joaquin River. A monster fish grabbed Adams' 2/0 hook and started off downstream, stripping an old 27-pound-test nylon line off the reel so fast that it painfully burned Adams' thumb.
"Up anchor!" he cried to Emil.