Following our FISHERMAN'S CALENDAR through its surprising geographical and piscatorial range each week, I became curious about its editor, Ed Zern, and how he puts it together.
When I talked with Zern, he pointed out that there are still more fish to report on in this country than fishermen (30,000,000) and their ways more inscrutable, although he sometimes doubts it. This was by way of saying that the first problem with the FISHERMAN'S CALENDAR was to find 50 fish reporters whose reports could be believed. By tradition almost any fish report is suspect because a dedicated angler has usually learned to keep it quiet when he finds where the fish are biting. But SI's 50 fish reporters—including some of the country's keenest fishermen—from Mexico to Nova Scotia and Washington to the West Indies—upset this tradition when they file their weekly reports with Zern on conditions in their areas.
Each Sunday night, reports at hand and a telephone by his side for checking the kind of discrepancies which the meeting of fish and mortals has always seemed to encourage, Zern tackles the final editing of the calendar which our readers receive the following Thursday.
Zern, with the bulk of the nation's fish more or less treading water round his typewriter, always has more information—or fish—than space will permit him to use. But in general the calendar includes the localities most actively fished, where the fish that week are most cooperative. It all adds up to a fish story on a national scale that is, judging from the letters SI receives, remarkable for its reliability.
A vice president of the Geyer Advertising Agency, Ed Zern also finds time for painting, illustrating and greenhouse gardening—when he isn't fishing (his favorite: salmon in New Brunswick)—or writing about fishing.
His latest book, Are Fishermen People?, has just been published by Harper. His first, To Hell With Fishing, sold more copies than any other book on the subject since Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler. All of them share the wry bewilderment of a veteran fisherman faced by the question why, if men are smarter than fish, it should be so hard to catch fish. Whatever the answer, Zern says, "One of the charms of fishing is that nobody knows too much about it." Ed Zern is also a tireless tier of flies. Here is his latest, the SI Fly. I thought you might be interested in his preliminary sketch, which he passed on to me.