The Gathering..Stu Apte, Chico Fernandez, Flip Pallot, Joan Wulff, Pat Ford, Vaughn Cochran. Partners Dave and Carol Byler, partner/lodge manager Clint Kemp were there and on site lodge business manager June Russell was there too. Jean Cochran, manager of the US booking office was there as well as John Frazier and Graham Hegameyer who documented the event. A special thanks to highest bidder Brett Martin who made a donation to Bonefish Tarpon Trust on behalf of Blackfly Lodge to spend three days fishing with all of us. Brett, you bring a fun loving perspective to anything that you do, it was great getting to know you and fun having you here. Thanks to the spouses of the “Giants” who were here, Jeanine Apte, Diane Pallot and Joan Wulff’s husband Ted. You each have a unique perspective on living with a legend I’m sure.
Vaughn Cochran notes to the Blog:
I hesitated when asked to write a few words about the “Gathering of the Giants” while still at Blackfly Lodge, thinking that I didn’t want to miss anything. How could you possibly sum up a historical event while you’re you’re in the process of living it? I’m glad I couldn’t find the time or the words.
Having returned home to face the easel and the duties of running a business or two, I look back on the past few days as a blur, but with details. Much like the comedian Steven Wright’s line about “always wanting to take a close-up photograph of the horizon”.
There were time warps where memories of past fishing adventures dominated the conversation, not surprisingly, nearly all of the conversations were about fishing. The one when Flip and Chico were first living in the Keys in the early 60’s and they were following Capt. Stu Apte to find his secret fishing holes, story after story about their lives on the water and how life was in the early days of fly fishing, the equipment they invented and the gear they used, told by these very anglers that made fly fishing history in the first place.
The weather for two of the three days was horrible, but nobody seem to care. Years and years of fishing trips in good and bad weather didn’t bother any of these seasoned legends because they knew the unpredictable and uncontrollable elements are just part of the deal. In fact, the rain and wind made the group even more determined to ignore everything but each other and savor the once in a lifetime opportunity to be together. The three days of the “Gathering” passed in a flash…nobody wanted to leave when the time came.
Yes, fish were caught when we had the opportunity to “get out”. When the sun finally appeared on our last fishing day, flies found their mark. We have pictures to prove it….. as if there were any doubt!
Devon Roker, the chef at Blackfly Lodge, kept us guessing each day as to what incredible dinner we would be sharing. I’ve never had Stone Crab Claw Soup before! Don’t ask, Devon won’t share the recipe for that one. We ate like the deserving kings in attendance. Brett Martin “flew in” the wine which was equal to the status of the legends who were seated around the table. I will never forget the toasts made at the table! I don’t think I will ever forget anything about this week.
As we sat down to our final breakfast at the lodge, we all shared any missing contact information that hadn’t been passed on earlier. Each promised to stay in closer contact with each other as there is always the possibility that the group dynamic could change quickly. As always, we plan to do this again soon. I really, really hope so!