Richard was a genuine free-spirit.
A vet by trade and a bohemian by nature, he entered my life at the age of ten.
Two years later he was my stepfather.
Three years later he had a fly rod in my hand.
So, it’s thanks to this animal loving, madcap, maverick that I came to appreciate and enjoy this noblest of sports.
Always on the breadline, fractionally ahead of the bailiffs, Richard managed to pull off a roguish glamour. He lived for his annual fishing expeditions to New Zealand and British Columbia.
Rascal that he was, I daresay he had a girl in every port, but he most certainly kept a Harley-Davidson in both countries. Untaxed and uninsured, he’d roar off in to the wilderness with his rucksack, tent, Hardy Smuggler and assorted clobber.
Weeks later, he’d return misty-eyed with stories of his exploits. Sadly, I don’t recall the rivers or exact locations, but I do remember tales of being dropped into deep, deep BC by helicopter before floating off down some torrent of a river in an inflated inner tube hunting down the mighty Steelhead.
And I’m sure memory serves me right when I proudly tell you that he was once cover boy for Trout and Salmon, writing up his Canadian adventures.
We lived in mid-Wales at the time, and I cut my teeth – with limited success, I hasten to add – on the Usk and the Wye.
The local publican in Hay-On-Wye owned a stretch of the river and recognising the glint in our eyes, was happy to slip us a half-day or two.
Richard died last year.
Seventy-something, he was in the back and beyond of California at the time, exploring and fishing. He’d substituted two wheels for four, but true to form he was on a solo mission with camera, rod, and bags of exuberance.
So this post is really to acknowledge those who instilled this passion in us, who patiently nurtured and guided us, and to whom we are all eternally grateful.
You’ll all have your own Richards, but to my very own: I salute you, sir.
Until next time,