TBT: Western Fly Fishing Journal – “Emmett Heath: Dean of the Green River”

From Alan O’Connor

In the mid-1990s, I had a crazy idea for a half-hour fly fishing show. “Let’s do a series that focuses on the amazing people, rivers, ethics, and history of fly fishing and not just catching fish.” Of course, catching fishing is fun, but not the only reason to fly fish. In fact, to me, catching fish was the icing on the cake, but I was really more interested in all the satisfying abundance below that icing.

Steve Schmidt of Western Rivers Fly Fisher didn’t think it was a crazy idea and was kind enough to introduce me to Emmett Heath who had been recently named guide of the year by Fly Fisherman Magazine. I was able to convince my boss the late Tony Young to allow me to chase this wild idea for a day or two if it didn’t cost too much – and it didn’t. This is the simple pilot episode that was produced that grew into Western Fly Fishing Journal. Though the production values appear dated now, I think the spirit and message are as valuable now as they were then – maybe more so.

It’s so easy to see why Emmett is known and loved as the “Dean of the Green” and why I always think of Emmett as much zen master as a fly fishing guide.

Ironically, though the concept for the show was never about catching fish, my favorite moment is when Emmett catches the fish. I think you’ll see why it’s my favorite.


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