A Fish Bum, Again

A Fish Bum, Again

A dozen years spent mostly indoors might be about enough for this outdoorsman.

Paul Guernsey
Paul Guernsey

Paul Guernsey



"Are you sure you want to turn your pastime into your business?" Silvio Calabi, then editor-in-chief of FR&R, asked me that question 13 years ago, when I was interviewing for the magazine's associate editor position. Back then, I was a writer and part-time college writing instructor for about eight months of each year. But from ice-out through much of the summer, I was a fish bum. In fact, I was so hard-bitten that whenever I was offered an exotic travel-writing assignment during my personal fishing season, I invariably turned it down. I was busy, at home in Maine, chasing brook trout, browns, landlocked salmon and stripers.

I saw the opportunity to work for FR&R as a gift from the gods: a way to scratch my fishing itch-often in places I never dreamed I'd visit-as well as pay the bills. And, as if that weren't enough, how could I pass up the chance to be the first person in the world to read John Gierach's latest essay?

Yes, I told Silvio, I was indeed ready to turn my passion into my business.

For almost seven years, it was my dream job. I fished all over the planet; I made friends with such brilliant anglers and creative thinkers as Gary LaFontaine and Ted Williams; I was painstakingly coached in fly-casting by such world-class experts as Joan Wulff, Floyd Franke, Bruce Richards, Al Caucci and Ted Calvert. Then, just as I was beginning to feel frustrated with the restrictions of my position, Jim Butler was promoted within the company, opening the way for me to become FR&R's top editor and bringing the dream back to life.

It's been a great six years since I became editor-in-chief. But, as Silvio was hinting at way back when, there are indeed some drawbacks to turning your passion into your livelihood. For instance, one not-so-well-kept secret of fishing-magazine editors is that the job involves a lot more time sitting in an office than it does standing in a stream. Then there's all that inevitable office stuff-meetings, budgets, spreadsheets, management issues and business pressures of many sorts.

About a year ago, it began to occur to me that a dozen years spent mostly indoors might be about enough for this outdoorsman. I've always been as excited about writing as I have about fishing, and I was starting to feel ready to spend more time in the fresh air and sunshine and, at least on rainy days, to work on another book or two. I also wanted to spend some serious time fishing my beloved but long-neglected home waters with my two fast-growing kids and some fine old friends I'd long been too busy to see much of.

Those yearnings only grew stronger over the subsequent months, and so, to make a long story short, after double-checking to make sure my family and I could really afford the change, I recently resigned. November/December was my last issue as editor-in-chief and associate publisher, and this is my final editor's note for the magazine.

The best thing about FR&R has always been its active, engaged, literate readership, and I am honored to have had you reading us all these years. It's been an exciting challenge and a great pleasure to put together a fly-fishing magazine that I thought you would both enjoy and learn from. I've also loved talking and corresponding with so many of you. Thank you all very much.

I am not saying goodbye here, friends. What I am saying is…see you on the river.