Mentors Old and Young

Time on the water answers most fishing questions and that time is what helps an angler improve.  Whenever I fish alone I experiment with different techniques, a variety of lures and retrieves, and I learn a lot.  But, nothing beats learning from a mentor, and when I fish alone I always wind up thinking about the many folks who have taught me along my way.

My dad showed me a lot of the basics of spin and bait fishing gear, rigging, and casting.  Dad gave up on me with level wind reels since it took me longer to master the thumb pressure on a spool to prevent a backlash.  I know for a fact that I frustrated the heck out of him with those snarls….

I think of Hayden Price who taught me to fly cast.  It was a very simple lesson in those days.  I took my Shakespeare Wonderrod and Pfleuger Medalist reel and Cortland 333 line over to his house and he worked with me on the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock casting.  Mr. Price stuffed a Holy Bible under my arm to keep me from swinging too much, and if I dropped it there would be a problem bigger than soiling the Good Book.

Two of my middle school teachers took me on their fishing trips.  They had ample free time during vacations and in the summer.  We had an arrangement, and provided that I supplied lunch they’d take care of the rest. It was as good a deal as I have ever come across in my life.

I think of my good friend Kenney Abrames who taught me about the way that nature works with all different types of fish.  I learned how color changes in water which helped increase my fish catching. Kenney taught me about the power of observation and that if I could figure out what was going on with the time of year, the wind, and the water I could catch more fish.

I think of fishing with my wife and how much fun we have had catching fish. Her laughter is contagious, and even if I’m in a rotten mood and the weather is foul, I wind up smiling.

Fishing with my kids gives me a view of what I was probably like many years ago.  Most everything is a new world for them and theirs is a broad horizon.  And when I see what they see I no longer feel my age; I feel like I did when I strapped a spinning rod to my bike frame and headed to MacKenzie Reservoir with my pals Chris and Andy to catch some bass and bluegills.  At that point I usually head for home.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at