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Passing the torch

6/19/2002

We keep meeting at the best places, at the right times: The South Fork of the Snake, the Upper Salmon, the North Platte, the Gallatin, the Madison and the Blackfoot. We meet in the back-drafts of summers, when the wind blows hot, then cold, then hot again — when the dark, coppery ceilings of the glides are flecked with gold on their migrations through time. We meet when the land glows with a dying light, while in the mountain passes the shadows of winter gather and soon the benches and valleys and rivers will be blown white and hard under the long night.

He is my second son, and although we see each other often through the year, these meetings are different. They are personal, our thing, just we two — and each meeting is a chapter in a book to be read only by us. What happens on the river will be told to others, but what is shared can only be reflected unspoken by our mutual memories. Each of us has his take on those times, of course. But these meetings hold us close.

This use of fishing as a medium for our love began when Trevor was young and wanted nothing so much as to please me, a son's burden not to be carried forever. I, through my fame as a television sports broadcaster, belonged in part to a second family known as the public. I was gone more days than I was home during his early years. But, across the distances of all those long baseball seasons, Super Bowls and bouts of March Madness, we shared a single passion. We loved to flyfish even more than the sum of our parts when we did it together. But so often work got in the way, and the sharing was done not in a stream, but over the phone, voice to voice.

Hey Dad, Curtie and I hit the hatch perfectly yesterday.

That's great, son.

When are you coming home, Dad?

Soon, I hope.

Now, he has followed me where I'd hoped he wouldn't go — because the waters are often swift and overcrowded. He has his own television show. He calls it "Out There," and it can be seen on ESPN2. He produces it, hosts it and he sells the advertising. He "spans the globe" — as Jim McKay used to say on ABC's Wide World of Sports — to find the best fishing. Along the way he gets a little help from the likes of Jim Belushi, John Gooden and Neil Young. And, of course, once each year I'm there with him — only the reunions are no longer so private.

Still, even with the cameras rolling, the silent connection is there. Five shows we have done, father and son. Each is a little different. The place, year and weather all change. Just as I have changed my take on Trevor's chosen profession. Now I see and I understand. He's doing what he loves, and although work is endless and the profits are limited, Trevor Gowdy carries the torch for millions who would love to be doing what he does. He's rich beyond money.

So, I think I'll keep quiet and keep meeting him in all the right places, at the right times — because, among other things, he keeps me young. Didn't someone once say that as long as the trout are taking flies winter is still in the mountains?

No? Well, I believe it's true.

Tight lines, folks.

CITGO's In Search of Flywater will return to ESPN2 in July. A new Curt Gowdy memory appears in this space every other week.