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  1. I am posting the note below on behalf of Jerry Gibbs. John described Jerry as a legend in the fishing world. Not just for the fishing, but his writing that John read since he was a kid. He glowed with happiness when they connected. The picture is from the trip John and I took to Alaska in 2013 (it was the only state he had not yet been to). Before heading to the airport that evening, we spent at least a couple of hours in Title Wave book store, which John described as “hands-down the best book store” he’s ever been to. I doubted at one point if I could drag him out of there to make our flight. We loved Alaska and we both kind of hoped we would miss the flight. He would have been happy to empty his suitcase, leave all clothes behind, and fill it with books instead. He found fishing books that he hadn’t heard of (there weren’t many) and others he had, including a first edition of “The Philosophical Fisherman”, which he loved. In September, a friend gave him the 2015 edition of the book with the forward to the book written by Jerry. John was humbled to talk to Jerry about it.

    From Jerry Gibbs, Fishing Editor Emeritus, Outdoor Life:
    John and I had connected only a short while, and only electronically, but with some folks rapport happens quickly. Fly fishing of course was the original plinth for our conversations. We were simpatico over mutual distaste for certain trends in “fish writing” and photography, especially hero images in which the angler is shown with a horizontally placed rod gnawingly gripped between his teeth. John wanted outright banning of such images, and was only slightly softer on the current photo posing trend featuring fly rods precariously balanced across the fish-gripping angler’s shoulder or neck. John was working to devise suitable alternatives and proved it with recent images of himself with Mr. Pike from the north country. We spoke of other things—good books, primarily, and good bookshops discovered from New York to Anchorage. Fishing, and waters of all kinds were a source of both tranquility and excitement for John. We were about to trade some highly personal accounts about many of them. And suddenly, and wrongly, now we cannot.

  2. Better times. July 4th 2004 … Fishing “the nursery” on the West Branch of the Delaware right below Hancock, N.Y.

  3. I met John Melfi in the summer of 2000. I had been fishing my way across America, and a friend had suggested I look up Melfi when I got to Oregon. I think he figured that we were the only two people on the planet so monomaniacally obsessed with fly fishing, and that it only made sense for us to be acquainted.

    It did make sense. A few minutes after I walked through his door we were bent over a box of streamers discussing arcane variations of the wooly bugger. I tend to think of the ensuing 15 years as just a continuation of that first, animated conversation, with brief interruptions for less signficant activities, such as weddings, births, and fishing’s great arch nemesis: work. We caught our first steelheads together on the Deschutes, and our first bonefish together off Andros Island. We’ve caught stripers beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, native brookies in the furthest reaches of Maine, and tuna off the coast of Florida. We shared a great love of fly fishing, it is true, but either one of us would have jigged corn through a puddle if we thought it’d catch fish. But we spent most of our time, as fisherman tend to do, on local water.

    For us that meant the Delaware River. We spent countless hours trying to unravel the Great Delaware Trout Mystery. John came about as close anyone could have. Following hours observing rise forms through binoculars, we determined that the river’s famously picky brown trout were keyed in on Hendrickson emergers stuck at the bottom of the surface film. So John invented a fly that would hang about a millimeter below a little tuft of CDC. He was, among other things, a genius at the vice.

    Fishing buddies enjoy an unfair advantage over every other person in one’s life, for the simple fact that you do the one thing you love the most with each other, and thus play a supporting, but crucial, role in some of each other’s happiest memories. In some ways no one knows you better, a product of long road trips and sharing cramped tents and crappy hotel rooms. Apart from a snore that could be detected by seismologists hundreds of miles away, John was the best imaginable partner for such journeys, and I knew I was incredibly lucky. He was warm and intelligent and funny and capable of coming up with great insights into subjects both trivial and profound.

    I used to think that we must have been really well-suited to be able to spend so much time together without ever getting sick of each other, but lately I’ve realized John was simply an exceptional human. Like I said, I got lucky. I loved John Melfi; a lot of people did. What I can’t believe—what my brain knows but my heart still can’t accept—is that my luck has run out. Tight lines, my friend. You are greatly missed.

  4. Near Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, fall of 1993. We didn’t realize it would be that cold. And no fishing! Raw deal. Derek Ormerod took this.

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