The summer I really got into fly fishing I was home for the summer, in college, waiting for a year abroad in France. I was working as a fire watch at a lumber mill and doing some bartending too. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew rivers and water from years of steelhead and gear fishing. I was picking it up, tiny bit by tiny bit. One place that really helped was the Ted Fay Fly Shop, located (at the time) a few blocks from where I grew up. I had never noticed the fly shop, tucked into one corner of a pretty cheap motel. I started making pretty regular appearances there and one of the guys I met there was Joe Kimsey. Joe had been around for a long, long time. He grew up in McCloud and after service in the Air Force (Korea and Vietnam) he returned to Dunsmuir. He remembered the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers from when they still had steelhead and salmon. He was always quick with a joke and a handshake and he was just a joy.
The shop moved downtown and Joe remained a big part of the Ted Fay experience. I few years ago his health started to fail and he was forced to leave the shop he had given so much of his life to. I understand the owner of the shop (Bob Grace) and his wife would go down every Sunday to take Joe out to dinner.
When my dad got into fly fishing (the year after I did) Joe took us down to the river and showed us how Ted Fay had fished it. Two flies, short line, lots of weight, high sticking right through the pockets. I caught fish where I didn’t even know they could exist. It was eye opening and it started me on a path that has been full of joy and adventure and exploration and so much of what I think of as the best parts of myself.
Joe passed on Thursday.
Godspeed Joe. You will be missed.
The Trout Underground broke the news.