Eulogy For Tom Fry (My Friend)
By Lance (Ranger Bob) Taylor
Hello, I would be that 'evil personage' Lance (Ranger Bob) Taylor of
Edmonton that Tom has made reference to on his personal homepage
( http://members.shaw.ca/tfry/personal.html ) over so many years. Well then,
perhaps I should take a moment to clarify where all that business began.
First off, like some others in attendance here today, and from others
quite literally around the world, many of us first had the distinct pleasure
of meeting Tom on the Internet via the Flyfish@ listserver.
The FF@ listserver as we affectionately call it, is an e-mail based
message forum used for discussing and exchanging ideas on all things
fly-fishing related, but more often then not on other things that are
usually not quite so related or always on-topic. For example, on the
off-topic post of how ingested cow magnets are used for removing the
metallic contents of undigested fence nails from cattle came such bad
Haiku poetry as this destined classic. soon to become known as Cowku.
From: Bill Schudlich
Cow attracted me
Lost in the forest am I
Need a new compass!
Fishing no longer
My backcast stuck to a cow
beavers and cows, they are
not on FLYFISH @
Like Cowku, Tom was, and will forever continue to be an FF@ legend.
Some of his favorite topics were politics, and conservation, but no
matter what the subject was he always interjected his good sense of
humor in all that he posted, making for many memorable posts that will
continue to be enjoyed for years to come in the FF@ archives by future
generations of fly-fishers to come. However, he always took fisheries
conservation and enhancement seriously. So much so that he helped form
the Canadian equivalent CANFF@ later on in 1998 to help keep bad Haiku's at bay.
However, for myself, it was back in 1995 that I first met Tom on FF@,
the same year that a fly-fishing conclave legacy began right here in
Alberta down in the Crowsnest Pass by Jim Fox. A fly-fishing conclave,
or Klave for short, was a place for folks from these lists to get away
from their keyboards and meet real people face to face on the stream
and wet a line and a whistle together. Although, Tom himself did not
partake in such libations.
Unfortunately, neither, Tom or I was unable to attend this very first
historic Alberta Klave. Instead I was attending one that year in Montana
with Danny Walls the owner/administrator of the FF@ list.
It was during this conclave near West Yellowstone National Park that
I earned my own nickname of "Ranger Bob' (after burning down nearly half
the deadfall in Montana, or so the FF@ legend would have it) when in
reality after a particularly stormy evening a large tree had felled and
nearly crushed my family's tent flat for the night. Well, not one being
too eager too pay for firewood in US Currency (after all I was from
Canada and the land of trees), I used said free tree to keep the conclave
fires burning for days on end.
And.. no I had nothing to do with that fire in Yellowstone National
Park also contrary to popular belief. In any event, the nickname stuck
and it was a new tradition that would be brought back to future Klaves
In fact this tradition would begin in 1996 when Tom and I first met
in person for the first time down on the Crowsnest Pass along with some
other new FF@'ster at a place that has since affectionately come to be
known to us as "Camp Bernice". This was basically a privately owned and
operated campground that had some incredulous rule of no fires being
allowed 4 inches above the fire grate.
Well, as you could imagine by now this rule was quickly broken by
yours truly, although the proprietor had tried to enforce it upon us
quite religiously throughout the evening. In so many words, and in not
quite so many kind words, for the good of the group, I stood up and
conveyed to "The Nazzi Fire Warden" that she should turn in for the
night and leave us all be. Well, my plan worked! So well, it was at
this time that Tom had assigned me that 'evil personage' moniker which
he has ribbed me about since.
Indeed, the bonfire tradition has held fast at all our Klaves, and
each year we would always enjoy each others company around said
campfires.. nay.. bonfires, which were usually visible from space
as Tom would like to comment after a long hard days fishing.
Usually, on the final day the fires were brightest and impromptu
plans made in anticipation for next years Klave.
Which we all had all later agreed should be held in Tom's old
stomping grounds in B.C at the Kamloops Klave '97 at Douglas Ranch.
There we met some other FF@ legends such as Bud 'Old Coot' Smithers,
Erik Poole, Glen Baglo, Les & Anne Benscoter, and Wally Lutz whom
was also another close friend of Tom's, but was unfortunately not
able to make it here today from Edson, and has asked me to pass
along his respects.
In fact, I also recall that one of the highlights of this
particular trip was when Wally and Tom had decided to go out
fishing together early one day in a rented boat together. Well,
we all know Tom was a stout fellow back then, and Wally was well
just as stout. So, there arose some minor concern when they noted
the boat label "Max Weight Occupancy of 250 lbs". Well between
Wally and Tom, and their combined tackle and gear consisting of
almost 250 lbs alone they managed their way into the boat. With
me in my float tube hauling along side, I could see that the keel
was still well over an inch above the water line. Good to go,
and so they did!
Later, after a hard days fishing Tom and Wally made it safely
back to the dock for lunch, and I had tired of the float tube. So,
Tom and I decided to go down to the other end of the lake to fish
with Erik Poole. As you can see here now, I too am a little stout..
but no matter we had at least a proven one inch margin of safety
between us and the keel.
So, off to the other end of the lake where we got "schooled" in
Chornomid fishing by Erik - which is a nice way to say neither of us
had a clue what we were doing, but we had fun watching Erik catch
all the fish by himself nonetheless. By mid-day the sun was beaming
down pretty good and Tom was getting pretty red behind the ears
That's when he grabbed an extra t-shirt and pulled it up over his
head. I roared with laughter when I looked across the boat and commented
that he looked like "Captain Ahab The Arab" with this contraption
upon his head. Tom had just earned his FF@ nickname from me then.
So, after getting our butt kicked by Erik - "The Captain" headed
us back for shore, which we were both glad to make as the boat started
to take on little water over the sides near the dock from waves .
Upon getting out of the boat, our friend Les Benscoter snapped a great
picture of us together on terra firma with Tom's camera with me posed
beside him in his "Desert Garb". Months later Tom got that roll of film
developed and posted it on the Internet. Sadly one side of the print
was all yellowed from water damage.
Geeh, I wonder how that coulda happened we laughed. and to this day that
picture will always put a smile on my face whenever I remember Tom.
Sadly, I can also remember at this Klave that we never did find our
friend Jim Fox, or Glen Baglo until the very last day of the Klave, due
to poor signage. Henceforth, from that Klave, Tom took the initiative
and made certain that would never occur again.
All future Klaves would feature a bright fluorescent orange 'FF@' logo
that Tom had spray-painted up on poster board and hung in the most
prominent places. I swear, the paint he used was brighter that some
of the fires I have made at night, indeed he had the stuff that
legends are made of.
At this Klave, and for many over the years we would also
participate in many Klave Fly Swaps. Now, for those of you that
have ever received any of Tom's Fly's you will know that he has
tied some pretty experimental.. nay fanciful patterns.. and even
some truly outlandish patterns. Which he always assured would
catch fish someplace in the world. Over the years, I have kept
every one of those flies adding them to my 'Fry Fly Collection"
which I have always had proudly hanging on the wall above my
Well, one year, he tied up a particularly interested Micky Finn bunny
bug looking streamer contraption. Well, I'll be darned if Michael
Dell here hadn't taken it out and caught a nice trout on it.
Indeed, the collection of flies and fond memories I have
accumulated with my friend Tom, and other friends at these annual
events over the years will last me a lifetime.
Trips with Jim Fox, and Tom on the Livingstone River chasing eager
Cutthroats. Trips with Tom and Tony Blake on the Red Deer chasing
Bull Trout. Together, we had many conversations on those streams,
and memories forged around those campfires over the years. Too
many to share with you all here and now.
Sadly, I did not a chance to get together to fish with my
friend Tom last year.
However, I can assure you that Tom will see next years Klave Fire
"from beyond Space", and I am almost certain that he will be
smiling down upon it.
In closing, the greatest passage I can leave you all with to
honour and remember our friend Tom together was most poignantly
phrased is this final text from the novel by Norman Maclean and
later in the movie "A River Runs Through It".
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.
The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks
from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.
Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."
Tom will be missed!
Lance (Ranger Bob) Taylor
December 31, 2007