Be Like Bill

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

What do you look for in a fishing partner?

I get the opportunity to fish with anglers at all skill levels. Guys who are my mentors and are way better than I’ll ever be, right down to guys who just picked up the rod. That’s perfectly fine with me. I enjoy learning and teaching. I also firmly believe that I can learn something from anyone, even if only because teaching them makes me think about something I’d overlooked.

A lot of folks feel some stress over fishing with a new partner. Whether it’s because they feel like they aren’t good enough and will embarrass themselves, or because they don’t like fishing with someone who is learning. I can understand both points of view, but if you can get past that way of thinking, you have a lot more fun, make more friends and learn a whole lot more about fly fishing.

On my last trip to the Bahamas I had the chance to fish with a fellow named Bill Eiche. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Bill picked up his first fly rod only six months before he landed on a flats boat with me to chase bonefish. He was so green he got on the boat in a trout fishing vest. In spite of being a complete beginner with a fly rod, Bill’s attitude and approach to fishing made him a great fishing partner. I thought his story was so cool I had to share it.

Like most guys who take up fly fishing, Bill has been fishing conventional gear his whole life, so he’s not new to fishing or even saltwater flats fishing. We started talking about places he had fished. It quickly became clear that Bill was into travel. He’s not a guy who’s sitting on piles of cash, just a hard-working dude from Milwaukee who had at some point decided that life was about the experience and set his priorities accordingly. Fishing, it turned out, was a priority.

Bill had been going to Belize for some time. Not fancy lodge trips, just DIY adventures. He’d been figuring out the sleepy spots that weren’t overrun with tourists, and where the fishing was good. He’d go down to the dock and meet some local guides and before you know it he had it figured out and was catching a bunch of fish. Every fish but one.

Bill hooked a tarpon and got the fever. He was hell bent to get into tarpon in a big way, but every time he asked a guide to take him out for tarpon they made some excuse to cancel the trip. Finally someone told him they didn’t want to take him tarpon fishing unless he used a fly rod. So Bill, the tire salesman from Milwaukee, went on Craig’s List and bought a used 9 weight with the sole purpose of catching tarpon.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s badass!

I’ll fish with anyone who’s ready to step that far out of their comfort zone and dive straight into the deep end. No pussy-footing around, let’s just go catch tarpon. No surprise, he quickly learned that this saltwater fly fishing thing was a challenging game but rather than give up he joined me for my Bonefish School at Andros South. He figured, and rightly so, that was the way to learn the game and learn it quick.

Bill caught a bunch of nice bonefish. His whole saltwater game improved immensely. Mostly because he wasn’t afraid to ask questions and he listened to every answer and applied it. I even got him out of the vest. Everything I showed him, I made a point of relating it back to tarpon fishing. How it was similar and how it was different. I have no doubt that I’ll be seeing a photo of Bill with a giant tarpon before long. And I don’t know a lot of guys who deserve one more.

Bill was a total pleasure to share a boat with. His attitude was great. He had fun. He never got upset when things went badly, never showed temper, frustration or ego. He just enjoyed himself, did his best and appreciated every fish he hooked. I’ll take that in a fishing partner any day. The thing I love most is that Bill is taking life firmly by the balls. Not letting anything stop him. He should have a big tattoo that says, “Why The Hell Not?” Maybe he does, we don’t know each other that well. Anyway, next time I step on the boat I’ll be thinking, be like Bill.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Be Like Bill

  1. Great story Louis, thanks for sharing. I too try to learn something new every time I pick up a Fly rod and it makes for a great day on the water. Happy New Year and continued Tight Lines !!


  2. Great story! Thanks for sharing. It is always an eye opener to hear about the significance of having the right attitude and temperment.

  3. sounds like a great guy with guy with a great attitude. i’d like to send him a couple of tarpon bunnies I tie on circle hooks .they make it much easier to hook the fish! if you wish, i’ll send them to you and you can send them to him, with a note from me. oh yeah, i’ll send you a couple too.

  4. Happy new year Louis. Always look forward to your blog. Hope we can chase Brookies again this year with Dan. It was a great memory from 2015. Take care

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