Last Tuesday, the 27th a great fisherman and one of the best innovators of our time passed away.
Joe Butorac was a freind of mine and he was also a mentor. I heard his name mentioned in conversations and read about him before I ever did meet him and when I met him I was thrown back by his kindness. Quickly I adored Joe, that is all you can do when someone whom you have admired befreinds you.
When I got the word last Tuesday that he had passed away, I was thrown back like I have never been before. I have had family members pass away who I all greatly miss but Joe's death was so sudden and he was the first freind that had passed away.
His death has sunk in but it helps very little. I have surrounded myself with momentos of Joe. A picture of himself is now my background for Windows. I have watched his videos over and over again. Rags and Trophy Flasher flies hang from my rear view mirror in my truck and soon a Flashy Lady will be framed with a plaque in his memory and so will a picture of the great Joe himself and a steelhead rag.
Joe innovations are even more amazing considering that they covered both gear and fly, so many differnt species of fish in all parts of the world.
I once overheard Joe having a conversation with Bill Herzog, a well kwown author. In this conversation Joe was adiment that he was world famous, mainly due to his two flytying videos. I kind of chuckled but I quickly came to realize that Joe was right, as usual.
The Big Man in the Sky now has one of the world greatest flytiers to tie his flies and one of the deadliest steelhead lures ever, the rag, and one of the most productive coho and sea-run flies, the Flashy Lady have now been introduced to the angling community high up in the sky.
We will miss you Joe!! And someday we will meet up again and finally get to spend a day on the river together.
Although we don't know each other, please accept my sincere sympathy. The death of a mentor is a difficult event. Your memory of Joe guarantees his immortality. The flame burns on.
I didn't know Joe personally, but I was living out there and witnessed the impact his innovations had on the steelhead and salmon fishing over the years. His inventions brought great new ways of catching gamefish, but perhaps more importantly they inspired all kinds of new ways of thinking about it as well. It's funny how ol' standby's can be the rule of thumb for decades, then someone comes crashing through with new thinking like Joe's.
Like you I've also had my share of inspirational angling mentors, some have passed on and others are still fishing. It's one of the potent bonds people can make in this great sport of ours. I remember how I felt when my best friend and fishing partner passed away suddenly at 26 years of age due to a congenital heart problem. I had just come out of Hanging Gardens in the upper gorge with a huge chromer hen. My wife and kids were on their way out and snapped a photo before I filleted it out. I was litterally thinking of calling Brian on the east coast to get his ass out to the PNW when the phone rang. I flew to Buffalo NY to attend the funeral, and each spring for the last 15 years I think about that day.
I know from your enthusiasm that many will look to you as a mentor too, if not already! It's the best honor you could give to an angler, and you have given that honor to Joe.
My sympathies, friend.
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