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Art Lee, fly fishing virtuoso, writer, dies at 76

By Donald G. McNeil Jr. / New York Times / August 3, 2018

Art Lee, a writer and guide who described the sylvan joys — and the slyest tricks — of fly-fishing to generations of trout and salmon anglers, died on July 25 at a hospital in Middletown, N.Y. He was 76.

Mr. Lee suffered a heart attack in his home in Roscoe, N.Y., in Sullivan County, on July 22 and was taken off life support three days later, said Galen Mercer, an illustrator of Mr. Lee’s books.

Mr. Lee, in his pursuit of fish, championed streamside tactics over entomological science.

In an age when the sport was growing more technical, he argued that knowing where fish hide, stalking them without spooking them and casting to them perfectly were more important than carrying hundreds of flies to “match the hatch” — or imitate the exact insects on the water.

Art Lee was the author of several fly fishing books – copies can be purchased in fly shops or Amazon Books. Image Amazon.

In 1982, reviewing Mr. Lee’s first book in The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote: “I wish I had had Art Lee’s ‘Fishing Dry Flies for Trout’ when I began fishing. Mr. Lee, a field editor for Fly Fisherman magazine and one of the more reputable young flycasters in the country today, takes us by the hand and leads us through a series of baby steps from the art of ‘reading’ a stream to the craft of netting a large trout.”

For years, Mr. Lee offered advice in nearly every issue of Fly Fisherman magazine.

“In the 60s, reading Fly Fisherman if you fished was like reading High Times if you were a pot-smoker,” said Dennis Skarka, the owner of Catskill Flies, a fishing supply store, in Roscoe. “It was the premier fishing magazine, and Art had a great impact on the way people fished.”

In 1982, Mr. Lee invited former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, to accompany him on a salmon-fishing trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. (Mr. Carter is considered to be the best flycaster to have ever occupied the Oval Office.)

Useful links:

Roscoe, N.Y. . . 

Catskill Fly Fishing Museum . . . 

What The Trout Said –  Book Review NYTimes . . .

Read complete NYTimes story . . .

Featured Image “Nymphing” by Mike Cline.

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