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Welcome to the ninth interview with the author/contributors of the Dec. 1 release anthology, The Water Holds No Scars: Fly Fishing Stories of Rivers & Rejuvenation, published by Tulip Tree Publishing, LLC.

Today’s author/interview is with Timothy O’Leary. O’Leary is a Montana native and now Oregon-based writer. He is widely published and several pieces were finalists in competition. His non-fiction book, Warriors, Workers, Whiners & Weasels was published in 2006.

O’Leary’s essay in the anthology is titled Fisherman’s Briefcase.




1)  Tell us about your first fly fishing rod and where you used it.

My first rod was a fiberglass Fenwick.  My Dad took me to Sear Roebuck (they used the Roebuck in those days) – and bought me the rod for my 12th birthday.  It received a lot of use on many Montana streams, including The Bighorn, Rock Creek, The Gallatin, The Yellowstone, and The Boulder.

2)  You get the chance to write (but no fishing!) near a stream or pond. Your choice: Write with uninterrupted silence wondering if there are fish nearby, or; Write with fish constantly rising, slurping, and popping the surface the entire time. Which do you choose and why?

Rising fish, of course.  While the distraction would be agonizing – I’m inspired by activity.  If I’m in a city I want it to be vibrant and full of stories – and the same is true for the water around me.

3)  Do you have a favorite fly and/or a favorite writing pen (or place to write)? Tell us about it/them.

I grew up often fishing with a Joe’s Hopper – and it has always been my favorite fly.  My aunt tied flies for Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop – and she specialized in that particular pattern, so I had a lot of them.  And the hopper hatch is my favorite – fishing big flies to very aggressive fish.

4)  Every fly fisherman/woman has a favorite fishing story (other than the one in the book.) Tell us yours (succinctly as possible.)

A year before he passed away, I brought my father to my new home, which sits on a river in Washington state. My Dad had grown too old to fish – and said he would enjoy sitting in a chair by the river with a big scotch, while watching me cast.

“How big are the fish here?” he asked.

I explained that while the river had salmon and steelhead runs earlier and later in the year – in the summer I fished primarily for the little ten to twelve inch rainbows that were eager to eat dry flies.  “They’re nice little fish,” I explained, “that for some reason they don’t get too large,

I caught a couple of the smaller fish, and then miraculously, a resident steelhead shot out of a log jam and grabbed my fly.  I was fishing a 4wt rod with 5X tippet – and assumed he would immediately break me off, but instead the fish ran upstream through a long flat, allowing me to get him under control and tire him with the drag.  I ran up and down the stream with the fish for ten minutes, and was shocked to finally land him, which I would estimate was around 25 – 28 inches and fat, probably 7-10 pounds.  I was thrilled and held up the wild fish so my Dad could see him – before releasing him.

Excited and a bit stunned by the fish, I crawled back up the bank where my father was seated.

He was not a man that showed much emotion, and said flatly, “the fish look pretty good size to me.”

5)  Let’s test your writing skills. Write a standard haiku about fly fishing.

Sorry – but I’ve learned to leave the poetry to the poets.  J

 6)  Your final choice: You get to fish one place whenever you want, but only that place for the rest of your fishing days. Friends/family can come to fish with you, but cannot fish anywhere else. Where do you fish and why?

I am very partial to dry fly fishing for big trout in small streams and spring creeks – so I would probably choose the Patagonia area of Argentina.  The fishing is fabulous, and you seldom see another fisherman.


Thanks, Timothy for being here today. We look forward to reading your essay Fisherman’s Briefcase along with the other great submissions on December 1, 2015.

Remember to leave a comment to be entered in the free book giveaway!

Wednesday’s interview, 12/02/15  is with Bryan Lally, a freelance writer and reporter. His previous work has appeared in the Yellow Chair Review and Shotgun Honey. He and his family live in Portland, Oregon.