Memories of a friend


[Bulletin Board]


Posted by Craig Smith on 2008-02-21 22:42:36 in reply to Bill Nash Passed Away Last Night posted by Dan Blanton on 2008-02-21 12:07:37

I was first introduced to Bill through Dan’s bulletin board. I found Dan’s board within a week or so of its birth and recall that Bill was an early participant. I first met Bill at the first Striper Fest back in ’97 and shared a word or two with him at other Striper Fest events over the years. Since I am not a Bay Area resident most of our exchanges were via the bulletin board or email. Like all of us, I learned a lot from Bills postings and book.

In 2004 Dan lead a group to Australia and Bill and I teamed up for that trip. Bill and I traveled and fished together for 3 weeks. Bill was an excellent fishing partner and a great travel partner. We had lots of great discussions and a few friendly arguments on all sorts of topics. I couldn’t have asked for a better companion to share that trip with and I will relate a couple of tales here.

One of Bill’s goals for the trip was to catch one of those Australian Permit and to do it on a floating crab pattern has he had read about. During mid morning of the second day with Carpentaria Seafaris we tied our skiff up on the edge of a sand bar in a river estuary. Information we had be provided indicated that that would be a good place the hook up with a permit and one had been taken there the day before. A few minutes after we got set up, we started seeing permit rise to crabs floating on the surface like trout to a mayfly hatch. Bill made a cast into the current, made a mend, and was very quickly hooked up with a nice permit. When he got that fish into the boat he had a smile from ear to ear, like a kid who has just been handed the keys to an ice cream shop.


A few minutes later I hooked into permit also which quickly got into my backing. As I got the line to backing connection back into the guides, I noticed something was wrong. It looked like the knot it the backing was unraveling. Bill was going to try to secure it, but the permit made another run. We left the connection alone and I eventually landed the fish. During a break after lunch I stripped off the fly line to fix the connection. We discovered there was no knot! I had just folded the dacron backing in half and looped that to the flyline. What had happened was that I had never finished rigging that reel. I had been very ill during the months leading up to the trip and even spent the week before the trip in bed, barely able to stand up. Over the months I had slowly rigged my gear, even winding on backing a few yards at a time. I recalled that I had been very ill when rigging that reel and had just wound the line on to get it out of the way, meaning to get back to it. Bill and I were both flabbergasted that the backing had stayed connected to the flyline. Of course I told Bill that I was just trying to prove that knots really weren’t that essential (actually, I was very embarrassed). And of course, Bill had to figure out why that knotless connection held. So we spent an hour or so playing around with the backing and the braided connector on the end of the flyline. We discovered that the dacron backing when folded over into an unfinished loop and attached in the same manner as a correct loop would grip the braided mono very tightly under pressure, even without a knot. However if there was no tension, the dacron would slip right out. The we felt we knew what the result would be we tried the same thing with spectra and it slipped right out. Bill decided that he would not add Craig Smith’s knotless backing to flyline connection to the next revision of his manual.

We had many more adventures during that time – like laughing up a storm while hooking up with leaping ox-eye herring, or the spinner shark the Bill brought to the boat, and the crock our guide hit with the boat, a wide open trevally bite…

After the trip, Bill extended an open invitation to come up and fish with him whenever we could match our schedules up. This proved more difficult than anticipated. Bill was beset by his illness and my illness returned (later diagnosed as Crohn’s disease). We managed to share a wonderful day with Lee Rice in 2005. That was the last day I have been striper fishing and the last day I saw bill in person, though we communicated by email after that. Bill and I made arrangements to fish together in ’06 and ’07 but I had to postpone both times because of work related issues I had to deal with. I never got to fish with Bill again.

I have attached some photos from our OZ experience here. A couple of these were already posted by Dan, but I was behind the camera or right there for all of them and they are a part of my memories. I miss my friend.

[click here to display pictures]


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