By Joe Cermele
Blogging is supposed to be fun, but today, with a heavy heart, I have to use this space to inform you that this past Wednesday, John Merwin, fellow blogger, former Field & Stream Fishing Editor, and one of the most well-known voices in outdoor journalism passed away. John and I have shared The Honest Angler every week since August of 2008, but his contributions here are minutia compared to the countless fishing tales and advice he penned during his long career.
John began writing for Field & Stream in 1994, and served as our Fishing Editor from 2003 through 2010. His list of accomplishments is so vast that it’s difficult to touch on all of them, but before working with Field & Stream, John was a newspaperman and photographer, and a frequent contributor to Fly Fisherman in the 1970s. In 1979, feeling there needed to be a flyfishing magazine that catered to those with “a higher level of intelligence,” he launched Rod & Ree_l (now _Fly Rod & Reel) from the basement of his Vermont home. Soon after, John started Fly Tackle Dealer, the first trade magazine for the flyfishing industry.
If you pride yourself on having a solid collection of fishing books in your den or office, it’s likely a few volumes were written or edited by John. In his lifetime, he had the opportunity to fish with legends most of us have only read about, such as Lee Wulff and A.J. McClane. I think it’s fair to say that John’s name will now be spoken with the same reverence as those storied fishermen, as he’s attained that same legendary rank.
John’s passion for fishing was unrivaled and his knowledge about the sport was second to none. I once met a guide on the upper Delaware River who had fished John almost 12 years earlier. “It was a long time ago, but I’ll never forget him,” he told me. “Man, could that guy cast a fly rod.”
John was also a great teacher both on the water and at the editing desk, but he could be a tough critic, never afraid to tell you where there was room for improvement. As I write this, many Field & Stream editors and contributors, past and present, are busy penning stories about times spent with John they’ll never forget. Look for them here next week, as well as a collection of some of Merwin’s best work for F&S. In the meantime, we felt it was fitting today to post one of John’s stories that really captured who he was, how he approached a fishing trip, and (most importantly, as he wasn’t afraid to tell you) how to mix the perfect post-fishing cocktail. Click here to read “The Lake” from the June 2011 issue of the magazine.
In these sad times, our thoughts and prayers are with John’s wife Martha, and the entire Merwin family. To read John’s full obituary, click here.