Thursday, June 25, 2009
ART NEUMANN: GOING DOWN MEMORY LANE
If you are a member of Trout Unlimited you should have or will shortly receive your summer issue of "Trout", TU's magazine. This issue celebrates TU's 50th anniversary of its founding right here in Grayling Michigan. To my knowledge, the only member of the founding group of sportsmen still alive is Art Neumann of Saginaw, Michigan where I've lived since 1973. I won't repeat his biography as printed in the story but suffice it to say that he was the original executive director of TU. He was an engineer, I believe, but nonetheless ws employed by Saginaw Steering Gear Division of General Motors in Saginaw. He took a leave of absence from his job and was responsible for the founding of the first 30 chapters of TU. A good friend in 1980 was a physics professor at the university in Saginaw. We hunted and field trialed together and he boarded his horse at my farm. Ed and I did almost everything outdoors together except in the summer when his interest turned to fly fishing. In fact I'd get angry with him because he'd totally disappear for weeks at a time and I'd be stuck caring for his horse and cleaning its stall every morning. Yes, Ed was flyfishing up on the AuSable. I had never been flyfishing before and told Ed I'd like to go with him sometime. He agreed but said on two conditions. First, I had to attend the local TU chapters casting classes and second I had to spend an afternoon with Art Neumann at his Wanigas (Saginaw spelled backwards) Fly Shop. I agreed. On the appointed Saturday afernoon, Ed picked me up and drove me to Art's home on S. Washington. He pulled in the driveway and behind his home was the shop. The word shop is being generous as actually it was closer to a shed. It couldn't have been 12 x 18 and was jammed with equipment, rods he'd made and fly material everywhere. Ed introduced me and then abruptly turned and left. I heard his car start and realized he was leaving me. Art said not to worry and that Ed would be back for me in 2 hours. Art pointed to a stool and instructed me to sit down and advised me that if I wanted to fish for trout on the AuSable I had to be aware of the significance of the wild trout and how important my respect for the river and trout was. He told me the history of TU and many stories of his fishing adventures. At the end of our session, Art presented me with a fly box with 12 to 15 of his handmade flies. Each had a small strip of paper attached to the hook with the name of the fly typewritten on it. I used some of those flys on my first trip with Ed but for some reason decided to save some. Somehow I knew they would someday be very precious to me. Pictured below is one of those flies with the strip of paper and typewritten is "Gray Drake Spinner" click on the picture to enlarge When you receive your summer edition take the time to read about TU's founding and our AuSable River and say thanks to these fine men.......and especially Art Neumann.