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November 20, 2011 / flogginwater

"I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River"

Was at Goodwill the other day, because my wife wanted to stop in and look for a few things. I always hit the books section when we go there, along with what passes for a sporting goods section (and I check out the luggage, because sometimes you can find good day packs or back packs cheap).

I picked up a copy of Henry Winkler’s (The Fonz) book “I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River” for $5, in hard bound version no less. I figured for $5, it was worth it. I’m glad I bought it. It wasn’t an especially long read – I think around 130 pages, including some that were photographs (all taken by or of Henry). It definitely brings to light a totally different Henry Winkler than what we see on the teletube screen. His wife wrote the forward – including a story how he actually lost his cool because his teenage daughter was dragging her feet getting ready to go fishing. Henry hasn’t been fishing for long, compared to a lot of hard core anglers, but when he goes fishing, he changes from the easy going mild mannered guy most people think of and turns into some raging fishing maniac. Both his wife says this, and Henry agrees in the body of the book.

He talks about his childhood a bit – about how he grew up in a home with demanding, and rather uncaring parents whose nick-name for him was “Dumb Dog” because he struggled in school (thanks to his then undiagnosed Dyslexia). I never knew that he struggled with self-esteem issues – even at the height of his career.

While there is a bit of the typical “getting back to nature” flowery component all fishing writers (and bloggers) are guilty of using – Henry admits that he gets intense when fishing – and his focus is on catching every fish in the river. He also admits to being a pretty bad caster (maybe because he was taught to stop the back cast at 12:00 vertical position?) and has only been decent at fishing dry flies for the last two or three years (since the book came out this year, and was written in 2010). But never the less – he’s got a mega-boner for Montana (don’t we all?) because he only gets to spend about a week every year there, and tries to jam fishing into every second of daylight. He’s also managed to catch some beautiful, big fish, of which there are some nice pictures in the book.

Unlike some people whom you’d expect to bullshit you about fish size or numbers – he admits that his personal best fish was a 6lb brown, caught on the Henry’s Fork. If it were some other Hollywood types, I’d expect there to be a “1” or even a “2” in front of that 6.

Henry also admits to carrying pictures of fish and fishing with him everywhere he goes – on his phone, in his wallet, and his personal spaces at home and work have pictures of the fish he’s caught, or his family has caught. He’s a fishaholic tried and true.

It really paints him in a real human light, rather than the one-dimensional image we tend to get from Hollywood. It’s worth a read. I’m not sure I’d pay full hardback price ($22) for it – but I’d buy the soft cover version, or check it out from my local library.



  1. Cofisher / Nov 20 2011 14:04

    I honestly thought the book was a little light-weight. And really, how much can he get out if he's never met an idiot on the river?

  2. Mark / Nov 20 2011 23:47

    Well, from what I gathered Howard, it seems like Mr. Winkler only gets to fish a week or two out of a whole year. And his week in Montana is spent at a private lodge, fishing out of a guide boat most of the time – so not too hard to imagine not running into too many idiots when you do it like that.

    If I had his success and funds though – I'd scale back on work, and scale up on fishing. Especially with a wife who is on-board with the fly fishing thing too. Sure, we could fish out of separate boats (more water for me!). She can go fish with whatever man-candy guide, so long as I could fish exclusively with April Vokey.

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