I’ve never been one to follow Hollywood celebrities, professional sports players, comic book super hero’s or rock stars, so when I suddenly developed a little hero worship as an adult, it was a bit of a surprise. By definition a hero is “a person or character who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage, bravery or self-sacrifice”. This covers off your standard Superman, firefighter, NFL quarterback type, but what if your hero doesn’t leap from tall buildings, rescue people from fires, or throws the winning touchdown at the Superbowl? Is he or she still worthy of the definition of hero? Well in my books…yes.
Dec Hogan is my hero. He is to his credit an accomplished writer, spey fishing pioneer, teacher and guide. He is also a world class photographer, master fly tier, full time firefighter EMT and overall top notch dude. Most of you reading this won’t have a clue who Dec Hogan is, but I’ve been following Dec for a number of years and I was lucky enough a few years ago to attend one of his spey casting clinics in Forks WA (many thanks to Troy Dettman of Grande Ronde Angler!). I was nervous to meet him because like most people, I didn’t want the image I had in my head of him to be shattered. So when I got the courage up to introduce myself to a living legend, I was humbled.
Dec was exactly who I thought he was. Humble, down to earth, passionate about his craft, modest, and a kindred spirit. I’m sure that most who have met or fished with Dec would say the same. Dec is always quick to smile, eager to share his knowledge, and very patient with those of us still learning to walk in his shoes. For those of us afflicted by the steelhead bug, it forms a universal language that needs little communication. A nod of the head when telling a story, a thoughtful pause when analyzing a run, an unspoken understanding that catching one of those prize fish is actually just a bonus. The hunt for steelhead is like no other fishery, bonding those of us who have endured months (sometimes years) of searching but not finding one, suffered dark cold mornings in snow and rain on slippery rocks, and launching thousands of casts over the water waiting for that one lucky chance. If you’ve done it, you get it. If you’ve just started to, you can’t get enough. And if you are like Dec who has probably swung more flys in his lifetime that I can ever hope to, just having a chance to see a wild steelhead up close and personal erases all of the frozen fingers, cold feet and iced up rod guides.
Dec’s book “A Passion for Steelhead” is a must read for any steelheader, and I highly recommend it. And if you’re lucky enough to meet Dec, perhaps you’ll develop a case of hero worship too.