The author, Steve Gardner, has been an avid fisherman for more that 60 years. Born in 1943, Steve had his first fishing experience at the tender age of four while living on a farm in Illinois where he amazed his mother by presenting her with a wash tub full of bream that he caught using a stick, string, safety pin and worms from the stream that ran through the farm property. One could say Steve became “hooked” on fishing from that day onward.
Moving to Jacksonville Florida in 1951, his love affair with fishing continued into his teen years where after school Steve would get on his bike and ride to a nearby lake and fish for bass until after dark.
In 1960 Steve joined the Army and served for six years until becoming honorably discharged in 1967. While in the Army Steve was reassigned in 1962 to Fort Carson Colorado; located near Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was there that he began to fish for and learn about trout. In those days, Steve fished with spinning gear, before he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado, where he set up residence in 1967;
His first fly-fishing experience was in the summer of that same year. There were no graphite rods back in those days, only bamboo and fiberglass rods. “I remember my first rod was made of fiberglass, and I don’t know how heavy it was except it was real heavy and the reel I was using was an automatic reel.” “I fished all day long on the Cache-Le-Pudre river near Fort Collins; fishing a size 10 Hornberg Special and by the end of the day my arm was ready to fall off.” They about wore me out; even though I caught a lot of fish.
Because the fly-fishing rod and reel were so heavy, I decided to stick with spin fishing gear that day. I had always had great success catching trout with my spinning rod, and this was before I learned how to nymph fish. After graduating from the University of Colorado in 1969, Steve was hired by the National Red Cross as a National Safety Programs Representative. As a “safety rep”, Steve served 96 different chapters of the Red Cross spread throughout the states of Colorado and Wyoming. He’s job required that he teach his classes in the evening which left the daytime hours free. During that time, Steve had the opportunity to get up close and personable with many of the western streams and rivers. The opportunity to fish then became extensive, and Steve sizing the advantage, fished at every opportunity.
Coupled with this, his in-laws lived in Columbia Falls, Montana where he visited them several times a year. During those visits Steve fished the rivers and streams in and around Glacier National Park, adding to the wealth of his on-the-water experience.
Fishing with a spinning rod Steve was very successful catching trout; and lots of them. However, spin fishing was getting boring, and Steve wanted a new challenge. In 1979 Steve turned to fly-fishing and never looked back.
While living in Colorado for over 30 years Steve fly-fished streams, lakes, reservoirs and rivers all over the west; all the while soaking up everything he could read and learn about the art of fly-fishing. He learned to fish nymphs, wet flies, streamers, and of course dry flies. He began to tie flies in 1980 and under the tutelage of AK Best (one of the most prolific fly tiers that has ever lived) he honed his fly tying skills. Steve tied flies commercially for over ten years.
This further enhanced his understanding about what trout eat and what they will not eat. Not surprisingly, the name of Steve’s fly tying business was called “The Constant Hatch”.
Steve no longer ties flies commercially, but will still tie for his friends–when asked.
Steve moved back to Florida in 1993. There he fly-fishes the Indian River for Redfish, Sea trout and Tarpon.
Beginning in February, when the shad make their spawning run up to the headwaters of the St. Johns river and into the Econlockhatchee River; you may see Steve catching fish after fish with his fly-rod praising, and thanking God for the experience.