Singularly, the soft sound of fishing lines penetrating the waters of local streams last Saturday as the 2021 Pennsylvania fishing season got underway wouldn’t register much on a decibel scale. Still, the collective joy of those making the casts will long be heard in fish-telling circles for days and weeks to come. To many, the peace, tranquility, and feel of that tug on the end of the line are experiences they greatly appreciate.
While fishing is something akin to a foreign language to me, a recent visit to perhaps the area’s most well-renowned angler provided a heightened appreciation to one of mankind’s most cherished pastimes.
Nestled along a wooded country road, a long fly cast from the Loyalsock Creek, the home is a reflection of the man who lives there. Built by his own hands, the rustic interior provides a Norman Rockwell-type portrait of the outdoor lifestyle that has provided Don Daughenbaugh a lifetime of memories from the Grand Tetons’ isolated grandeur to the seclusion of Camp David and beyond.
The subject of our visit was a review of the book Daughenbauch has just completed detailing his memorable life experiences fishing has provided. Entitled Great People. Great Rivers. is a celebration of nearly a century of outdoor adventure seen through the eyes of a man with uncanny insight into the natural world and into the character of the people who truly love the outdoors.
Raised in Millertown, PA, Daughenbauch came to the local area as a teacher and football coach at South Williamsport High School. During the summers, he ventured west, serving as a fishing guide in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, where his talents were sought out by some of the nation’s most powerful men.
“I really wasn’t thinking about writing a book, but I had a lot of people who were urging me to put the experiences I’ve enjoyed throughout my lifetime in print,” he explained. “So that’s what I did. A while back, I broke my leg and was having some trouble getting around, so I thought that was a good time to write the book. That’s what started it.
“I had a lot of material to fall back on, but I discovered that putting a book together is no easy matter. It took about a year and a half from start to finish. As the text was being put together, the material was sent to my printer in Quebec City. They would then send proofs back. Barbara Cioffi, a retired educator from the Williamsport School District, and I would review each proof and send them back to the printer. While that seems like a simple process, it took about nine months of back and forth until the process was completed.
“Barb was a great help in putting the book together. I had reached out to Oscar Knade, retired Superintendent for the Williamsport Area School District, seeking someone who could help me relative to the text and grammar. Barb was an English major with 35 years of teaching experience. I’m a biologist, and I had to train her about my fishing ways, but we learned from each other and got along great. We spent many hours going over the text, and it was edited three times before publication.
“In doing this project, I am proud of the great people that I was fortunate to encounter. All of my life, I’ve been surrounded by great people. Folks like Dick Cheney, President Carter, and President Nixon, and many others that may not have been well known. They invited me everywhere. So many experiences I’ve had in my life were the result of fly-tying, fly fishing, and my knowledge. I never went to them. They would come to me.”
Having fished all over the world, Daughenbauch was asked how Pennsylvania fishing compares with other places he has been.
“I think we are very gifted here as we have a lot of fish and many great places to fish. The problem is a lot of people today want it to be very easy to catch fish. Personally, I think we have wonderful fishing here in Pennsylvania. I’ve fished all over the world, but I am very happy to just be in a small stream locally catching trout. It doesn’t matter if you like fly fishing or not; what matters is that you can go to any of our streams and have a good time. That’s what it is all about. Who really cares how many fish you catch?”
Asked if he became PA Fish Commission President for a day, he offered his thoughts on what he’d like to do.
“You’ve got to remember that you are talking to someone that has been fishing for more than 60 years. I can tell you the opportunities to catch fish in Pennsylvania are fantastic. I think what we need to do is educate young people that fishing is something you can do for the rest of your life. I think the Fish Commission is making a good effort to do that. If I were the Commissioner, I’d want to find ways to provide opportunities for young people to get out in the streams, to get away from the computer and enjoy something they can do for a lifetime.”
The hardcover 12” x 9” publication is beautifully illustrated with a hundred color memorable photos showcasing the rivers and individuals Daughenbauch’s talents have touched. Selling for $34.99, individuals interested in obtaining a copy can contact Daughenbaugh at his home, 1746 Mosteller Road, Montoursville, PA 17754. He will arrange for a copy to be shipped or will have copies delivered to buyers in the local area.