The first time I ever heard about Eddie Pinkston was probably my second date with Jacob. My conclusion was that this man is probably part god, part degenerate. Seriously. My first time meeting Eddie, I had the same conclusion. I spent the better part of two hours listening to this man, swinging a Bud Light can around, trying to convince me that he had “spoken” a 32-inch brown trout into swimming right into his hands. Oh, and where he wanted his ashes spread. But, this was Eddie, for better or worse, he was who he was.
I was given the opportunity to work for Eddie’s family for the better part of three years, and it was a true privilege. There was never a shortage of Eddie stories around the plant, from his mother to daughter to other employees. As soon as anyone at work found out that I fly fished, a story was soon to follow, and they were always welcome, especially the ones concerning carp. Amazingly, the stories continued from every fly fisherman in the Western North Carolina area as soon as they found out I worked for the Pinkston’s. You see, Eddie was a bit of a “local hero” around here, or at the very least he was incredibly infamous.
My journey of fishing with Eddie started about five months ago, well sort of. You see, Eddie passed away winter of last year. He was cremated and parts of him went here there and yonder. One of his daughters sent a little piece of Ed our way so that he could continue fishing, even after he had left our world. And so, Eddie goes fishing every time Jacob and I do.
To say that my perspective on fishing changed a little when I started fishing with Eddie is a bit of an understatement. If I was going to fish with the man’s ashes, I was certainly going to learn about him, to know him as best I could. I read books written about him, got even more stories and tried to replay the so few conversations I’d ever had with him. And slowly, I think I’m starting to grasp him, and not him the world saw, but the angler.
I hope to one day take Eddie back to Pennsylvania to catch much more steelhead. I hope to return him to the Henry’s Fork and catch so many trout that my right arm won’t work. I hope that on our journey I’ll be able to take him to Patagonia again and see that wonderful country through his eyes. But for now, we’ll keep on going to the Davidson, the place where Avery’s creek comes into it, and we’ll keep fishing it. And just maybe, one day, I’ll be able to coax a 32-inch brown into my hands, too.
Photo courtesy of John Crane - 2007
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.