Outdoors: Remembering a friend in Tom Cooney, an icon in fly fishing

I was sad to hear of the passing of Tom Cooney, another icon of the fly fishing world. I met Tom at a meeting of the Maryland Fly Anglers several years ago. It was easy to spot Tom's wheels, for he always had a canoe on top and the inside of the van was stuffed with tackle.

One of my favorite memories of Tom took place at a casting clinic I was doing in Joppa. The number of people wanting to learn was almost more than one instructor could handle. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I minded if he took some of the students. Without looking around I said please, go ahead.

I had no idea who I was talking to or how much he knew about fly fishing. I only knew that to get my message across to the group, I needed help. When there was time, I glanced over toward where my helper was working. I watched as perfect smooth casts were being made and knew someone good was on my team.

It was later that I was to see it was Tom Cooney who was not only a teacher of the sport but a field rep for Cortland Line Co., a long-time maker of fly fishing items.

My first fly fishing outfit was a Cortland fly fishing kit. This was everything needed to begin a life-long love of this sport.

Getting back to Tom, he introduced many to fly fishing. He was always ready to help outfit a youngster who could not always afford the gear. He always had something to say about conservation when instructing others.

Tom died of pulmonary fibrosis on Aug. 10 at his home in Bel Air. This is the second outdoor writer and teacher who passed away this year with lung problems.

I hope the next column will be good news.

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