In Memory and Celebration of Doug Rose
March 5, 1950 - March 11, 2013
After many months, this is a message to all of you who await, consult, and value Doug’s Olympic Peninsula Flyfishing blog. Some of you knew him as a personal friend; some traveled with him as a fishing companion, guide or mentor; some read his books and blogs and articles and found guidance or a brief chance to visit beautiful places, fully present through Doug’s sense of wonder and skill with words. His body died in March, 2013. His truth and fully engaged sense of life and the world live on, in many different ways, among those of us who love him.
Months back, a number of Doug’s friends were asked to write about some brief memories. Doug loved stories; thus, they are the most fitting memorial. Calling up memories of someone beloved but gone is hard; writing about those memories, so much harder. Many people sent stories and they are so precious. Others hold stories in their hearts and pass them on as the moment is right to friends, family and fishing companions. Here are those written. Please share them, please think of Doug when you behold places of beauty, wonder and peace. And please, as a special tribute to Doug, yourself, the world of flyfishing, and future generations, go to the website www.sportsmenforwildolympics.org and actively “speak like a mountain” to protect and celebrate this most precious place.
Even though I only knew Doug for one day of memorable fishing, I will always remember him. That day was memorable for many reasons. First and foremost was the great company. Along on that trip were Jeffrey Delia and Leland Miyawaki as well as Doug and myself. I did not have high hopes because I have fished beaches around the state with Leland and not caught anything. However, I was, of course, excited; I am always excited about meeting new people and fishing new water. That day I caught not just one but four searuns with Doug’s instruction. They were the first four searuns I had caught in the salt. I have not caught another one in the salt since. Between taking pictures of everyone’s fish and helping me, Doug still managed to get in there and land a very nice searun. Off the water, Doug was a great character. Perhaps what I shall remember most about him is how much he loved the lunch that my Mom had made for us that day. What he loved most were the Izze sodas that she had packed. Beyond that, I will remember him being a great character. He was always laughing his great laugh and enjoying every moment of being on the water.
It was Doug’s laugh. It came so quickly. And his face would crinkle and his great moustache would curl up and twitch. I remember he would chuckle all the while we chatted on the days he came to Bellevue to give seminars. It was a long way to come for an hour and half talk and he wouldn’t take any money not even for gas. He always came when I called.
We finally fished together just before he died. It was a day of great of fishing, good conversation, and of course, a lot of laughs, mostly from Doug. I have never met a man who was so quick to laugh. But you know the best part of Doug’s laugh? That incredible, mischievous twinkle he would get in his eyes!
The boys used to take Cindy (our Irish Setter) and go down to the rearing ponds across the road to fish and probably get into mischief. I was working in the kitchen and saw the kids coming back through the field. Doug came in while his friends went out to the yard and asked me “Mom, will you cook this fish for us?” It was a nice fish, but not much of a meal for three growing boys. Then, as Doug handed it to me, he suddenly teared up a little and said, “I wished I hadn’t killed it. It was so pretty in the water.” Still, I went ahead and got the skillet and flour and the boys enjoyed their catch.
Anna Marie Rose
Doug was a master with words, and he could say a lot with a few. On November 4, 2008, his blog entry was brief:
I fished the Dickey today. I didn’t get a bump. It was still one of the best days of my life.
That was election day, and for Doug and many of us who had come of age in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when the civil rights struggle was still fresh and the war in Viet Nam was all too present, Obama’s election was a sign of hope. Characteristically, Doug avoided the bristling commentary that prevails in so much of today’s political discourse, and instead quietly and simply affirmed the good that he saw done on that day.
In many ways, Doug showed that his primary concern was for the greater good, and for those he was with. That was simply part of his nature. I met Doug when my then teenage son and I took one of his cutthroat workshops. Doug said that John should attend for free, because he wanted to encourage young people to care about the fish and the sport. Doug always gave away the first run at the best water and took delight when others succeeded.
In the last five years, Doug and I fished together fairly regularly. We took turns marking each other’s 60th birthdays by supplying homemade soup, sandwich fixings, and local brews on the banks of the Hoh. Between fishing trips, we kept in touch by email, and so I have a brief record from his last weeks. The final email I got from him closed with these words:
Eliana has been a marvel. I keep thinking about how many people have to go through stuff like this alone. I am a very lucky man. All my best—Doug.
Even as he faced his own death, Doug was thinking about others … and was able to consider himself a lucky man. For those of us who knew Doug, I’d say the luck was all ours. Rest in Peace, my friend.
Top of Form 1
Good bye brother, my friend, so much left undone and unsaid. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for being you. The earth has taught us much and we have experienced its wonders. We were lucky to have these wonders at our door. But, don’t we all. You taught me to see, to explore, to enjoy life, to make things so.
The water has had great meaning to us both. It was all around us. You in particular have searched out its wonders and we have experienced its greatness. It was refreshing, it was cold, it was pleasant and annoying. It made mud. The life it sustained brought amazement, joy and food. I remember snorkeling with you. You had to see what was going on. We could barely swim but life was too wonderful to not explore. Large fish were to be seen, the ones you could never catch. But, we learned. We saw. We got better. We had fun. For this I am grateful. Good bye.
When I first came here to the Olympic Peninsula the name Doug Rose was already on my mind. I had been reading Doug’s earlier book: “Fly Fishing The Olympic Peninsula”, and studying it for some time. My greatest impression from reading his work was that this was one fisherman writer who I wanted to meet. That did not take very long to occur, as were both living in the same area. From the very beginning Doug was one of the people who welcomed me here, and he shared generously of his experience and deep knowledge of this place. It was obvious how heartfelt his concern for the wild fish here was, and for the watersheds and forests. Everything that I admire and respect in an true conservationist was summed up in the life of Doug Rose. He lived and breathed duck hunting, hunting dogs, fishing and wilderness, music, literature, and so much more. And he lived as a steward too. His abilities as a writer allowed him to carry the message of conservation, and his reverence for life, in all of his observations on the outdoors life. As his writing career progressed it was all that much easier to appreciate how much heart he had invested in this place, and in all that he did. Most of my more recent encounters with Doug were on our beaches, when we would both be out guiding people for sea run Cutthroat trout. And a few times when we were just out fishing, or scouting, and we would run into each other on the water. I was always glad to see him. And he always had something good or interesting to share; about the fish, or about the fishing, sharing a fly, always making an observation on life. His keen ability to turn a phrase left nothing sacred at times. And I especially enjoyed his acid wit when it came to the entrenched, draconian fisheries management policies of our state, or national politics in general. He was a master of the ironies of the modern world. I miss seeing him. I miss his laugh. I miss his smile. And I miss his warmth as a gentle, good soul, who lived a caring and committed life. He left an indelible mark on me.
Bob Triggs /
Little Stone Flyfisher
I met Doug quite a few years ago when he visited South Sound Fly Fishers in Olympia for a program on Olympic Peninsula rivers. Doug stood in the room and gave a lyrical overview of each river’s personality. Doug clearly thought of each stream as a complete, living thing, and he loved each one in different ways. Most fly clubs want a program that goes Location + Timing + Flies = Big Fish for You Right Now. Doug’s program showed the Peninsula as much more than the Last Best Place in Washington to Catch a Huge Wild Steelhead. For Doug, it was all about the entire experience, which included friends, the history of the fly on your line and just seeing wild fish.
I did a column about the meeting for The Olympian newspaper, and Doug wrote me a kind note soon afterwards. We kept in touch — which was Doug’s way. We shared a deep love for sea-run cutthroat trout, and Doug encouraged me to write my book, “Fly Fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat.” When it came out, he wrote a kind, thoughtful review. Doug was thoughtful and generous in every way, and one of my most treasured fishing memories isn’t about catching a big fish. It was we I sat with Doug in Joe Uhlman’s living room a couple of Septembers ago, and we talked about flies, fishing, writing, cooking and Labrador Retrievers.
Throughout the conversation,I felt, very clearly, that I was living in the right way. Early the next morning, Doug rose before dawn to say goodbye when I left to fish a tide with my close friend Greg Cloud. I felt so lucky driving away. Doug was a rock — and I felt so strongly that we had years of friendship ahead of us. Doug’s legacy is multi-faceted, but, for me, he was one of the great guys. He lived a great life, full of love for Eliana, his family, his dogs, his friends, the Peninsula, wild fish and ducks. All of these loves fit together for Doug as seamlessly and naturally as the daily cycle of tides. Doug shared that joy with all of us each day of his life. What a life he led.
Hood River, Oregon
When I think of Doug, I think of an afternoon of talking, a comfortable, idle, ambling chat on a late summer day with a cool breeze that brought the hint of colder days and ducks on the wing. I had been thinking of someday moving to someplace on the Peninsula to be closer to good cutthroat fishing and I wanted Doug’s advice. He knew the country and would give me good counsel. I called him, hoping that he wouldn’t mind giving me a hour or two of his time.
I met him at the gas station and the convenience store in Brinnon. I followed him down the lane that ended near the Canal and the modest house that he and Eliana rented. He invited me inside for a soda. I admired his grandfather’s 12 gauge double in the corner and scratched Lily’s ears. Then, we took the swampy trail from the house to the driftwood duck blind on the gravel spit on the Canal, where in a few months, Doug and Lily would hide themselves from scudding Pintails until the right moment. We spent a delightful several hours discussing life on the Peninsula and I tried to absorb everything Doug said about the area and the fishing. He was as gracious with his time and knowledge as he could be and he seemed pleased to be of help. I felt I knew then for sure what a treasured friend he would be and what a rare and valued a companion he was.
It is never easy to lose such a friend. But sometimes, given all life’s slings and arrows, it is enough that we had the moments we did and they can carry us forward.
My acquaintance with Doug Rose began more than twenty years ago when he called to ask if he could interview me for his “Great Outdoors” column in the Port Townsend Jefferson County Leader, ostensibly after he had read somewhere that a painting of mine had been chosen for the 1990 Washington State Salmon Stamp. Being somewhat of a recluse, I was a little reluctant about the idea until he confessed that the location of my studio had something to do with his choice of me and my artwork as a subject for the column. In fact, while he never actually said so, I’m fairly certain that the idea to interview me would not have occurred to him if he hadn’t also read that my studio was on the Upper Hoh Road and therefore in relatively close proximity to some of his favorite fly water. I could hardly deny a fellow fly fisherman such a great chance to mix business with pleasure and so a few days later, after spending the morning on the river, he appeared at my door and we shook hands for the first time. By the time we had finished the interview and he left the studio to get in a few more casts before heading home, I think we both felt as though we were old friends. Even so, it was some time - two or three years if my memory is correct - before we met again, but still, when he visited the studio that second time to watch me tie a Sol Duc Spey and talk about steelhead fly fishing and flies for his informative and wonderfully evocative Fly Fishing the Olympic Peninsula, it was as if very little time had passed between the two occasions. It’s hard to believe that we never managed to go fishing together, never spent much time in each other’s company. That I regret, but I’m glad that we managed to keep in touch and that our visits had become much more frequent in recent years. It’s been a very, very long time since I last went fishing. It’s now September, a good time to skate flies over steelhead. Maybe I’ll dust off the rod & reel, tie some flies, find my wading shoes and go see how the years have treated my favorite runs on the Calawah. If I do, I’m pretty sure that Doug will be there with me.
On March 11, 2013 we lost our good friend, Doug Rose. Doug left a large legacy. His books and essays will continue to be read by our generation and by generations to come. For those of us who had the good fortune of knowing him and spending time with him I’m sure we will bump into his spirit from time to time. It might be when we come across one of his books that we tucked away or go to a beach or stream on which we were with him. It happened to me two days before his memorial service. I decided it was time to go to the feed store and buy the seeds for this year’s garden. I pulled out my garden file and right on top was a note that Doug sent me on May 20th 2009. In the note he told me that the greens he planted were Arugula, Broccoli raab and a red topped romaine. Needless to say I bought and planted them. When we used them in our salads this summer I’m sure Doug’s spirit was at the table with us. So stay alert, Doug will be around.
We all miss you, my friend.
Whenever I crossed the bridge to Indian Island, I always looked south along the beach to see if I could spot Doug. Often he would be there, fishing, guiding, or walking with his dog. I looked forward to meeting up with him and having a chat, swapping flies and stories, and fishing for sea-run cutthroat. I still cross that bridge frequently and I still find myself looking for him there. I wish I knew him longer.
Like many, I first came to know Doug through his writings. I enjoyed his writing style and appreciated the respect, passion, and concern he had for our anadromous fish. Eventually, our paths would cross on the great steelhead rivers of the Olympic Peninsula and we became friends. On one such occasion, we shared a cutthroat filled bend pool on the upper Bogachiel River. We caught many that day and I remember the fun we had trying to find a fly pattern which the cutts wouldn’t take. Neither of us possessed such afly. I wish I knew him longer.
Doug Rose combines the best of all possible worlds as a fly fishing guide. His almost daily hunt, over many years, for Olympic Peninsula and Hood Canal steelhead, sea-run cutthroat and salmon means that he knows practically every nook and cranny of our rivers, streams and estuaries, and when and where they hold fish. His study of the biology and behavior of fish, and their food, means that he can always recommend an effective fly to use. His knowledge of our local history and culture make him an enjoyable companion over a day of fishing. His love of nature, his lyrical prose and his direct and descriptive style make his books and magazine articles an attractive alternative when a crackling fire replaces the raging Sol Duc or Hoh on a wild winter day.
Kitsap Fly Anglers
To My American-Italian Friend (Paisano) Doug Rose
Paisano – a word used by Italians toward other Italians meaning “Italian brother.” “Ay paisano, how ya doin’?”
I grew up in a New England Italian-Polish-American family. Doug did not. Yet he was one of the most Italian-American friends I had in my adult life on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. His favorite food to eat and cook, other than his wife Eliana’s homemade cookies that are truly amazing and so delicious, was Italian…mine, too! He used to laugh and tell me that he thought he must have a little Italian in there somewhere. He knew enough about Italian cooking and eating that we could share Italian food stories, experiences, and recipes as “Paisanos.” His Tuscan Bean Soup, his Italian Clam, Sausage and Fennel chowder were delicious and well known among friends and clients who booked a full day trip with lunch included!
Some of his favorite foods are oysters, clams and the shellfish of Puget Sound. Many years ago, he worked for Coast Oyster Co. in Quilcene and was the kind of employee who loved the benefits of fresh clams and oysters whenever he wanted them. Back then, the employee health benefits were pretty slim, but the harvest benefits were excellent. About the time Doug was getting out of the shellfish game and into writing and guiding, I was running my own oyster company and had the luxury of being able to bring him fresh oysters from time to time to satisfy his “oyster jones.” We always shucked a few on the beach while chasing Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout.
When my son, Max, was old enough to start to understand the meaning of words, I told him that, if you were a kind, caring, and loving person in life, then kind, caring, and loving acts would come back to you. If you were able to be that person, then life would reward you. Doug Rose was that kind, caring, and loving person to many people who knew him personally and through his writings and guiding. When we got together to fish and talk, he was always kind to me by his listening and interaction with my mind and soul. I know he truly cared because he always looked me in the eye when we talked and I did the same because I truly believed he cared. How many people do you know in your life who will personally “champion” you and your cause without any expectation of personal or financial gain other than the fact that they truly cared and championed you and your cause because they loved you and believed in you? Doug was all of the above. Since his passing, I hear Doug everywhere I go fishing. I often hear the same comments from friends and soon to be friends I run into while chasing Cutthroat around the Peninsula. Many of Doug’s fishing pals have told me they have felt him by their side while wandering the beaches and estuaries he loved so dearly. It’s very difficult at times to go Cutthroat or Steelhead fishing and not think about Doug Rose. And now, for awhile, it will be with some hesitation and some sadness that we will never again fish together for our “favorite” fish at some of our “favorite” haunts. We are not alone Paisanos. Stay in touch with each other. Doug would want it that way.
Beaver ponds come and go, but if you bring your love and curiosity to a place over and over, through and beyond time, grace always shows up. It started as just something to do on a Saturday in the autumn. A fine, uninterrupted walk with Lillybelle Rose, our sweet brown-eyed girl, along old skid roads and through gulleys, not so far to drive. Aiming towards the tree line, we walked and talked and scrambled and wondered our way to a damp, low spot. Found a length of fishing line stretching through the woods and, both loving, like nine-year-olds, the adventure of exploring, bush-whacked, hypothesized, and laughed our way along the length of this mysterious clue. As we became somewhat worn and discouraged, we called Lily. There she was, perhaps 10 feet to our left, patiently running back and forth along a trail. We shoulda known. This place, this adventure, became our treasure, our wonderland. Season after season, wet and freezing, blooming with skunk cabbage and wild strawberries and licorice ferns and rhododendrons, stuck in the mud and roasting and thirsty when we got disoriented. Walking, talking, celebrating Lily and life, and endlessly wondering about this place and places beyond. Year after year. My companion of the road. We did finally find the overgrown beaver pond. Maybe it’s recovering even now. Ruby and I went back in the Spring. It’s very different and it’s the same. It’s a place of sweetness. May you find such a place or return to it if you’ve let it slip away for a while.