Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00
The picturesque idea of standing peacefully in a gentle stream, the wind in your hair and the gentle caress of nature about you might sound like nothing more than a fantasy for those who have grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the suburbs. However, for Tom McCoy, this ideal often becomes a reality through the sport of fly fishing.
McCoy, author of How to Fly Fish for Trout: The First Book to Read, was born and raised in Westbury, and spent the days of his youth fishing in Whitney Pond and The Meadow Brook. McCoy first encountered trout back in 1957 in the East Durham area of New York’s Catskills, otherwise known as the “Irish Alps,” he said.
“My family was vacationing there at a boarding house. I was 10 years old at the time,” he said. “My father took me down to the river, got me a drop line, cut down a sapling, put a hook on it, and we caught a trout...that was the beginning of it.”
McCoy started fly fishing regularly as a teenager, and as he got older, became more and more enamored. Now in his late 70’s, he says it’s a way of life for him, something that amounts to far more than merely the act of catching a fish. Fly fishing, McCoy says, is a wonderful way to commune with nature itself in all her majesty.
“Some of us just gravitate toward the natural world, the primitive ways, the equalizing of the challenge between fisher and fish, the satisfaction of counting coup,” he said. “Historically, the sport was thought of as one for those of means or those with special skills. It’s more than just about catching fish, it just becomes a part of you, a way to connect with nature.”
How to Fly Fish for Trout, which is McCoy’s second published book, began simply as a birthday present for a friend who wanted to learn how to fly fish.
“I went to the book store looking for a book that would make sense to him. I must have gone through 10 books, and none of them were clear or clean or easy to follow. They were all so complicated and scary,” he said. “So, I went home and I wrote him a book of my own and gave it to him. This was almost 10 years ago, and since then the book has grown and been refined, and when I retired last April, I decided to finish it.”
“In a way, it’s a simpler, more primitive way of challenging a fish,” McCoy said of the sport of fly fishing. “For example, the reel is a non-duplicating reel...it’s just line on a spool, that’s all it is. You’re in direct contact with the fish...there’s no mechanical device between you, and the rod doesn’t give you any assistance. It’s very basic and challenging and natural. Man against nature.”
McCoy published How to Fly Fish for Trout on Jan. 6 through Createspace, an Amazon.com company that specializes in print-on-demand books and e-books; the 158 page-book can be purchased through Amazon in either print format or downloaded to the Kindle e-reader. In addition, McCoy’s book is also available physically for purchase at several Long Island sporting good stores in Oceanside, Huntington Kings Park and Northport, which is where McCoy lives now.
McCoy is no stranger to being published; he has written several articles over the years for various periodicals, such as Fly Fishing Magazine and the Catskills Fly Fishing Museum newsletter, among others. However, he said reaching the milestone of publishing his very own book was especially gratifying to him.
“To have something actually out into print like this is absolutely thrilling,” he said. “If you had to do it the old way where you had to get a publisher and a book agent, this never would have happened. But I’ve already sold 200 copies, and I was told I’d be lucky if I sold 20. The book is catching on and it’s an enjoyable read. It’s not instructional in nature. It’s like a friend talking to a friend.”