Fishing

A rod and reel bridge the age and income gap

Famed Boise angler Winston Moore shows one of the 112 elusive saltwater permit he caught on a fly rod.
Famed Boise angler Winston Moore shows one of the 112 elusive saltwater permit he caught on a fly rod. Provided by Winston Moore

Life has a funny way of hitting us with the unexpected.

About a year ago, I met a gentleman named Winston Moore. At first glance, Winston and I have very little in common.

He’s in his 90s; I’m in my 30s.

He’s a self-made multimillionaire and one of the most successful businessmen in Idaho history; I’ve never seen a million dollars, and I probably never will.

But our mutual friend, Marty Holly, introduced us because of one great commonality — a deep and insatiable love of fishing.

A week later, Winston and I were huddled over a conference table at his Meridian office. Marty was right: we hit it off right away. Swapping fishing stories with a man I’d just met felt more like shooting the breeze with an old friend. As we took turns trading tales of battles won and lost, a wry smile spread across Winston’s face.

“You’ve got it,” he said with a laugh. “It’s rare, but you’ve got it. I can tell. You’re just like me.”

The “it” Winston refers to is hard to describe. For people like us, fishing isn’t a hobby. It is a deeply ingrained part of our identity, one that fills us with an inner joy and wonder that never gets old.

Winston’s angling accolades far outweigh mine. His fly-fishing career included landing six marlin, 112 permit, 138 sailfish, 600 tarpon and 6,000 bonefish (I’m only 5,997 behind him). His prowess as a fisherman is hardly surprising once you get to know him. In addition to “it,” Winston has the rare ability to pour his complete heart and soul into everything he does. Which is probably why he’s so successful.

Most Boiseans probably don’t know it, but our city would look much different had Winston not moved here in 1957. He helped build much of BoDo, Boise Towne Square mall and other business developments throughout the Valley. If you see a street named after a saltwater game fish, you can bet Winston was behind it.

Winston put his innovative mind to use on the water, too. He was a pioneer in using fly gear to catch big sailfish and marlin. One of his businesses was a chain of sporting goods stores, and he used his connections to test and refine different rods and reels for his unique fishing methods.

As it turns out, Winston and I also share a love of Belize. I’ve only been there once (it’s where I caught my three bonefish), but Winston went as many as seven times in a single season. During a recent chat, he told me the story of the biggest tarpon he ever caught in Belize. Estimated at 212 pounds, the fish took him more than 6 hours to land.

“I can still see him now, all covered in barnacles,” Winston said. “It would have been the world record if we weighed it in, but I never fished for records. I just wanted to see it swim away.”

Just like it always does, our hour together zipped by in a flash. But Winston had a parting gift for me — a copy of his biography, with a handwritten note inside.

“To Jordan Rodriguez, who shares my passion for fishing and God’s great outdoors.”

It might be the only thing I ever have in common with Winston Moore. But you know what? I’ll take it.

Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.com.

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