If you do something long enough, you’re going to be good.
Do it for a lifetime, you’ll be considered a legend.
Two legends in the fly fishing world came together on Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Stanley Cooper Sr. Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Legendary fly tyer Stanley Cooper Jr., who resides in Hanover and is a chapter member, and world-renowned fly fisherman Joe Humphreys, who was the featured speaker.
Cooper, 88, has tied flies for a living for 67 years and to this day his love of the craft is evident.
“Every morning I can’t wait to go upstairs and go to work,” he said.
Humphreys, 84, has taught fly fishing for over 40 years, including 19 years at Penn State. He’s authored two books, numerous articles, hosted a fly fishing series on ESPN and has been the featured speaker at countless functions all over the world.
But Tuesday’s presentation at the SCTU meeting in Kingston was different for Humphreys. His wife Gloria, who traveled with him from their State College home, knew it.
“He doesn’t speak at many TU chapters anymore,” she said. “But this chapter is special.”
Because it brings Humphreys full circle with his fellow fly fishing icon - Cooper.
It all began more than 70 years ago when a friendship developed between Cooper’s father, Stan Sr., and George Harvey - a fly fishing legend who created and taught the famed fly fishing course at Penn State in 1942. Through the course, Humphreys befriended Harvey and Cooper Sr. Soon after, Cooper Jr. and Humphreys became friends and, later, Mike Romanowski, who was one of Humphreys’ students at Penn State, and went on to create the SCTU chapter in 1987.
So, when Humphreys comes back to the area to address the chapter, it’s not just another speaking gig.
It’s a reunion.
“I’ve come here every year since 1989 and I’ve made a lot of friends,” Humphreys said. “I know the people here and I enjoy the comraderie.”
And they know him as well.
After Humphreys wrapped up his presentation, just about everyone in attendance waited in line for him to sign a book or video. They shared stories, asked questions and just appreciated every second they could spend with a legend.
And the legend appreciated it as well.
Humphreys doesn’t travel the world like he used to and he’s cut back on the speaking engagements.
But when the SCTU chapter calls, Humphreys responds.
“I come here because I want to come here. It’s fun,” he said.
Humphreys opened the meeting with an impromptu casting demonstration in the parking lot outside. With ease, he cast his fly line with pinpoint accuracy - even using his rod as a bow to shoot the line to a precise location (the bow cast is actually useful in tight quarters).
“I’m not giving you stuff to use just on the first day (of trout season),” Humphreys said. “I’m giving you stuff that you can use for the rest of your life.”
After he signed his last autograph of the night and packed up, Humphreys reflected on how things went.
“Maybe there’s something I did here this evening that someone will latch onto,” he said.
There was plenty, but just being in the presence of two legends of the fly fishing world tops the list.
That fact wasn’t lost on Cooper and Humphreys, who made each other a promise before bidding farewell.
“Stay healthy and well. We’ve got to keep on doing this,” Cooper told his longtime friend as they embraced.
Humphreys assured Cooper that he will be back, possibly for the chapter banquet in September.
After all, they both have a lot more work to do.
“There’s a lot of history here,” Humphreys said. “Stan is history. So is my mentor, George Harvey, and Stan’s father. We’re all related not only in history but tradition. I don’t want those traditions to be forgotten.”