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Yes, 'Big Fish' Taylor is unorganized; but not on the water
By Steve Wright
Special to GOG

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Brent Taylor was missing, as far as the ESPN Great Outdoor Games organizers were concerned.

After winning the Fly Casting gold medal last year, Taylor was told he had earned an automatic invitation to the 2001 Games.

I'm so unorganized. If it wasnšt for fishing, I'd probably be living in a dumpster somewhere.
Brent Taylor

"I told them I'd see 'em next year," Taylor recalled.

Understandably, the organizers wanted something a little more definite as this year's Games approached … like acknowledgement in the form of repeated mailings to him. Taylor, 26, showed up for the flyfishing competition this week, just as he planned to all along. Of his failure to respond earlier, he just smiled and shrugged.

"I'm so unorganized," Taylor said. "If it wasn't for fishing, I'd probably be living in a dumpster somewhere."

Yes, but there is fishing, and Taylor is a star, if eccentric. "We call him 'Big Fish' Taylor," said Matt Henderson, who also is competing here. Henderson was in charge of a large guide service near Dillon, Mont., when he first observed Taylor in action five years ago.
Flycast event
Matt Henderson puts his all into a cast.
"I ran 18 guides a day," Henderson said. "The clients that went out with Brent always caught the most fish and had the most fun. The question was always whether Brent would show up for work in the morning. I usually hired a backup, just in case he didn't."

However, there was never any question Taylor would be on the water those days. It was just whether work, even as a fishing guide, would get in the way of his fishing. "He's like an idiot savant of fishing," Henderson said. "At certain times all the other guides would be out on a certain section of water when fishing was tough. Their clients would say, well we caught 10 or 12. Brent would find some tiny creek somewhere and his clients would tell me they caught 64 fish by lunchtime. "Hešs just incredible. Hey, you don't live in the Dillon area unless you're a hardcore fisherman. I know nothing but hardcore fishermen. Brent's the king."

Taylor and Henderson form a mutual admiration society. "Matt's my hero," Taylor said. "He's really taken care of me." Taylor has a streak going. The last day that he didn't spend at least part of it fishing was Nov. 4, 1999. Initially, the goal was to not just fish, but catch at least one fish every day. It reached 250 days before an intestinal bug caught on a trip to Chile left him too queasy to stay on the water. "I tried," Taylor said. "But I got so green. I'd fish for 15 minutes, then throw up."

He's just a fishing machine.
Matt Henderson said of flycasting counterpart Brent Taylor

In retrospect, Taylor says he's glad that fish-catching streak was broken. "I was stressing about it," he said. "I was thinking about all the wrong things. I'm just happy being on the water. I've been blanked several times since then."

But not that many.

According to Taylor, his typical day will be guiding from 7:30 a.m. until mid-afternoon, then fishing on his own until 10 or midnight. "He's just a fishing machine," Henderson said. On Friday, the king of the hardcore fishermen will have only three hours on the Ausable River in the One Fish competition. You can bet that won't be Brent Taylor's last hours of fishing that day.

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