Remembering a Gentleman

Posted by & filed under HARROP'S FORKED TONGUES.

To my knowledge, he never lived in Idaho but Jim Dean was as much a part of the Henry’s Fork fishing community as nearly any resident.

For several decades this unique man from North Carolina was a regular summer feature on the river and the lives he touched were many. For many of us, the fishing season could not begin until Jim’s arrival and for a few weeks each year we were graced by his company.

From the beginning, we knew that Jim could fish and his flies were exquisite, but it was more than his talents as an angler and fly tyer that set him apart from others of equal skill.

You learned within minutes of conversation that here was a man of extraordinary passion and sensitivity. Whether written or expressed vocally, Jim’s words for the things he truly cared about were almost poetic.

Prolific as a writer, Jim’s books and magazine articles communicated not only sound information but also a message of reverence for water and the life it sustains. He was a thinker of the highest order and I believe he wanted to understand everything.

An amazing memory was a quality that stood out among many of admirable substance. Jim seemed to remember every name and date of even modest significance. And though never intended on his part, one could feel somewhat intellectually inadequate in his company.

Jim was not a young man but his recent passing came as a shock to those who knew him to be physically and mentally vibrant as a person of far fewer years. But he lived and died with equal dignity, and therein lays his legacy.

Patient, kind, and mannerly, Jim Dean will be remembered as a true southern gentleman. Rest well old friend.


Editor's Note: Consider reading Jim's last blog for TroutHunter. Undoubtedly, we will have a celebration of our great friend's life in June on the Henry's Fork.


  1. Steve Guest

    We will miss you, our Friend. Our love. Steve and Sue Guest

  2. Sarah Grigg

    I was 21 and waiting tables at TH when I first met Jim and the Carolina crew. I remember serving Jimmy a burger and as I set the plate down before him, he looked up at me and said, "You realize fly fishermen are not born. They come into this world as if shot from a cannon and are lost somewhere over the horizon." I stopped what I was doing and wrote that quote on a bar napkin. A lot of wise people taught me a lot of wise things on the Henry's Fork and Jimmy Dean was certainly among them. He encouraged me from the get-go to write and I did my best to listen to that seasoned scribe. Your stories and words live on Jim, on our book shelves and on the bar napkins we've carefully tucked away for eternal inspiration.

  3. Tom Watkins

    Very nice tribute Rene'. I like Andrew, met Jimmy at TroutHunter. Jimmy always had a hello and a smile for all those who knew him. I always looked forward to Jimmy's arrival on the Henry's Fork. He was the cog for the North Carolina folks. He will be missed by all of us that called Jimmy our friend. Rest in Peace Jimmy.

  4. Scott Dean

    Thank you for the kind words Rene. It's going to be very hard to fish from now on and not see him standing there watching me with his pipe. It's still hard to accept he's no longer with us. He lived his life to the fullest, enjoying what the great outdoors has to offer. Despite the hurt, Nikki and I will continue to carry on his beliefs and get out there and fish! I know someday we will fish together again. I miss you dad.

  5. Andrew Farrar

    I first met Mr. Dean while working at Trouthunter in 2003. As a young North Carolina teenager washing dishes and working in the fly shop, he befriended me, took me under his wing, and taught me a great deal about the Henry's Fork. Jim Dean is revered in the Mid-Atlantic sporting community for the reasons Rene mentioned. In his published obituary, his family directs those wishing to make memorial gifts to the NC Wildlife Endowment and the Henry's Fork Foundation. A fine man of the highest character.

  6. John Albano

    Rene, Very nice! I appreciated Jim’s sense of humor. He was an accomplished writer, fisherman and painter. He never took himself very seriously. Jim was always happy just being in the outdoors. He and I may have set the lodge record for the most tarpon missed in a single day. One of my most enjoyable fishing days. I will miss him. John Albano

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