This is the first in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.
Today, Olive interviews her mentor, Camp Tightloops counselor, and all around good guy, Mr. Muddler Minnow.
Olive: Hi, Mr. Muddler Minnow–it’s great to see you!
MMM: Thanks for having me on the show today, Olive.
Olive: Let’s get right down to business. You are, of course, a Muddler Minnow. What’s your favorite way to catch fish?
MMM: Well, I’m a classic old streamer, easily recognized by my spun deer hair head. There’s nothing I like more than swinging through the current and being strip-retrieved in short tugs. I love to zip and dart!
Olive: Me too! In fact, you’re the one who taught me to zip and dart! Up until then I thought I wanted to be a dry fly, but after you showed me my purpose in life I never looked back. What is it you like so much about zipping and darting?
MMM: As you know, Olive, big fish like to eat streamers because streamers represent very large insects, wounded baitfish, or just about any other form of aquatic food. And we represent a large meal. All size fish will try to snatch us up, but it’s the big fish that really go for streamers. When streamers are tugged in short bursts, the action of zipping and darting drives fish crazy! I’m specifically tied to look like a sculpin, which is a small type of fish that larger fish love to eat. Streamers are irresistible.
Olive: I agree! So would you say that streamer fishing is the best way to fly fish?
MMM: I don’t want to say that one method is better than another, because all styles of fly fishing have their benefits. I can also be used as a dry fly in certain instances, skated across the surface of the water. That can be a very exciting way to catch fish as well. It’s all good–that’s what makes fly fishing so fun.
Olive: That’s so cool. Sometimes I still wish I could float, but it’s OK that I don’t.
MMM: We’re all different, Olive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need to embrace what makes us unique and do our very best. And we also need to acknowledge that everyone has a purpose in life, and we shouldn’t judge others just because they’re different than us.
Olive: That’s for sure. You taught me that, and I may have never made it into The Fly Box if you hadn’t! So, tell me, are you retired now?
MMM: Well, I’m not sure if I can ever retire. As you know, I’ve been retired before, but I seem to have a hard time staying away from the water. I love to fish. I may not fish as often as I used to, but I love being in The Fly Box where I can help some of the younger flies learn their trade. And some of those grumpy old veterans can get a little bit critical sometimes so I need to keep them in check.
Olive: It’s fun to listen to the old timers argue and tell old stories.
MMM: Most of the stories they tell aren’t quite accurate, Olive. Much of what they’re saying are half-truths.
Olive: What do you mean by half-truths, sir?
MMM: (laughs) Well, most of the time the old veterans don’t remember how big the fish were that they caught a long time ago. Over time, the size of those fish tends to get bigger.
Olive: That’s funny. But isn’t it true that long ago there were a lot more fish in the rivers? You know, back when the veterans were just rookies themselves?
MMM: Yes, that’s absolutely the case, Olive. I can confirm that when I was a much younger fly, the rivers had a lot more fish in them than most do today. It was a rare thing to go fishing and not come home with your limit.
Olive: So back in the olden days you kept your fish?
MMM: Sadly, yes. We didn’t practice catch and release back then. We caught fish and kept them. We thought the fish were in endless supply. We didn’t mean to do anything wrong, we just didn’t know differently.
Olive: But now there aren’t as many fish, and most of the time it’s catch and release when we go fishing. Do you still enjoy it?
MMM: Oh, absolutely. The thrill of finding a fish and convincing the fish that I’m a real meal–that’s what I enjoy. I love the game of tug-of-war once I hook a big fish. I don’t mind releasing the fish one bit. You’re familiar with the expression, “There’s more to fishing than catching fish.” That’s very true. I just enjoy being outdoors in a natural setting, being cast into a beautiful piece of water, and looking for fish. And now I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping others become better fly fishing flies.
Olive: Do you ever keep fish any more?
MMM: Not often, but occasionally. When I’m fishing in a lake that has stocked trout, for example, I enjoy keeping a fish or two. Or when I have the occasion to fish for steelhead, I’ll definitely keep a hatchery fish. That’s why those fish were placed there: to be caught and kept. But I always release wild fish.
Olive: One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Mr. Muddler Minnow, who would you choose?
MMM: Wow, that’s a tough choice, Olive. There are so many great actors with very distinct voices…three come to mind immediately: Wilford Brimley, Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck. There’s something about either of those gentleman that I can identify with. I hear they’re all fly fishermen, and I’d be honored if they were to play the voice of me.