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Remembering Neal Taylor


Neal Taylor

Neal Taylor

Courtesy photo

Legendary California fly fisherman Neal Taylor passed away last month and thought I’d pass the news and a couple stories about Neal on to my fellow fly fishers.

Taylor, a retired Cachuma Lake naturalist who died Feb. 15 at the age of 74, was a nationally renown fly fishing expert who also taught fly fishing to everyone from U.S. presidents to college-aged and extended-learning students at UCLA, Cal State Bakersfield, Moorpark College and Cal Poly.

I was fortunate enough to sit in on a few of his classes at Cal Poly a few years ago, and it well worth the price of enrollment just to hear his classic fishing tales.

Along with being a world-class fly angler, Taylor was also an amazing storyteller. In fact, that’s what many of us will remember about him.

As my old colleague Wayne Shaw wrote in a fish report for The Tribune last year, “The retired Cachuma Lake naturalist spent nearly 20 years spinning tall tales while guiding nature cruises around the lake.”

Along with spinning great stories, he also spun a great fly line, teaching even the best fly fishers a thing or two on the water.

Among the anglers he taught were four presidents, beginning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Platte River in Colorado while Taylor was in the Air Force.

While I regrettably didn’t sit in on more than a handful of his classes, I learned a ton about entomology and even discovered some new local fly fishing spots because of him, so I, like many anglers, and my children for that matter, will forever be in debt to him for that fly-fishing wisdom.

Thanks again Neal, you will be missed.

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