Interview with Henry Winkler
For Childrens Hospital‘s Sy Mittleman, “gone fishin'” is more than just a potential tattoo: it’s a way of life.
By David Wolinksy
There was a time when Henry Winkler was the personification of cool, but these days he’s all about letting his freak flag fly. Which, of course, makes him even cooler. Today, the Childrens Hospital co-star (new episodes every Thursday at midnight, E/P) has traded in his leather jacket for rubber and Gore-Tex boots, which he wears every year on his secret nerdy trips to go flyfishing. Well, okay, it isn’t so secret — he put a book about it, I’ve Never Met An Idiot On The River, earlier this year.
Now that the secret’s out, we gave Winkler a call to talk about his unexpected hobby, why he doesn’t dare eat a trout, and also to get kinda deep and philosophical and stuff. (Don’t worry, we don’t talk about jumping sharks.)
Another Lonely Weekend
How did you get started with fly-fishing?
My lawyer took us in about 1992 to Saint Helena, Montana. We went down the Smith River. I caught nothing, except the bug to fish.
If you didn’t catch anything, what did you like about the experience so much?
Well, you’re in the most beautiful place on the earth. It’s serene. You have to concentrate on you and the fish because you’re watching your fly. You’ve got a quarter of a second to make sure that fly sets if a fish strikes. The sound of the rushing water, the feel of the rushing water — it’s like a washing machine for your brain.
“The sound of the rushing water, the feel of the rushing water — it’s like a washing machine for your brain.”
You know what it is? It’s like a dichotomy because on the one hand I am more relaxed than I am anywhere in the world. On the other hand, I am still competitive with myself in order to catch a beautiful trout. So I’ve got these two sides competing against each other, no pun intended.
I could have had it longer in my life, if I hadn’t denied [myself]. I played softball for the Happy Days softball team, and I never really played sports before. I was a water skier, I was a camp counselor, and I taught water skiing. I horseback rode. I was pretty good with a bow and arrow, just pretty good. Those were the only things that I did. I never played ball because I knew I didn’t have eye-hand coordination. And then I just loved every single game we played. I wake up in the morning, I get dressed at about 6 in the morning, I am rarin’ to go, and I can’t get to the boat until 8, anyway.
What’s the most impressive catch you’ve made?
Well, last year I caught my largest trout ever, which was about six pounds, 26 inches long.