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Today’s sportsman: fly fisherman, environmentalist, friend – that was the life of Bob Abraham | Travel and outdoors


The fly fishing community in Maryland has suffered a significant loss with the sudden death of one of our most beloved members. Robert W. Abraham of Thurmont will be remembered for his long-standing love of the outdoors, his duty to our country and his many contributions to the sport of fly fishing.

Abraham was a close friend of many fly fishing legends, including Joe Brooks and Lefty Kreh. Over the years he has been a member of many fishing and conservation organizations including the Potomac Valley Fly Fishers, Antietam Fly Anglers, Friends of Big Hunting Creek, Fly Fishers Club of Harrisburg, Forest and Stream Club of Westminster and the Brotherhood of the Jungle Rooster. He has also been a supporting member of the Monocacy Valley National Wild Turkey Federation for decades. He and his wife, Barbara, never missed their annual banquet. The Abrahams celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary last summer.

Abraham enlisted in the service of our country during the Korean War and served as a sergeant in the Army Security Agency. During his time on duty, Abraham was also a member of the All-American Marksmanship Team. He then put together a winning marksmanship team for the US Army Reserves at Fort Detrick and served as its captain.

After his military career, Abraham worked 30 years for the state of Maryland as a game warden, with fisheries and wildlife, and later in public relations for the Department of Natural Resources. He retired in 1985. After his retirement he worked as a fishing guide on the Potomac River and local trout streams.

Abraham’s life has been devoted to educating young people, having served for over 60 years as a mentor in the Brotherhood of the Jungle Rooster, as Director of Education for many years, and as as president of the BOJC in 1976-77.

The BOJC organization was founded in 1940 in the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County by a group of conservation-minded fly fishermen. As stated in the BOJC’s credo, adult members commit to “taking at least one boy out fishing every year, educating him, as we know, in responsibilities that will soon be entirely his”. The BOJC’s credo is prominently displayed at the Joe Brooks monument located along Big Hunting Creek. Abraham was a true embodiment of the spirit of this organization.

Abraham once told me how he was first introduced to the organization by a prominent Maryland fly fisherman named Gurney Godfrey. A rainy spring day in 1958. He was walking through Catoctin Mountain Park when he saw a fly fisherman walking along the road. He stopped and offered to drive the fisherman to his vehicle which was parked in the Camp Peniel parking lot.

Abraham was working for the Maryland DNR at the time as a game warden. The fisherman agreed to the ride and introduced himself as Godfrey, from Baltimore. He informed the Warden that he was in the area this weekend for the Jungle Cock Brotherhood campfire being held nearby at Camp Airy in Thurmont.

Godfrey thanked Abraham for the ride and invited him to dinner that night at camp. Abraham attended the dinner wearing his DNR uniform. He joined BOJC that evening, sponsored by Godfrey. This chance meeting was the start of a great friendship between the two fly fishermen and the start of a close bond between Abraham and the BOJC program.

Abraham treated everyone he met like family, always greeting old and new friends with a cheerful smile and genuine warmth. This was very evident in the bond he made with the young people he mentored and inspired during BOJC Campfire Weekends. Every year at the BOJC, Bob could be found sitting under an awning near the lower pond with a table displaying a large assortment of trout flies. The flies were offered to all the youngsters for use on the ponds. Many of the young people present caught their first trout on one of his flies.

Throughout the weekend, the boys, including my son Nathaniel, would run to “Mr. Abraham” under the canopy to proudly show him their grip. He was always so supportive of young people. He spent much of his free time. home to fly flies all to be donated I know over the past few years he has donated dozens of flies to the annual PVFF banquet.

I had the honor of providing transportation for Abraham to PVFF meetings when asked. Over the years, my wife and I have enjoyed the company of Abraham at the PVFF and NWTF banquets. In recent years, PVFF casting clinics have been preceded by dinners in Middletown and a stop for ice cream on the way home. A few years ago, he was the fly tier guest for PVFF. He knotted his “dirty bird” nymph motif.

Abraham was highly respected and appreciated by all for his willingness to share his knowledge and experience as an outdoor enthusiast. He was a versatile environmentalist when it came to hunting and fishing. Despite his age and difficulty walking, he continued to hunt even this year on his mountain property, taking a gobbler last spring and a buck this fall with his crossbow.

In years past, the annual Antietam Fly Anglers picnic was always held at the Abraham family property pond near Camp David. Members were invited to bring their fly rods while Abraham and others provided casting instructions. The Bob Abraham Casting Club has a long standing AFA tradition for members and each spring they sponsor a casting meet in Williamsport in honor of Abraham.

Abraham was also a dedicated environmentalist, most notably the first advocate for the ethics of capture and release in Maryland. His efforts helped establish a catch and release fishery on Big Hunting Creek in Thurmont. Abraham was a supporter of freshwater fishing and the management of the rivers in Maryland that stretched beyond the Catoctin Mountains.