Monday, April 8, 2013

20 Questions: Jay Zimmerman

Jay Zimmerman
I've only shared time with Jay Zimmerman once--we tipped a few beers in Denver during a gathering of writers and bloggers a few months back. But Jay is one of those guys who's simply hard to miss in this incestuous little community we've chosen. He's outspoken. He can be a little crass. But he's thoughtful and I think he's really smart.

One minute you're thinking, "Dude, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" and the next you're wishing aloud, "Damn, I'd love to be able to enunciate my thoughts that profoundly ... at least once."

A lot of you may know Jay as the significant other who's attached to Erin Block, the fine young writer who's recently penned a book and whose work appears regularly in TROUT Magazine. But Jay's carved a niche in the fly fishing world all his own--he's a hell fly tyer, and he's not a bad writer in his own right. He has his own following (and his own book on the market), and rightly so.

I feel fortunate that I got to spend some time with Jay and Erin in Denver a few months ago, and I look forward to the opportunity to share a drink with them again sometime soon.

On with the questions:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Enjoying dinner and a bottle of wine at home with my girlfriend after a long day exploring a high country trout stream. Not expecting something so trite and cheesy from me, where you? (Nope. -ed)

Ulysses S. Grant
Which historical figure do you most identify with and why? 
Ulysses S. Grant. I don’t imagine myself to be a general or even mildly presidential, but the guy was an exemplary soldier and leader, and did much to help stabilize our country during a very difficult era…but is disrespected by many historians. Mainly because he drank too much. (I am sure this will draw fire from many of my southern friends, but relax. I would have fought for Lee if given the chance, for no other reason than I tend to be rebellious and like to throw my hat in with the underdog.)

Which living person do you most admire? 
My dad…because he made the life he wanted for himself, worked hard to get it and is happy.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
I am an angry and violent person and I don’t want to be. I spend more time each day attempting to keep that under wraps and out of sight of family, friends and the general public.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
I have zero tolerance for rude or condescending attitudes and behavior. And I have found that retaliating with the same rude or condescending behavior, just with more authority, is the most rewarding way to remedy the situation.

On what occasion do you lie? 
I hold honesty as maybe the highest virtue anyone of us can posses. And I pride myself in being one who tells the truth. I will, however, lie readily. But only if someone forces me to. If someone I hardly know demands I join them for a day of fishing on the Dream Stream (vomit) and makes it obvious they are not going to drop the subject…I will promise to be there and not blink an eye.

Jay's recurring nightmare.
Which living person do you most despise? 
Ann Coulter

What is the one decision you’ve made over the course of your life that you would make differently today? 
My initial answer to this question was “I would not have left Alaska.” But that is not true. There were years after I left that are some of the more horrible years of my life, but they did lead me to where I am now, so…

What or who is the greatest love of your life? 
I met this amazing writer and fellow angler who has changed my life…Erin Block. Maybe one day I will actually get to meet her. If you ever read this, Erin…I love you! Wanna, like, go out or something…?

What would be the name of a unique fly pattern that you designed? 
The fly I am the most proud of is the “Texas Ringworm”.

What is your most treasured possession? 
The pocket knife my dad gave me when I was a boy. I gutted my first deer with that knife, carried it with me every day while in the Army…every jump I ever made. I kept it tied to my belt with parachute cord.

Where would you like to live? 
I have spent my entire life looking for a cabin in the mountains near a hundred miles of small, remote trout streams. And, yes…I found one!

Who are your favorite writers? 
Erin Block, Ernest Hemingway, John Gierach, Thomas McGuane and Norman Maclean…
Nice choice for the favorite writer list...

What’s your favorite childhood memory? 
A particular two-week deer hunt when I was 16…it was just me and my dad and it was the first time he spoke to me like I was a man. I think I stopped being a boy on that hunt.

How would you like to die? 
Like most men I want to die with my boots on. A fight to the death with a brown bear would be the best way to go out, I believe. I don’t live on Kodiak anymore, and these punk ass little black bears in Colorado always just run away, so my odds of an honorable death have diminished greatly…

What is your definition of religion? 
The oldest and most effective way to keep a large population obedient and under control.

You’re on airplane, and you’ve been told it’s going to crash. You have time to make one phone call… who do you call and why? 
A paramedic friend of mine… “Hey, Rob! Race ya to the crash sight!”

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
“Wrong stop, asshole. Get back on the bus.”

Which actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life, and why? 
Peter Stomare
Peter Stormare…think Steve Buscemi’s wingman in Fargo. I am equally handsome and I like wood chippers.

What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? 
Had a few brushes in the Army, but never really thought I was going to die. Was too young, I guess. The only time I ever figured I was finished was the time I fell off the side of a mountain in Alaska. I was guiding some hunters, so I had a very large pack on my back. It saved my life. I passed one of my clients about halfway down the side of the mountain and he told me later he thought I was already dead. I was bouncing 10 feet into the air every time I hit the ground, he said. I will add that I beat him down the mountain that day and packed out his son's first moose before the day was done.

If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? 
About 11,000 B.C….I would love to spend a season with some nomadic big-game hunters.


  1. I think I would enjoy clinking glass w Mr. Zimmerman. That was a great interview. My regards to Ms. Block.

  2. Dude's dreamin'. That Erin ain't never gonna call.

  3. Just think woolly mammoth hair flies!

  4. Great interview. That's Jay!

  5. Great interview. I don't think I've ever heard an answer to meeting god like that before. haha

  6. Glad you all stopped by... Jay, thanks for the great answers. Looking forward to tipping a glass soon with you and the "old lady."

  7. Great interview! I have enjoyed reading all of them!