'He's still able to fish the pants off of all of us'

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Anyone who's dropped a line in the North Umpqua River has probably seen him: an 89-year-old man who has made it his life's passion to be a good fisherman.

The North Umpqua is one of the world's premier fly fishing destinations. This river was put on the map thanks largely in part to the work of Frank Moore, fly fishing legend.

Lee Spencer is a fly fisherman, and he told KPIC News that Moore means a lot to the fishing community in Douglas County. "He's the grand old man of fishing in the area," Spencer said. "He's really the spiritual father of probably everyone who's fishing in the area at this point in time."

Eric Figura says that even at his age, Moore still shows them up. "He's still able to fish the pants off of all of us. So, he's pretty incredible. They don't make them like him anymore."

Moore's father inspired him to start fishing at a young age, and that passion has never died.

After fighting in World War II, Moore and his wife Jeanie moved to Roseburg. A few years later, they moved 40 miles east to start the Steamboat Inn.

People flocked to the business, not just for a place to stay, but for a chance to fish with the great Frank Moore. "I had the privilege of being noted, I guess, for my fishing ability," Moore said.

But for Frank, fly fishing isn't just about trying to land a big fish: it's appreciation of the environment. "You don't have to catch the last fish in the river to enjoy the art of fly fishing, to enjoy the presence of what we have around us, and what we have been blessed with."

Frank was one of the first to notice what he said were the negative effects of logging on the river.

He fought for regulations to help protect the environment, and has a wall full of awards celebrating his conservation efforts. "We're blessed to have what we have. Let's take care of it," Frank said.

Now, decades after his first cast in the North Umpqua, Frank is still known for his ability to fish. "I've made it my life's work, and if you do it long enough, you should get better," he said.

Moore says that his hobby has kept him young. "There's something so healing, calmness I guess, and smoothness that has made my life what it is, and has given me the ability to still be what I am at darn near 90-years-old," Frank said. "I'm still blessed that I can still do it. I can still outcast most people."

Frank says it's getting a little harder for him these days. "A bank that's 10 feet wide, 10 feet high now, off the river, 10 or 15 feet high that you have to crawl up, gosh, today instead of being 10 or 15 feet they're a mile high," Frank joked.

His passion for fly fishing is something he never wants to lose. "I hope I still have the desire up until I take my last breath."

Frank will be turning 90 years old in January.

He realizes he's not getting any younger, but says that if he had to pick a way to go, it would be doing one of his favorite things: fishing in this river.