Friend, are you tired of fishing alone? Has the price you pay for bait and gas to get there got you down? Maybe you've told your whopping best stories to the same people so many times they're even smelling fishy to you?
If the answer to these questions is within casting distance of a yes, Fred and Dottie Waddle want you to write a $3 check, that's just 30 thin dimes, and become a full-fledged member of their Fishing Buddy Service.
"I guess we're like a computer dating service for fishermen, except we don't have a computer," says Fred Waddle, a 30-year-old Long Island fisherman and budding entrepreneur who guarantees he will match you with at least one angler in your area to truly call "buddy" within six months or he will refund your money.
"I don't send only one name. I send you maybe 10 to 12 names. If you wrote back to me and said of those 12 people, I didn't like them, I'd send you more," said Waddle in a Brooklyn accent that is 100 proof. "That could go on and on for years."
The Fishing Buddy Service was conceived more than three years ago by Waddle, who was disabled by a back injury he suffered at his job unloading freight trains.
"My wife said to me 'Why aren't you fishing?' I told her I wasn't feeling good enough to go by myself and I didn't have nobody to go with," said Waddle, who remembers that the next thought hit him like Edison's light bulb. "I said, 'I bet there are lots of people who have nobody.' "
Waddle invested some money in leaflets, bought ads in a few Long Island fishing papers, and began answering his mail. The service claims 300 members. Most are in the New York area. But Waddle has recently begun advertising nationally.
"It's not that big yet, but I think it's an excellent idea," said Waddle, who has discovered that not all his customers are looking for the same thing.
"We have one young lady, she's 33 years old and looking for a gentleman. She don't care if he smokes, but she don't want a gentleman who smokes cigars. We had some 60- and 70-year-old members looking to meet a female after their wife of 30 years just died.
"We get so many letters from retired people. Maybe one of their buddies died or moved to Florida. They're looking for somebody to take their place. Those letters really hurt you," said Waddle.
Most clients have less emotional needs. The owner of a motor writes to the service hoping to meet someone nearby who owns a motorless boat. The captain of a 49-foot fishing boat seeks a volunteer weekend crew.
"I'm not trying to sell anything," said Waddle. "For $3 I'm lucky if I cover postage. Some people write back to you a thousand times. Maybe if you make 40 cents, it's a lot. But the enjoyment for me is the letters you get. Since I can't work, I've got 24 hours a day on my hands."
There are also some fringe benefits to to his work.
"I've hooked up with some of the members," said Waddle. "I have a lot more people to fish with now."
There would seem to be little need for a service like Waddle's in an area like ours that has an abundance of fishing clubs and piscatorial societies. But some people are not club joiners. Others are adverse to paying dues. At least a few times a month I get a phone call from someone who begins by asking where the fish are biting and ends up asking where they are likely to find like-minded folks to fish with.
This is not an endorsement, but for more information you can write Fishing Buddy Service, P.O. Box 441, Mastic Beach, N.Y., 11951
On the subject of fishing, some bad news for trout may be good news for trout anglers.
This weekend, the Virginia Game Commission began stocking streams with 25,000 trout taken from state hatcheries. The unplanned stocking comes as a result of heat and drought conditions that have caused water temperatures in some hatcheries to reach levels that are fatal to trout.
Jack Hoffman of the Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries described the hatchery situation as "nearing emergency conditions" last week. Trout are being moved out of the hatcheries to make room for new shipments of trout eggs.
Streams in Dickenson, Highland, Bath, Smyth, Henry, Dickenson and Patrick counties are being stocked.