For 40 years, Charlie Reading has been sharing his love for fly fishing with his customers

Laura Valenti For the Record

For some fishing is a weekend pas-time and for others, a vacation to dream about when not actively engaged in it, and for the very few, like Bennett Spring’s Charlie Reading, fishing is the passion of a lifetime. For 40 years, he has been sharing the joy of fly fishing with visitors to Bennett Spring as well as people he has met in his travels around the world.

“ What makes my job so interesting,” he spoke recently from behind the counter of Reading’s Fly Shop located just east of the park on Missouri 64, “is that I’m always teaching, showing, telling someone about something that is different than what they do with the rest of their lives when they are not here. I see all these people with their heads in the phones or the electronic notebooks, all this technology, but what we really do here, is help people connect again—with nature and with each other—by disconnecting. You know it all started at Grandma and Grandpa’s house years ago with two longs and a short, the old rings on the party line. You ran like it was the most important thing in the world to get that call or you might miss something. People are still doing that. Answering that cell phone as if it is the most important thing in the world.”

He continued with a smile. “I think it makes people lose their creativity because they don’t store information in their head anymore, instead it’s all in the phone. People are still better off to come out here, take your kid fishing and get engaged with nature rather than just watching something on a screen.”

Charlie Reading grew up on a farm just outside Lebanon and graduated from the College of the Ozarks with a degree in biology, chemistry and history which along with fishing and travel has also turned him into quite a philosopher and a student of human behavior and history.

“It was Mark Twain who said, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,’ and you certainly can see that when you travel to other parts of the world.”  

For the complete story, see the Wednesday edition of the Laclede County Record.



The Laclede County Record

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