It’s not just about the skiing.
And you don’t need Roger Wilson to tell you that, but today, Roger’s volunteered to supply that voice.
Wilson is the new owner of Brock’s Flyfishing in Bishop, having taken ownership of the shop in November. He follows in the rather large footsteps of Jim Brock, who founded the store and operated it from 1959-1990, and Gary Gunsolley, who took over from 1990-2013.
Wilson, a native of the East Bay and a fourth generation Californian, grew up camping and fishing with his family in the Bridgeport area. He later gravitated to ice climbing. He has recreated in the Eastern Sierra consistently his entire life.
About three years ago, he said he had an epiphany where he realized he would end up here. Last spring, he was walking down Main Street in Bishop and popped into Brock’s and struck up a conversation with Gunsolley.
The conversation was wide-ranging. It had nothing to do with the store being for sale. It had everything to do with swapping stories and philosophy.
In particular, Wilson recalled a story Gunsolley told about a hiking trip he made with his nephew. It was a glorious summer day, clear skies. As the pair contemplated stopping to set up camp,. Gunsolley’s nephew asked him, “Do we really have to put the tent fly up?” Gunsolley said yes.
It snowed two inches that night.
And Wilson thought to himself, “This is a guy who does it right.” So he quit his legal job, bought the business [which had been on the market for more than a year] and moved out here.
As Wilson said, “When I bought the business, my plan was to push the winter fly-fishing.” The local aficionados had told him the fishing was great in January, and said Wilson, “My impression is that this is known to a few, but not to many … it’s not like I’m trying to tap into a wide swath of ignorance so much as remind anglers that it’s available … people get into habits and sometimes don’t stray from them.”
In short, a skier’s lament may very well be the angler’s delight.
Wilson keeps regular winter hours. Brock’s also features a guide service with three guides (Gunsolley among them) who have more than 100 years combined experience.
One more Gunsolley story (via Wilson, who is literally a ringer for the late Jack Lemmon) involved former San Francisco 49er Tight End Brent Jones. Gunsolley asked Jones if he was going to put on his sunglasses. Jones said, “Nah, I don’t need sunglasses. My eyesight’s pretty good, regardless of how bright it is outside.” Gunsolley replies, “Ever seen what a fish hook can do to an eyeball?”
Jones promptly bought a pair of sunglasses.
Brock’s has an ad running on page 18 of today’s paper. the store is located at the intersection of Main and Line Streets in Bishop.
Now about that ice rink. What was hilarious to us at The Sheet was that no one at the Town offices could readily give us year-over-year information as to the business the rink has done historically.
The best they could do was tell us the total revenue thus far for FY 2013/2014 (~$34,000), and the total attendance for 2012/2013 (~4,000 total skater visits).
It took reporter Katie Vane surfing the Town website to discover the following information to provide a useful comparison. In the Town’s 2012 Measure U Application, it estimated annual ice rink revenue at ~$28,500.
Obviously. we’ve already cracked that number this year and the rink’s got another two months left of operation.
Steph Daniel in the Town’s Recreation Dept. noted that one of the challenges facing the Ice Rink this season has been keeping track of the skates. Given the lack of snow, many folks are trying to rent skates at the Ice Rink for use elsewhere, such as on Crowley Lake or the Alkali Ponds off Owens River Road – and they may not return the skates in a timely fashion, if at all.
Daniel opened up this week’s Fifty Center and pointed to a photo of two members of the Anaheim Ducks Foundation and two local skaters. “Those look like our skates,” she said. She explained that the Rink “doesn’t have any way to take deposits for skates,” so some skates may be walking away from the Rink for a day rental.
At the Back Alley Bowling lanes in Bishop, they demand a pair of shoes as collateral in exchange for a pair of bowling shoes. Mammoth’s Ice Rink is on the honor system and demands no such collateral.
The Mammoth Ice Rink is also largely run on a cash-basis with seemingly very little financial oversight. I hope Town Manager Holler is taking notes.