Angler Perfects the Art of Blind-Casting

Written by: Kalil Boghdan, 2012 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year

Ray Hart

Angler Ray Hart has not let his failing eyesight keep him off the water. With the help of his son, Patrick (right), he is still able to catch stripers on the fly.

photo by Kalil Boghdan

I would like to introduce you to one of my anglers, Ray Hart, who along with his son, Patrick, has been fishing with me for at least the past ten years. Ray has had the good fortune to fly-fish all over the world, and he is the consummate sportsmen and gentleman. I always enjoy hearing about his past fly-fishing adventures and the people he has met along the way.

When Ray first began fishing with me, his vision was good, and he could take in the beauty of the area we were fishing in, off the northern coast of Massachusetts. But as the years progressed, his vision gradually diminished to the point that he has now lost his eyesight. Ray suffers from a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and blindness.

Does this keep Ray from enjoying his favorite sport? The answer is no! With Patrick’s help, Ray continues to enjoy the sport. He does not sit home bemoaning the curveball thrown to him, but rather he makes the trip from New Hampshire, with his wife, several times a season and stays with Patrick and his family, who live locally.

Ray Hart

Guide Kalil Bogdhan talks Ray through each presentation, whether they’re fishing to a blitz or to stripers lying in wait among the rocks.

photo by Patrick Hart

Here’s how it works when we’re out on the water: Ray casts a fly line very well, and once we get him into position in the bow (Patrick takes the stern), Ray takes directions from me at the helm.

Ray is right-handed, and I position the boat so he can always be casting from right to left. He will cast either to breaking fish or cast around structure where stripers are hiding to ambush bait. Ray takes the commands very well. Very often I’ll tell Ray when to pick the line out of the water to begin casting again, how long to let the line sink and/or drift in a current before stripping, how quick to strip the line, and such. He catches plenty of stripers this way.

I love having Ray and Patrick on board. Ray’s enthusiasm, optimism, and wonderful sense of humor are an inspiration to me. I hope we have many more years together on the water.

Kalil Boghdan, the 2012 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year, operates Downriver Charters out of Essex, Massachusetts.

Ray Hart

Ray enjoys another gorgeous day on the water with his son and guide.

photo by Kalil Boghdan

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