All-Time Best Letters to Editors about Ted Williams

Re. Ted Williams’ attack on “mongrel trout” in High Country News: Editor: Most Americans believe there is nothing wrong with human genetic mixing! I am a mongrel of sorts myself and delight in my diversity. Many humans naturally find attractive members of different races and ethnic makeup. We Americans champion the freedom to love who ever we choose to love. We see this as consistent with natural selection and the evolution of man. We abhor those who seek human genetic purity! American military men and women have died and continue to die for the freedom of others oppressed by those who wish to impose the same limitations on man as you are seeking to impose on trout. One could argue that what you champion is an environmental form of "ethnic cleansing" or the Nazi equivalent of racial purity. "Purity" I am uncomfortable with that word! "Purity" is a word often used by racists, Nazi's and bigots. "Purity," that word is very much part of the argument to restore the Paiute cutthroat trout.

--Robert Skowronski, Sharon, Vt.

     Ted Williams responds: Mr. Skowronski: Genetic swamping by alien rainbow trout threatens to excise our rarest and most endangered salmonid, the Paiute cutthroat, from the planet. Unless your progenitors have successfully bred with, say, chimpanzees the “genetic diversity” you delight in does not include this kind of inter-species hybridization.

Dear Editor: I am alarmed that your fine company has taken on the role of the active environmentalist. I enjoy your magazine because it talks about the good things in life and does not enter into any 'do gooder' type discussions about this river or that. Your Gray's Sporting Journal Current is a good idea if you keep it to recent big fish catches, books, etc. However, if you insist on bringing up controversial environmental issues, you do not become a sportsmen's magazine but an environmental magazine. There are too many “do gooder” magazines on the market today and few that give you the joy of remembering a good hunt or the one that got away. Please review your policy and let's keep Gray's a clean magazine. Do not try to force your opinions on your readers, do not judge what is right or wrong, do not elevate yourself to being an expert. Be one of the guys who we love to go fishing with because he is fun to be with and relax with.

--Woods Davis of Ely, Minnesota

     Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Davis. Thanks for this advice. I find fishing emotionally and physically exhausting. Never have I been able to “relax” while doing it. Henceforth I shall make an effort. Perhaps if I used more DEET, applied better patches to my waders, let someone else drive my boat through the Montauk rips, learned not to step on my fly line…

Dear Fly Rod & Reel: The insufferable Ted Williams...described Restore The North Woods as “a fresh, cocky child who has just climbed onto the dinner table, punted the Chateau d'Yquem and peed in the salmon mousse.” This quite disgusting metaphor aptly embodies Williams' enthusiasm for revolutionary manifestations of class antagonism, his remarkable bad taste, and his incomprehension of yet another subject: wine. Obviously, no one drinks sweet sauternes with fish.

--Duncan Pomfret III, New York, NY

     Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Pomfret: I am chagrined to share the label “insufferable” with my editor and your neighbor, William F. Buckley. One of our readers at The National Review sent him a letter addressed only to: “The insufferable Mr. Buckley, New York City.” The Post Office promptly delivered it to his door. Can you get Chateau d'Yquem in a box?\

It appears that the editors of Audubon were taking a long winter's nap when they let “Trout Are Wildlife, Too” slip by their desks. How else can one explain the presence of the derisive term “chemophobes” (for people trying to protect the environment from toxic pollutants) in a supposedly pro-environmental publication? How else can one explain the completely unsubstantiable claims that fish poisons are "safe, selective, and short-lived"? …. Rotenone is mixed with highly toxic petrochemicals which, when applied to Lake Davis in California, polluted the town's air and water, made residents sick, and forced some people to move out of the area. Had Mr. Williams read the Fintrol label (active ingredient antimycin) he would have seen the skull and crossbones next to the warning that it is fatal in humans if swallowed….

--Ann McCampbell, Santa Fe, NM

     Ted Williams responds: Ann: In their attempt to disrupt recovery of endangered salmonids weeping, screaming chemophobes marched around with placards, swam out into icy Lake Davis, chained themselves to buoys and threatened managers, necessitating the presence of a SWAT team. While these demonstrators may well have sickened themselves with hysteria and hypothermia, there is not one shred of clinical evidence that they were “made sick” by the rotenone formulation applied to the lake. No doctor has agreed with their self-diagnoses. Rotenone degrades in hours and is usually applied to standing water at 100 parts per billion. Antimycin is applied to standing water at 8 to 12 parts per billion and has a half life of 40 minutes. That’s not “short-lived”? I agree that people should avoid drinking Fintrol from the bottle. In fact, there are all sorts of useful liquids that fall into this category--laundry detergent, for example.

Ted: My Bahamas bonefish guide told me: “Mon, I love your fish articles.”

          I said: “Oh, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m the baseball player, not the writer.

          My guide shrugged and said: “Oh, I don’t play baseball.” He’d heard of you but not me.

When you coming up to fish with me?

--Ted Williams, Boston, MA

     Ted Williams the younger responds: Ted: All my life I’ve encountered people who have heard of you but not me. Finally it has happened in reverse. Ooraw!

Dear New England Salmon Association: I have no intention whatsoever of supporting an organization which has the bad taste to make the egregious Ted Williams a member of their board of directors. Mr. Williams’ journalism is both extremely politically partisan and inflammatory. His personal political partialities include both the philosophies of the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party and that of the radical environmental movement.... The editor of Fly Rod & Reel magazine has the bad judgment to encourage Williams’ impertinent habit of insulting Republicans and conservatives in the most scurrilous terms. If Mr. Williams ever has the misfortune to meet me in person at some angling event, I may very well shake off the lassitude of middle age long enough to endeavor to rearrange the contours of his proboscis.

--David Zincavage, Newtown, Connecticut

      Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Zincavage: My condolences about your condition. May I suggest break dancing since, in addition to being “egregious” and “insufferable,” I am said to be “hard-nosed.”

Dear Editor: I have just read “Salvage Timber Rider, the Public-lands Ripoff of the Decade” by Ted Williams in which he slanders professional resource personnel. I'm sure that Mr. Williams has succumbed to the lifestyle and philosophy of his Sierra Club/Wilderness Society/Earth First brethren. Use of toilet paper is not condoned because it comes from trees. The true believers take group enemas at the beginning of their monthly meetings…. As long as you print such drivel, I cannot patronize your publication. Ted Williams' blood should be tested for toxic wastes!

--Cliff Rexrode, Waynesboro, Virginia

     Ted Williams responds: Alas, I am thoroughly unfamiliar with the proctological hygiene of the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and Earth First… However, I do want to assure Mr. Rexrode that even before his beloved salvage-timber rider there was no shortage of toilet paper anywhere in the United States, even at the dilapidated residence of Fly Rod & Reel’s conservation editor. My main source (of information, not toilet paper) was a group comprised entirely of the “professional resource personnel” Mr. Rexrode accuses me of slandering -- the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.

Dear Mr. Williams: I am certainly glad that some people are beginning to understand wolves. However, the part of your article where John James Audubon and the farmer went down in the wolf pit and cut the wolves’ tendons made me sick! You say, “We hauled them up motionless with fright.” How can you and Mr. Audubon be so cruel? Someone ought to cut your hamstrings, starting at your throat.

--Carl Bixby, Palm Beach, FL

     Ted Williams Responds: Dear Mr. Bixby: Although the organization lets me write for its magazine, I can't subscribe because I'm not yet 50. But I’m close, so I know that as we age the centuries sometimes seem to blend together. Actually, Mr. Audubon predeceased my birth by a few years. Thanks for reading Modern Maturity.

          Dear Fly Rod & Reel: Re. Ted Williams’ screed on Ocean Policy: I could eat Alphabet Soup and crap out a better article.


     Ted Williams responds: Dear Anon: Drawing from your experience, can you please advise on the most efficient and least offensive method of delivering text to editors? Also, if I eat Animal Crackers will it help with my wildlife writing?

Dear editor: I was shocked to read Ted Williams’ remarks in the March-April Audubon. He wrote: “Despite what you may have read in mailings of the National Rifle Association and the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do not sit around on Friday afternoons deciding which doors to kick in with their jackboots on Monday morning.” As a life member of the NRA I have never seen such an attitude…. Hence my shock at reading your slander.

--Vincent Landis, New York, NY

     Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Landis: In the same piece you say you read please note the copious quoted laments of NRA and WLFA members about being inconvenienced by “overzealous” agents bent on such “silly” pursuits as enforcing wildlife laws.

Dear Audubon: You took a wise-guy sneer at ReLeaf tree planting in Ted Williams’ recent article “Invasion of the Aliens.” I quote: “Global ReLeaf, sponsored by the American Forestry Association, seeks to plant trees hither and yon, but with no thought to what evolved where.”

--Edward Mainland, McLean, VA

     Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Mainland: I would never “sneer” at Global ReLeaf. When its representatives present me with, say, Afghan pines I flash them an engaging smile and say: “Thank you, but I don’t live in Afghanistan.” Inevitably they leave the seedlings with me anyway. I discreetly euthanize them.

Dear editor: Having written to you once about Ted Williams’ bias, and being answered in print about what a great guy he is and how many awards he has won, I take strike two at the leading editorialist in your magazine. In the current issue of FR&R I am again struck by the ability of Williams to get this drek [sic] into print, and I assume he is paid to do so. I was outraged by his tirades against “…a rabble of anti-UN, anti-environmental, property rights, local control, new-world-order-conspiracy theorists…” and “wise-use wackos, aging sagebrush rebels and other assorted misfits….” Mr. Williams stands alone in your publication as a festering blister… I expect Williams would say that the most impressive ruminations in Maine, like Elko County, come from cows.

--Chris Hutchins, N. Vassalboro, ME

     Ted Williams responds: Dear Mr. Hutchins. Having hunted grouse and woodcock in Vassalboro and attended college in nearby Waterville, I am thoroughly familiar with the ruminations of at least a few Maine sportsmen who, for example, imagine that native alewives are wiping out alien bass and that coyotes are extirpating deer and, when finished, will start in on hens and kids. When these types seek information about fish or wildlife they don’t consult biologists. They go into bars.

Dear editor: Ted Williams’ latest made me wonder is he a socialist or worse? One of his first lines was “But you can and must take the politicians out of wildlife management” is stunning. Does Williams really suggest that appointed officials should have more say about natural resources in the state than those who are elected by the public? Can you remind me once again why I buy this magazine?

--Shawn Swafford (no address listed)

     Paul Guernsey responds: I’ll get an answer from Ted Williams for you, and we’ll probably put both your letter and his reply into the magazine. I can guess, however, that he will say fish and game should be managed by scientists who UNDERSTAND fish and game, rather than by politicians who do not. As to why you buy FR&R I’ll venture another guess: It’s the only fly-fishing magazine that ever prints anything worth disagreeing with. Tight lines, Paul.

Mr. Williams: I find the support you have from folks in The Nature Conservancy camp disturbing. We in Vermont do not get warm and fuzzy about TNC of late. I used to think TNC was great and took their people on fly fishing field trips years ago. Then there were disturbing changes in personnel and with it a change in the nature of the organization and how it worked locally…. I’ll ask you straight out, Ted: Were you requested to write your piece by someone within a non-profit organization like TNC?... Where is your article on the need for lamprey control in Lake Champlain?… Go ahead change the name to Mud Puppy Magazine and see how well it is received by fly fishermen! You can't have it both ways, Ted. Eventually you will need to stand with fly fishermen or stand with the mud puppy and their supporters. I think you have become a fraud, a liability to your magazine, a disgrace to fly fishing. How long has it been since you sold out?

--Robert Skowronski, Sharon, VT

      Ted Williams responds: Mr. Skowronksi: Please excuse my late reply. We really don’t need to choose between game fish and mud puppies. We can and do have both. TNC did express concern for massive mud-puppy mortality in one stream following one lampricide treatment. So did the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and many anglers, me included. The problem was quickly fixed, and there has been no mud-puppy bykill since, despite intensive lampriciding. TNC has never opposed lamprey control. Here is my article on “the need for lamprey control in Lake Champlain”: ( “Someone within a non-profit organization like TNC” indeed requested me to write it. That would be my editor at TNC, the organization that published the piece.

 Dear Federation of Fly Fishers: Let me get this straight. You give the Aldo Leopold Award to Ted Williams, a guy who works for the National Audubon Society, an anti-fishing and hunting mob… The ranks of the extremists are growing. The “antis” will not stop their fight until them have put an end to fishing -- all fishing. The extreme of the extreme are even smashing university labs, slashing tires on vehicles, and burning ski lodges and private homes… When the eco-Nazis blow up a fishing lodge on the Madison River and kill some FFF members, they will still be welcome at the Environmental Law Conference held in Eugene each spring. And the Audubon folks will continue to clink champagne glasses with the saboteurs.

--Greg Roberts, Eugene, OR

     Ted Williams responds: Greg: You got it all wrong. I hate champagne.