View Full Version : Death of a local tailwater legend

Flat Fly n
03-22-2008, 10:46 PM
While fishing the Clinch today I found out that a long time tailwater and park fisherman that I have known for 20 years died back in November unexpectedly. Apparently, Ron (Ronnie Jo) Whaley from Middlesboro died while fishing the White River. He was a former high school football coach and teacher in that area. Those that have fished the Clinch and S. Holston over the years would have seen Ron in his green Simms jacket casting his usual 7wt about a mile with a #22 midge pattern that to my knowledge he came up with.."Clinch River midge". Ron always had a cigar and a tale to tell. He was helpful, informative and inquisative. Ron was the first person I ever saw to use bead heads (that tells you how long I have been fishing). You may have seen his old red Ford with a camper top parked along the river somewhere over the years. Ron Whaley was one of the best flyfishermen I have seen across this country in 28 years of flyfishing.

I will miss seeing him. He was a true gentlemen.

Byron Begley
03-23-2008, 09:33 AM
Hi Flat,

We miss Ronnie Joe. I wish I had written about his death on this board. His passing came as a shock to us. We found out a few hours later. Ted Myers who works here got the call. They were best friends. Ray Ball was another of Ronnie Joe's best friends.

Ronnie would come in the shop and buy a lot of fly tying materials. Often, he would get back to Sevier County and call. He had forgotten to buy something. We would pick what he wanted and mail it with an invoice. The invoice never included shipping because we don't charge for it. A couple of days later we would get a check, including shipping. He wouldn't let us pay for it.

Ronnie liked to play jokes on Ray Ball. One day he bought a $60 gift certificate for Ray. Our computer system tracks balances on gift certificates or now we use gift cards. Ray often has a gift card balance because that's what people give him for various holidays. He didn't tell Ray about the transaction. He and Ray were in the shop and Ray inquired about his balance. Paula gave him the amount. Ray disputed it and said it was $60 too much. Ronnie said Ray talked about it a lot and that we must have made a mistake. This went on forever. Ronnie loved it. He would report to us that Ray was checking his records. Finally Paula had to confesss to Ray. After a few weeks the joke was over.

Ronne Joe was a great guy. He was an excellent fly tyer and fisherman. I miss him a lot. The fly fishing business is about relationships and now there is a void.


03-23-2008, 01:21 PM
Was he originally from Jackson Tn? A big dark-haired guy by that name played football at JHS about 1964-66, a year ahead of me.


03-23-2008, 02:22 PM
"Ron (Ronnie Jo) Whaley from Middlesboro died while fishing the White River."

Apparently he clocked out doing what he loved. :smile:

03-24-2008, 11:18 AM
Any word on how he died... they've had a couple drownings recently due to folks trying to wade in the high water. A gentleman drowned the week before Sow Bug this year.


Flat Fly n
03-24-2008, 02:51 PM
It wasn't drowning.

The guy told me it was from blood clots. I would like to think it was from hooking a 30# brown on a fly, and getting it to the net and it fell off! Ron could have pulled it off!