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FI Co-Founder & Friend

Frank and Bob Nauheim started Fishing International together in 1974 and traveled the world Fly Fishing.

Frank was the most written up Athlete in the San Francisco Chronicle during his High School years. The left-hander was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent before the 1961 season and played for the Orioles (1964-1967, 1969), Washington Senators (1968-1969), and St. Louis Cardinals (1970).

Frank also was one of the most quoted “celebrities” in the recent movie – Rivers of a Lost Coast. Frank’s favorite quote was “Get your casts in while you can.” He was the best fisheries “analyst” I ever met.

From Lava Creek Lodge to San Francisco Bay, the Delta, Davis Lake, Lake Mendocino, Russian River, Gualala, Tomales Bay, the Pacific Ocean, the Florida Keys and beyond – Frank was a great teacher to me. I am grateful for is friendship and generosity – his memory an influence will be with me forever.


Frank Bertaina

by Justin Coupe, Director Rivers of a Lost Coast

Palmer and I met Frank late in his angling career at a period when time spent in reflection and memories carried nearly as much weight as days spent on the water. Our meetings were brief, humorous, expletive-filled and always memorable. We first met Frank in person in the winter of 2005 at a commemoration dinner for his long-time friend and business partner, Bob Nauheim. But like most people we’d heard about the charismatic man long before we ever shook hands.

Frank Bertaina was born on April 14, 1944 in San Francisco, California. Roughly twenty years later, on April 1, 1964 Frank made his professional debut as a major league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. In 1966 he was a member of the World Championship Orioles squad; an accomplishment that would often proceed his introduction by friends and admirers.

As a teenager, Frank befriended Charlie Napoli who introduced him to Bill Schaadt, which quickly led to close relationships with Russell Chatham, Bob Nauheim, Grant King, Ben Miller and a small collection of other notable early California steelheaders. Frank quickly became part of the growing lore that surrounded and elevated the Russian River during the 1950s and 60s. Along with many of his counterparts he was commemorated in Russell Chatham’s collection of short stories found in The Angler’s Coast.

His greatest adventures would come years after he left the baseball diamond and the rivers of California. In the early 1970s Frank was approached by close confidant Bob Nauheim with the novel idea of creating Fishing International, one of the first world-wide fishing travel agencies. As the wild, energetic, quick tempered and passionate fishing guide, Frank traveled the world creating a library of memories and stories for his hundreds of clients. His name was known from the spring streams of New Zealand, to the flats of the Florida Keys, from the glacier fed rivers of British Columbia to the tidal waters of his home waters in northern California.

For our Rivers of a Lost Coast interview, we sat down with Frank at his residence in Santa Rosa during a sunny morning in the spring of 2006. He spoke passionately, jumping through the years recalling memories of old friends and infamous stories all the while drawing from a life of adventure spent chasing exotic fish in exotic lands.

He will be missed.


Frank Bertaina Dies

By Marshall Cutchin on March 4, 2010 8:28 AM

Expert West coast angler and fly fishing travel pioneer Frank Bertaina died last night from complications as a result of a recent heart attack. Bertaina was 66 years old.

Justin Coupe, whose recent film “Rivers of a Lost Coast” included interviews with Frank, wrote a fine tribute early this morning in the film’s blog. He notes that not only was Frank one of a kind when it came to injecting his personality into his fishing, he had talents that went far beyond angling — as a pitcher for the 1966 World Series Champions Orioles.

Long after his baseball career was over I was fortunate enough to guide Frank. We got to know each other through many hours spent on a small skiff, sometimes in terrible weather. Frank was one of the most intense fishermen I have ever known, and he opened my eyes to the potential of great casters when it came to beating the odds.

He also insisted on fishing no matter what the circumstances, and one afternoon in the Marquesas in 1987, when no other boats would leave the mothership where we were spending the week (because the wind was blowing 30 knots), Frank and I went out and jumped more than a dozen tarpon. I’ll never forget it because my hands were bleeding after poling Frank around the east side of the islands all day.

But it wasn’t my poling that made the difference. It was Frank being able to throw strikes, one after another, for hours.