The Passing of a Spring River Legend

I first met Tom Anderson at the Lassetter Access on the Spring River back in 2003.  Mark Kotcher and I had headed back to the access for lunch and in rolls Dan Sears and Tom to do a little fishing.  Dan suited up real fast and was on to the water but Tom, as he always did, took time to talk with Mark and I about the Spring River and his love for it.  He then offered for us to hop in his mini-van and give us a grand tour of the various access points and fly recommendations.  We spent the next few hours with Tom riding to Bayou Access, Dam 3 access, and a few other places on the Spring River.  He offered his insight on how to fish the river, and didn’t hold anything back.  It was a conversation I remember to this day, and signified everything that is right with helping a couple of new to his river fishermen.



Tom lived near the Spring River for many years and considered it his home waters.  We traded emails off and on ever since that first trip.  A year after our first meeting, Tom and his wife joined Craig Peterson, David Stinnett, and I on our annual trip to the Norfork River.  We camped next to each other in our pop-up campers, and all I can say is that Tom was right there with us by the campfire during the trip and fishing as hard as the young bucks; with his wife up at the camper “tending to things”.  Tom landed a nice Norfork River brown during this trip, and it is this image of him that I will forever carry with me.  He was so excited over the FRS radios we convinced him to carry, and he hollered for us to come with the net, as the water was coming up and he wanted to land the fish.  He was all smiles, under his beard that night.

We traded more emails over the years and met up for dinner or breakfast once or twice in Mammoth Springs, but we only spent those two days fishing together.  Funny, how strong the memory of those two days on the river are.  Tom left this world on  08-16-2012, his daughter notified all those whose name was in his permanent address book of his passing on Sunday via mass email; I was one of those lucky ones to know Tom.  There was no public wake or funeral service, as Tom chose for his life to be celebrated and not mourned.  So to you Tom Anderson, I say thank you and god speed.

–Matt Tucker

4 thoughts on “The Passing of a Spring River Legend

  1. I had the pleasure also to spend time with Tom as he had a great interest in air rifles. He was well astounded at the awesone power some of my Theoben guns.
    Spend some time with him at his home shooting and visiting with each other.

    I am sure Tom will be with the fish Gods.


  2. I did not know Tom as well as I would have liked. I met him after my time in Mammoth Spring, much to my dismay. After meeting him, I wished that the summer I was unemployed and fishing the Spring daily would have been spent sharing a section with him.

    I looked forward to reading many of his lengthy emails which sometimes seemed to be textbook long and even more informative. His gift of gab was only exceeded by his gift of articulation.

    Tom was one of those rare breeds who loved to talk and share his love of those things important to him including fly fishing, the Spring River, and air guns. Many emails about all three have helped me improve my knowledge of them for sure.

    I spent some time in Mammoth Spring tying flies and sharing stories with Tom one day and just as you, Matt, the conversation is embedded in my mind forever. I initially called him Mr. Anderson, and he let me know that he would not tolerate that… I had to call him Tom.

    But that was Tom…

    God bless you my friend.

  3. Thanks for the kind words Matt, I was his neighbor, close friend and adopted grandson. What a great man he truly was. His knowledge, legacy and passion has been passed down and will continue to live every time I use his gun or break out his old fly rod. Spring River truly has lost a legend indeed. May he fish the streams in the sky for eternity.

  4. I never got to meet Tom in person. I met him via the ‘Net through Dan. We were supposed to meet in 2009 but it didn’t work up, and I haven’t had the chance to get back to the Ozarks since. Tom and I hit it off at once, shared countless emails,and I will greatly miss his wit, wisdom and fiery demeanor. Take care, buddy. Dan and I will one day soon wet a line and lift a sip in your honor.

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