My grandfather and my father, for instilling a passion for fishing in the first place.
Lee Wulff, Robert Traver, and Ernest Hemingway, for helping my mind mull and wander about fly fishing starting at a very young age.
All the regulars at my local fly shop. I like to say I'm a self taught angler and tier, but in reality- I wouldn't be half as good without their knowledge and assistance. Spending evenings at the shop as a teenager taught me a lot, not only about fishing and tying, but about life- to be selfless, how to be a good friend, and that adults can, in fact, be fallible
Those watchmen, those far-seeing individuals who make it possible for me to fish in the first place- from Teddy Roosevelt and Guifford Pinchot to the folks of Trout Unlimited and various fisheries biologists whose interests lie not only protecting fisheries so that I may pursue my finned quarry, but who are interested in preserving fishes simply because they exist, and that's enough.
Perhaps most importantly- Ever fish I've ever caught- from the ones I didn't know were there to the ones I earned through dilligent observation and careful presentation. I'm fascinated by fish, and I'm one of those that's just as easily amused watching a 20 inch cutthroat munch on spruce moths in an eddy as I am actually catching the thing. I've been amazed by all of them. Lots of people talk about "home waters," the places where they learned to fish.
The rivers, streams, and lakes I've fished. Truth is, it seems I learn something most every time I go out, and I couldn't pinpoint one particular place where I "learned to fish." I learned to cast on my grandfather's pond, I learned to appreciate smallmouth bass in the Boundary waters, I learned to appreciate wild trout on a tiny Ozark stream, I learned to appreciate native fishes and the value of a brook trout dinner in Yellowstone National Park. The rivers, and those who work to preserve and support them, should be thanked.
Sorry if that got a bit too abstract