Since Johnson has been at this hobby for 30 years and is self-taught, he has been able to create exactly what he wants or what he thinks the fish will bite. A company that wants to sell them commercially is considering eight of his flies using the name Curly’s Steelhead Flies, based on the nickname that his grandchildren call him.
"It is just so much more enjoyable if you manage to catch a fish on a fly you created,” he said. "Fishing is really about the memories.
"I can come upstairs and concentrate on my fish flies, and I feel stress just draining away. It is a very relaxing hobby. It creates a calmness that I need. I don’t feel a sense of competition in this sport.” There is also a television in the room so he can watch the fishing channel or one of his DVDs on the subject.
This year, Johnson has fished waters in New Zealand. Next month, he plans to go to British Columbia with friends.
"I have great friends to go fishing with. I really love the camaraderie, serenity, beauty of the area and just fishing,” he said. He also creates flies for friends who are going fishing.
His wife also enjoys fishing.
Johnson, a local attorney and civic leader and the uncle of University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, usually catches and releases the fish.
"We need to think of our grandchildren and future generations as we leave the fish to spawn,” he said. One of his grandchildren made him a special fly, which he has mounted on a small bottle cork. "She used her favorite colors.
"I approach fishing like I used to approach the dating scene before I got married,” he said with a laugh. "You know, catch and release.”
He also said that when he was fishing with a group of friends recently, they focused on mortality and how much longer they might be fishing.
"I realized that if I died before Gennie, she might sell all my fishing gear for what I told her I had paid for it,” he said with his great laugh — because he paid more for it than he told her when he bought it, he said.