Peter Gorinsky, a globally respected authority on tropical fly fishing who introduced countless friends, family and clients to the wonders of nature in Central and South America, has died in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the age of 80.
The son of Caesar Gorinsky, a Polish cattle rancher and half Atorad tribeswoman Nellie Melville, Gorinsky was born on December 6, 1941 along the Berbice River in the remote interior of Guyana. His maternal grandfather was HPC Melville, a renowned Guyanese pioneer. As a child, Gorinsky developed an insatiable love of nature and closeness to animals, taming all manner of Amazonian creatures as he wandered barefoot through his family’s frontier ranch.
He studied gemology and lapidary stone cutting at Idar Oberstein in Germany; a collection of exquisite orchids that he sculpted in semi-precious stones are part of his legacy, the fruit of his knowledge and passion for orchids.
During an exploratory trip to Guyana, Gorinsky discovered an Amazonian orchid named after him – Phragmipedium gorinskyii. He eventually moved to Costa Rica in the early 1970s to pursue his passions. He was a polyglot, taught fly fishing, amassed a large collection of orchids – preferring the rarest miniature species – dabbled in oil painting and maintained hives of several types of bees native and melliferous.
An early proponent and ambassador of ecotourism in Costa Rica, he trained some of the region’s first fly-fishing guides, helped run a floating lodge on the Rio San Juan, and founded his own fishing outfitter. on the fly in 1972. He was among the first to catch several species of Amazonian fish on a fly rod. The fish were his partners, he liked to say, not his adversaries.
His pioneering fishing exploits across the Americas have been celebrated by filmmakers and featured in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated, among others.
His tenacity, generous spirit and ingenuity, born of a childhood on the South American frontier, knew no bounds. A friend once observed Gorinsky, then 70, restrain a 10-foot boa constrictor with a single stroke of his wooden cane. He survived snake bites, boat and car accidents and multiple heart attacks, optimism forever on his side.
Gorinsky was a legendary and enchanting storyteller, with a twinkle in his eye as he weaved fables and facts to captivate his audience. His enthusiasm, good humor and endless mysterious knowledge inspired the constant flow of visitors to his modest hilltop home in Escazu, overlooking the Costa Rican capital of San Jose and distant volcanoes. Her parrot, Barbara, greeted the guests. The ebb and flow of friends and family in his “Inshallah” home marked his life.
A natural pedagogue, he has always wanted to share. In 2015, Gorinsky founded the Costa Rican Fly Fishermen’s Association, CRAFF, to introduce others to his beloved sport and to conserve the resources he valued so much. His “special place” was along the banks of the Rio Savegre in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica, where rainbow trout swam beneath rare quetzals, a bird he gazed upon in awe as he cast his fly with characteristic grace.
He is survived by his sister Marta Ware (Jeff), brothers Luke (Cheryl) and Marc (Caroline), half-brother César (Marie-Louise), several nieces and nephews: he supported the families of several of his helpers as well as his adopted son Charlie Chavarria, of Santa Ana, who is now an accomplished fly-fishing guide himself.
Article by David Sherwood