In the late 1960s, he decided to turn fly-fishing into his full-time living.
“That’s when I became Dave Whitlock,” he told the newspaper Tulsa World in 2019.
For the rest of his career, he fished, painted and sketched (fish, not people), taught, and developed ties that bear colorful names like Dave’s Hopper, NearNuff Crayfish, Diving Frog and Whitlock’s Gorilla Damsel-Dragonfly.
“I don’t think that any angler in the country hasn’t been touched by Dave Whitlock,” Mr. Deeter of Trout magazine said. “If you look in our fly boxes, you’ll find a fly he designed.”
Mr. Whitlock illustrated former President Jimmy Carter’s book “An Outdoor Journal: Adventures and Reflections” (1988) and wrote “Dave Whitlock’s Guide to Aquatic Trout Food” (2007) and “Trout and Their Food: A Compact Guide for Fly Fishers.” He also illustrated “Artful Profiles of Trout, Char, and Salmon and the Classic Flies That Catch Them” (2020), which he wrote with his wife.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Whitlock is survived by his son Allen; his stepdaughter, Jessica Capps; his stepson, Nicholas Langevin; and a granddaughter. His marriage to Patricia Davis ended in divorce. Another son, Joel, died in 1986.
Mr. Whitlock defined himself as a fisherman and an artist. In his early 20s, he recalled in the oral history, he was fishing in a creek in Montana where the sight of trout swimming in crystal clear water entranced him. The next year, he brought a snorkeling mask so he could observe them underwater as artistic subjects.
“You know,” he said, “when you go under the water in a clear river and see the vegetation and the light and the bubbles and the fish and everything moving in that flow, rather than as we see everything in the air, it’s like another world.”
He added: “The minute I saw that I said, ‘That’s what I want to paint. I want to show people that other world.’”