|Column nr.1 2002|
| THREE SISTERS TIED TO THE FLY
"All of us Smith girls have fished since we were old enough to hold a rod. I started out with the tip of a bamboo rod with line rolled up on the end" Thus began Marina Smiths lifelong pursuit of wild trout and salmon from Alaska to Montana. One can only imagine what Marinas Dad must have felt in that waiting room. When the nurse came out and said "Congratulations its another girl!" The blessed new father now had three potential fellow fly adventurers who would in time excel at this often-complicated sport. Three sisters lucky enough to have a father who quickly decided, the girls would be right next to him whereever he threw flies or sampled the finest trout streams in California and the western states. This may well be one more documented case of Diana Goddess of the Moon, the hunt and wild things anointing three sisters in one grand gesture It has been my humbled pleasure to know of this triad of expert sibling fly sisters and now introduce the second sister to " Dan Fallons World Of Fly fishing "
Over the years I have written about Karen Smith Martin avid outdoorsmen and expert bug thrower who has been featured in this column. Marina lives the outdoor good life on a Montana ranch where her fly fishing skills are tested usually in the Fall. "When the hordes of tourists have gone home and the fall frosts have killed off all the mosquitoes. Thats when I love to work my favorite Montana streams". The magic of float tubing is one of Marinas favorite methods. Its not all about fooling wily trout for this Montana angler." This sport has taught me to enjoy the simple things in life, like the color of a wet glistening fish in hand with a sun just setting over the stream!"
KNOT IS FIRMLY TIED
"I did venture to Alaska for a few years, it was different there fishing for food not for fun. We caught salmon and canned them. I have salt water fished for halibut and rock cod. As a teenager I tried to fly fish and failed and reverted time and time again to spin fishing! Sometime in my twenties I made the leap. Its still frustrating at times but the challenges far outweigh the negatives, I enjoy it immensely! "Being blessed by the goddess of all things wild often opens the soul of the poet naturalist " Its funny to me how you never forget a spot where you caught a fish, or better where you lost one! You can gaze at that stretch and are transformed back in time to that moment. The smells, the sounds, and most of all the adrenaline rush I saw this huge tail come right out of the water; he turned and broke me off on that Willow right over there. You never forget those memories and that is what life is all about "
Marina has fly fished the fabled Madison River in Montana "There are still plenty of fat browns hiding under deep ledges despite the whirling disease. The Big Horn is another favorite of mine. I have fished Crowley Lake, Twin Lakes, Carmin and Heenan Lake, Hot Creek, upper and lower Owens River and Rush Creek. Marina likes to think of her Dad often in regards to her favorite sport" Its a great sport, past time, and obsession. Im deeply indebted to my Dad for instilling the love of the outdoors in all of us".
These days fly sister Karen can be found sneaking up on browns & bows on the fabled Merced River where I love to throw flies, especially late fall when all the tourists have finally gone home. Three sisters tied to the fly since childhood thanks to a Dad who cared enough to let them tag along. Chrissie Kirkpatrick sister number three will eventually find her way into this column to complete the triad.
CAUTION CLASSIFIED FLY TALES
The three extreme fly fishing tales about to be told are to be read and appreciated by the most addicted, hopeless of our brother and sister bug throwers. It is the occurrence of these ridiculous acts of selfish hedonism that makes this wonderful complicated sport so appealing to my associates and I
YES I WILL TAKE THEE TO BE MY LAWFUL WEDDED?
This old pal of mine was so highly addicted to fly fishing that it cost him a potential wife and created a story worthy of being enjoyed by only a handful of purists. On the morning of his wedding taking place on a secluded property near a famous Montana fly fishing paradise. This heroic mythic figure of a bug thrower overheard two local guides at breakfast screaming at each other and bragging about the finest early morning dry fly action they had ever encountered. Needless to say our hero tried in vain to convince his almost bride while pulling on his new waders and getting his gear together! The bride, especially her Dad a well known oil company executive who had just shelled out a bundle to fly in a name pop rock band, was just abit disturbed when he watched our boy strolling out toward the water five minutes before the music would begin. She never forgave him; the father of the bride was hospitalized with high blood pressure. The world of fly-fishing anointed a new member to the elite one percent club.
FLY FISHING LIKE A DRAGON FLY
An extreme long time associate of mine who relishes in researching the most remote never fly-fished waters anywhere waters flow. Has for many years established a reputation among those who know him as "Fly Man" loves to call his friends at 3am and say, "You know where Im standing right now? Next to a 100-pound rainbow I just spent the last six hours dislocating both arms". One afternoon he pulled up outside my home in his green Humvee with special built in fly rod racks, GPS, satellite phone, dish., custom designed foldout tying table and on board weather station. "Dude, you wanna hang off a thousand foot cliff up near Yosemite out a helicopter and throw flies into this deep gorge thats full of oxygen and huge Browns?" Of course I believe him and grab my gear. The whole expedition is very hush; hush and we spent many hours on the details. This happened several years ago and the names of the characters involved along with exact geographic location will have to remain classified.
We arrived at a remote ranch that borders the Park and criss crosses several streams and one serious river. The plan was to hover about twenty feet off the water at the top of a waterfall and let the weighted line carry down into the water. My first question was "How the hell is the line going to drop with all the rotor wash all around us"? Having spent time in a helicopter in Asia. I knew this was not going to happen. Yet, the idea of filming and writing about such an extreme fly-fishing idea was alluring. We met the helicopter pilot and I asked him the same question. He said "I dont know, I have an idea if the line were weighted with a releasable weight and allowed to drop straight into the water quickly, you might get a fly down that way? You know, cut the extra weight loose when the line gets deep into the water something like that"? I was now absolutely sure this was a great idea way ahead of its time! The next day we headed out and scouted three areas on private property where we might pull this stunt. Like the story of the three bears. One place was too clogged up with trees, another was not hazardous enough to make it worth the trouble. We did find a third area where the odds were a little better.
We did take a shot and hover over a nice deep gorge with a serious waterfall and all the effects we were looking for. The bad news is getting fly line down past blade wash was impossible and too dangerous. So we opted to repel off the side of a tree and throw down into the gorge. That didnt work either because it was almost impossible to cast from the harness dangling like we were. Great story, failed attempt, classified now and forever.
MONSTER KINGS AND SWEET BAMBOO
Two years ago I decided to arrange a trip deep into Alaska into an area called Lake Marie (see contents page for two stories about this trip) I took a stack of fine Bamboo rods provided by Winston Rods Glenn Bracket. I wanted to see if very expensive handmade bamboo could withstand the brutal exploding hits of 30-45 pound king salmon. The rods 4/6 weight never failed in several days of hard use. I lost six or seven good kings in the 28-40 pound range. Then I got lucky with the help of my friend and expert guide John Wilson. The 33-pound King took about 40 minutes to tire and land. The adventure perhaps set a record that may stand for many years. A 33-pound King on a 4/6 weight Winston Bamboo with eight pound tippet.
IVORY - BILLED WOODPECKER NOT SEEN SINCE 1930s FOUND!
Listed among a long sad list of extinct bird species that had been thriving on this planet before man began his death grip on the natural environment. A miracle rarely observed has possibly occurred. The Ivory Billed Woodpecker may still exist? This long gone bird was once prized for its beautiful feathers by old school fly tiers.
Naturalists all over the world have been jumping for joy over this piece of unexpected news from the "Thought extinct " category. A pair of the large black-and-white birds were spotted in southeastern Louisiana in April of 1999. Now in January of this year a serious scientific expedition is being launched, the United States, Canada, Indonesia will spend a month checking every tree and leaf within 35,000 acres of virgin timber with sophisticated sound tracking and video equipment. The scientists at Cornell University have fashioned a digital recording system likened to the one used to track whales in open sea. Most impressive this vast, expensive crap shoot to prove that just maybe a few examples may still exist of this rare specie. Those fly fishers like myself who also spend almost as much time enjoying and identifying bird life are quite excited by news like this. One of my saddest moments as a young man was walking around a major California museum of natural history that had an excellent display of stuffed extinct birds. It was like walking through shattered disjointed reminders of what wonderful diversity existed once upon a time.
The exciting news these days has to be the research and discoveries in DNA. It may come to pass ancient minute bits of extinct bird, fish, animal DNA will eventually be used to fertilize creatures very similar and recreate long lost species. Naturalists are perhaps among the most excited pondering a mass resurrection in the next 100 years? Until next month a little closer to spring, lets all dream of huge healthy fish waiting for each of us this year
Written by Dan Fallon, Jan. 2002 ©
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