|Column nr.1 2004|
| WATER PRAYER
Before I lay me down to sleep each night, I have been saying a prayer for the worlds waters, rivers, oceans, streams. My observations on Californias remaining watersheds health and future is not positive or hopeful. It must be stated many of the same problems exist in other western American rivers and around the world. Water consciousness, respect, stewardship, planning is at a critical stage. Fly fishers are among the first citizens to clearly see, smell, taste, understand the overall condition and immediate problems or attacks local waters must endure. In my fly fisher life water consciousness has become priority one. None of us can any longer afford to stay passive in regard to the health or care of our sovereign waters, be they Swedish, African, German, American or any where on earth. The time has come for a massive collective cry for water respect and international planning void of local politics.
In the last twenty five years California and most western American states have been under a state of siege in regard to both poor water management, foreign water invaders such as weeds, snails, mollusks, fish, insects etc. During the last several years, massive fish kills because of water diversions that caused water temperatures to rise and deplete oxygen. Snails that upset rivers and streams natural food chains because they multiply and dominate the biomass. River weeds that have become rapid growers in hot weather have over grown and taken many waters from wild trout and salmon as in the case of the Fall River Levee Break I reported in year.
Fish kills, foreign attacks from snails invading Putah Creek, Fall Rivers virulent weed that may spread to other upper Calif rivers. The constant threat of uneducated sportsmen, hunters, boaters, fishers, bird watchers, naturalists, rookie once a year campers. Who unknowingly act as carriers for foreign attackers like snails, weeds, seeds and mud left on boat bottoms, boots and waders are the number one mode of transport for foreign water attackers. California ranchers and farmers as a group are wonderful custodians of the states water resources. Of course like any other group there are those lazy uneducated who continually allow their contaminated water run off and their cows and live stock to pollute rivers and streams.
Thank the gods the over all respect for the states waters is getting better all the time. The fact that water or rather the lack of it has become Californians first taste of the ruinous Oklahoma dust bowl period may be an extreme comparison. Though water wars have begun to flare, serious fish kills may be the tip of the coming disaster if a tough long drought were to occur? Yes, Californias future and the future of all western fly fishers is hanging by a precarious balance. Local and state agencies scream lack of funding, not a priority, no consensus! Those tired old excuses wont float in the rapidly retreating California water supply.
The kinds of changes a head may include much more restricted use of public waters as a paranoid fear factor takes over. Water in general may become almost as expensive as oil and least likely to be replenished. The global warming fiasco has possibly created an ugly future earth environment where less and less rain along with melting ice burgs completely alter our climate and evaporate many ancient waters. Very doomsday thinking of course and yet constructed upon future models that now exist in the minds of those who ponder such questions.
Brothers and sisters of the long rod we must begin to face an ugly situation for all fly fishers and those who covet and respect clean water. My eyes can still feel the blinding glare of San Francisco ocean surf circa early 1950s, so white and bright it almost blinded. That whiteness has been long gone along the California coast. Non stop development, careless ranching and farming, global warming, trains running to close to rivers and streams, industrial pollution, pollution form water craft and larger ships.
The list of assaulting agents goes on and on as one takes a closer look at our water supply. The blame game isnt working anymore, it is no longer them against us. In my mind we are all to blame for this long running killing game we have unconsciously perpetuated in the ugly name of progress. Perhaps it will take more than our prayers to change this insanity once and for all. It may be that elected officials who we put in office need to hear a collective outrage at whats happening to this nations and the worlds waters. The mighty Amazon river is now trying to digest huge quantities of mercury and other chemicals used in mining. China is now killing the spirit of a most powerful river, a dam project is killing the Yangsi river.
A recent scientific study has proclaimed all the oceans are polluted and fish stocks are down across the board. International cruise ships routinely dump refuse near or in harbors and have done this for years. In California coastal rock fish stocks are near depletion and are being watched carefully.
Truly the most distressing fact in this unpleasant new water reality is that everyone of the developing poor nations have no controls whatever over the use and health of local waters. The list could go on until the mind numbs at the scope of neglect which this planets waters have endured since our particular species took charge...
In my mind as someone who has spent much time and thought in regard to the earths most precious commodity, we humans have fowled our nest as no other living creature ever has. We did this damage and now we wait for the next serious fish kill, levee break, species extinction before we wake up and notice the clock stopped ticking. What can be done, is it too late, where do we begin? Perhaps if the school systems in America and around the world were to truly educate youngsters in regard to the damage we have all done and the possible healing that must happen to change the global mentality in regard to our most precious resource.
If any of you reading this monthly column believe in miracles and the power of young minds effecting change? Why not begin a water education program in your school district, why not have kids from rural farming communities come together and research how to clean up local waters fowled by insane ranching farming practices? If anyone out there would like help in getting started with local water awareness programs, I would be honored to help anyone anywhere begin the healing, so in 100 years our sons and daughters may be able to work a #18 Mosquito through a crystal clear stream full of insects and life.
Kleinkaufs New Book
In the recent past I have had the honor of meeting and writing about Ms. Kleinkauf and her exciting life as one of the most respected woman fly fishers in Alaska. When one thinks about Alaska and the unlimited opportunities that exist for all fly fishers, the image of that grey haired certainly well heeled male standing in perfect waters holding huge salmon or trout usually comes to mind. The reality is woman have become the largest new population in global fly fishing, each year far more ladies are picking up long thin fly rods and becoming most proficient. The question I hear most often is "Can woman actually learn from other woman." Yes of course they can, Pudge has been a staunch advocate of woman teaching woman the complexities for many years. In my mind it makes excellent sense and I applaud her energy and true hands on knowledge of the sport and Alaskan waters. "Fly Fishing Woman" is a wonderful book published by Epicenter Press, edited by Kent Sturgis an Alaskan regional publishing house. When I heard about this book and the fact Pudge wrote it and its photos shot by Michael DeYoung, I could not wait to review it! First the photos are truly sublime, Alaskan colors, great fish shots, shots of woman learning and catching releasing serious fish.
This book from page one contains excellent maps of prime fishing grounds and is quite concise in regard to throwing flies in places like Kodiak Island, The Talachulitna River, Tangle lakes, Brooks River, Aniak River. In the rear section of the book many photos of Alaskan Flies and exactly how to tie them are clearly laid out. What a joy to read this book, I highly recommend anyone interested in Alaskan fly fishing or any woman thinking about getting into the sport cannot go wrong starting with this little treasure. The real essence of "Fly Fishing Woman" for me is the sincere, caring fashion the book is written.
Pudge is already world famous for her Alaskan fly exploits and quite well known in regard to her teaching woman the sport. The grand surprise is the book takes you step by step as students first get on streams and hook up to wild salmon and trout. You feel as if your right there with student and teacher and you can feel the excitement when the first fish is on. Now the best news is after these fish are hooked, Pudge walks her students easily and with humor through all the pitfalls of actually landing and gently releasing fish. I loved reading these anecdotes and looking at the drama on the students faces, what fun! Those of us who have met Pudge are united in feeling the natural grace and dedication she easily emotes, even if your not a fly fisher her spirit is infectious and the quality of the writing alongside breath taking Alaskan photos make the book a grand gift.
Contact Cecilia "Pudge" Kleinkauf in Anchorage Alaska (907) 274-7113 or on the web Pudge@womansflyfishing.net
"ADVENTURES OF FLETCHER QUILL"
Quill and his best friend Timba ensconced in the mid day light filtering through ancient stained glass in the castles fly tower are watching her blondness Sharon Stone and his badness Keith (the unknighted Glimmer Twin) Richards Hollywood kiss while staff unloads his gear from the speedboat he arrived in moments ago. Quill remembers the first Rolling Stones song he heard as a young Marine in 1966 in Singapore while on a short leave. Fletcher and his worthless companions were quite drunk splashing in the perfect waters of the Hilton Pool when the first chords of "Lady Jane" wafted into the pool area. Quill half way through his 13 month Vietnam tour recalled he felt like a dog hearing its first high pitched whistle. The early Stones were mesmerizing and groundbreaking, Quill continued to follow the group and its many adventures over a period of forty years. The new house guests burst through the door and Fletcher is smiling ear to ear as Richards grabs his hand.
"Fletcher Quill no less, hey mate been hearing a lot of interesting noise about you and this castle of yours"
"Been a fan for longer than either of us want to own up to Keith, Sharon and I are most pleased to have you join us just before the New Year begins"
"Tell me Keith whats the deal with your buddy taking home the Queens Knighthood after you bad boys have raised so much hell?"
"Bloody farce mate, dont get me started!"
"Now Fletcher, dont go getting too serious with our new guest, he may not want to run that dog as it were."
"I dont mind at all Sharon, its no secret how I feel about the Queen and her silly titles. The boys and I have run very hard over the years, no question we have burnt the candle on both ends, all of us.
Now here is my old pal The Woodman giving up booze and maybe saving his life, our illustrious Prince Charley no longer talking to plants, he gets on the telly and tells the world he didnt do it? Every day in London the papers scream about our Dianne was maybe murdered by a conspiracy including Prince Phillip.
Now when I think what else will come along and shatter my platter, here we have little Micky Jagger in his fancy black floor length over coat and matching leather tennis shoes bowing before the old gal and letting that noble blade touch his leather clad shoulder.
"Keith, kinda tough for you to endure that was it?"
"Sharon, its like this love, we the boys and I have not been angles or really made any great sacrifice for god and country that I know of? Has Mick cured cancer, built new schools, made an example out of his saintly private life, or has he found a new best friend in our Tony Blair who nominated him for this joke of an honor."
Staff interrupts, "Excuse me sir lunch is now being served in the library."
Timba launches down the twisting stair case as Keith and Sharon arm and arm follow the master of Ravens Haven.
Fletchers extensive library is the perfect lunch setting, 15 foot windows display crashing surf and usually grey skies. Over 3 thousand esoteric works bound in leathers adorn the shelves. Staff has laid out platters of fruit, smoked Irish Salmon, single malts scotches, and several peculiar hand rolled weird smelling cigarettes. Timba now bolts every few minutes from Sharons lovely arms to Keiths lap.
"Sharon love, whats up with that newspaper boy who had the lizard attached to his big toe you were hanging out with in Frisco?"
"God I miss that town, the best food, people, the smell of Fishermans Wharf. The newsboy was about as exciting as my last movie. We did our little domestic thingy and then I would wave good by as he scooted out to deliver his silly papers or whatever he did for the Chronicle?"
"Ok, its my turn to ask a question. What the hell do all you ancient bad boys do when your not on the road?"
"That reminds me of what Charley always says, Being a Rolling Stone is easy, six years of playing and thirty four years of standing around talking about it."
"Now Quill old boy, this fly fishing your into, sounds like the perfect calming down activity for aging rockers hey mate?"
"Might be just the thing after cutting those hands of yours to shreds beating on your guitar lad. If you hang here for a spell I hope a bit of my peaceful water born life catches your eye!"
Staff approaches holding two phones, "Sir, Im afraid we have both Jive Boy and the Cowboy at the same time."
"Jive, where are you dude? Sharon and Keith are lunching as we speak, hold on"
"Mr. President, congratulations on nabbing the Ace of Spades sir, well done."
"We only got one more bandit to go Fletch and its going to get red, white and blue all over the Mid East."
"Hold just a moment sir, Jive got the cowboy on line 2 dude, so when are you going to get here? The dinner was for you as well dude!"
"Calling from the launch, be at the castle in about twenty minutes, later."
"Sorry about the wait sir."
"Quill I know you have guests, will your notorious new neighbor be dropping by to meet Sharon?"
"Not only her blondness, we have the Unknighted One here as well."
"Man, can you get him to hum a few bars of "Under My Thumb?"
"He is munching carrot sticks at the moment sir. Any news of the Irish Peace Fly Trip?"
"The Irish trip is now officially on, you will be getting your diplomatic detail Package in a few days, your request for a full diplomatic immunity passport will be completed before the trip begins. How about putting Sharon on the horn for just a quick hello."
Quill hands Sharon the phone and he and Keith watch her porcelain skin turn bright red.
Suddenly Fletcher hears much commotion downstairs along with the now familiar voice of his new neighbor notorious X President Phil. His voice becomes clearer as he climbs the staircase
"Quill, here I come ready or not, where is that blond vision?"
Keith looks at Quill a bemused look on his face
"Its ok Keith, Phil is very cool, pops in all the time."
"Man, I finally get to shake hands with the midnight rambler, I been a big fan longer than Hillary has been mad at me!"
" Good to meet you Mr. President, have heard you wail pretty good on that sax of yours."
"Whats that funny smoke I smell there boys, remember I never inhale!"
Nervous laughter fills the library as the sound of rapid foot steps coming up the staircase alert Quill staff has a problem.
"Pardon the interruption sir, it seems we have a bit of a situation, Jive Boy just arrived and as he began unloading several helicopters appear to have followed him. We are now under a state of media siege."
The whop, whop sound of choppers begins to drown out all conversation as Quill and the X Pres confab
"Fletcher I can easily run out and show a little leg and they will go away."
"Sharon, no worries I expected this and we have contingency plans."
Keith has an ear to ear smile and the funny smelling smoke has now caused all Castle fire alarms to blow and the situation has progressed to low level chaos. Quill motions to staff and suddenly in rolls both Jive Boy and a cart of musical instruments, Guitar, Sax, tambourine, cow bells Etc. Jive Boy hits the door and kicks off the first verse of "Street Fighting Man" and the informal lunch becomes a full on jam session with the oddest band in the world.
(Next month, all night jams or media gate crash? Stay tuned as the castle rocks)
Fletcher Quill, earlier parts:
Written by Dan
Fallon © 2004
For Dan Fallon's earlier
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