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Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr. 1  2009  


  This first column 2009 dedicated to a true brother of the long rod, serious wilderness guide, master fly fisher, half Egret, half piscatorial mystic...... Louie Gonzales A.K.A. "The Raven". Before I attempt to unravel the long illustrious flight of my semi-mystical hardcore fly guide brother. Perhaps a few scattered observations on the master class of international fly fishing guides/ sportsmen who dwell in rarified air few local mudhole salmon egg drowning home boys can imagine after three six packs of cheap beer and four hours of satellite fly fishing shows right Melvin? Rarified air indeed because it’s a small group to join Cowboy, maybe 25 exist that I’m aware of via direct contact or reputation. The gear one must pack to hang with these boys and girls include complete knowledge of every aspect, nuance, in regard to fresh/salt water tactics regardless of the weather, time of year, difficulty of the client/guide paradigm. Ability to think on your feet no matter what the emergency, basic triage some advanced first aid background, G.P.S., map reading skills, water, current, insect knowledge bordering on complete obsession! Ability to quickly read a new client and make adjustments according to ego/experience fast no waiting! The diplomatic innate gift of understanding the pathetic once a year scared -stiff -working -slave -slob next to you who just shelled out several hundred bucks and is basically clueless and inexperienced versus Mr. Big Shot Sports maniac, " Hell don’t tell me kid, I forgot more about his sport then you’ll ever friggin know! " Yeah baby the pendulum swings hard left to right timid to blown up egoist control freaks out to impress dazed and confused girlfriends.....

  In my fifty years wondering around every river/stream/ocean available, guides have always been near and dear to this wild ass Irishmen. Tough way to make a buck or great way to stay on the water and make the best of every situation. Diplomatic skills are right there with fly fishing skills for sure. Especially in sad economic times, people can be difficult at best my friends....


  International fly guide work is all about control as in life it comes down to who is pulling the strings and who imagines they are pulling.... Control over each day from the moment an often disoriented still novice fly fisher still sleepy arrives and greetings are exchanged, until dark and those red tail lights disapear. When I guided Yosemite and all points northern California it was during those first few minutes when I knew how the day would go. When I asked a new client what level he or she was at, the game was on. International guides who have been tested know the quicker one finds out exactly how much experince you have Leroy? The faster all adjusments in respect to where the first flies will be thrown and the last dry fly gently laid down can be made. Guides who are seasoned are more concerned with your skill level or how much extra work they will have to get you on a fish and then actually catch and release it safely. Then once your fly experince is nailed, its all about getting along in small boats, drift boats or in remote areas when the action goes dead and that always happens even in Alaska, Afrika, it happens! Sounds rather complex hey Dexter, truth is guiding on the master level is where its at in fly life. Once you have wrestled everything that swims fresh or salt on every continent under every imaginable condition including war, pestulence, social disorder! It dosen’t matter what the degree of difficulty Rauol when the smoke clears and your new client has just lost his or hers fourth nice Rainbow of the morning because they i a state of high excitement rip the hook instead of gently set ! You smile. TWO DISTINCT FLAVORS.

  When I roll into a remote lodge first thing I notice is quality of the guide staff. Love to play and shoot the bull with my brothers of the long rod. Usually serious seasoned international guides come in two distinct flavors.

  First and my least favorite of all is the cocky 25/45 year old who is loud, cocky, drinks too much, uneducated, primal, kinda dumb knockle dragger unkempt appearence long strringy hair, ball cap waering kinda dufus who knows fly fishing and that is about it Luke Skywalker. This guy usually has experince and skills no question, it his manner, degree of general crassness that announces his arrival and departure. The other fellow one encounters is centered, highly skilled, stays to himself though when pressed has a fine since of humor and never takes himself or this crazy sport too serious. On the other hand this last guide archatype will put you on fish everyday and when the action dies will be better company then most of those over weight whinning creatures at your last Thanksgiving Dinner Hombre! It is the later lofty skies The Raven dwells...


  Over ten years ago I got the not so bright idea to go after a non existent Bamboo World Record in deep Alaska. The nexus of the idea being well made Bamboo Fly rods were more sensitive, just as strong and more fun under extreme conditions then anything a chemist could ever conjure and steal 600 to a 1000 smacks out of your under stuffed bill fold Dexter. Details of this wild ass tale can be endured by reading Monster Kings & Sweet Bamboo Parts one and two. A tale told many times, short story is famed Bamboo rod maker Glenn Brackett loaned me about twenty grand in fine bamboo and off I went to lake Marie Alaska www.lakemarie.com. Goal being to landing King Salmon with a 6 weight Bamboo 8 weight tippet in front of guides.

  Mission accomplished after seven hooks ups over three day period. 33/35 pound King landed after eight failures. The absolute toughest most difficult fly event of my life. After which all other existing fly fishing records meant nothing to me, nothing at all. It was at lake Marie the Raven first flew across my radar. Enough of this insane tale of wrestling monsters with butterfly nets.... It was within the confines of this still under construction wilderness homestead I found The Raven. The other five or six young guides were not as experienced as Louie. No brag, no boast just quietly sizing up the new clients and like a seasoned guide dog preparing them for a real wilderness fly adventure. Lake Marie was and still is the highest quality wilderness fly adventure venue in Alaska period! Owner operator David Wilson treats everyone the same first class. Be it fat bears or King Salmon. Contact David and get hooked up first class.

  On my second lake Marie week long trip The Raven was given the easy task of just hanging out and playing all day for several days.. On the first day it was on, go for it and see who could catch and release as many species as possible ala maybe a grand slam. From the get go the Raven had me by five to ten fish all day, could not catch him, tried all the tricks Mr. Wolf could conjure. End of day smoke cleared we each had over 60 I recall and The Raven was victorious.

  Over the years Louie has accumulated 12 consecutive years wilderness guiding Lake Marie Alaska,chasing huge Rainbows on the fabled Kvichak River, guided for the famous Clearwater fly Lodge and worked the Kenai River system. In his home state of New Mexico it’s the action at Vermejo Park or Cow Creek Ranch all quality fly fishing venues. Great to know this sport has a few people who walk the walk everyday... Nobody catches fish with the intensity of a successful Egret, nobody.


© Phil Frank 2002

Illustrated By Phil Frank,
San Francisco Chronicle Cartoonist, creator of "Farley "

A sad contingent of three elderly Nun’s arrive at the hospital to care for and repatriate the now rapidly healing once fallen Nun Mutha Superia. Hospital staff have loaded the young Nun’s suite sound system with slow Neal Young, easy jazz and soft classical sounds as the Nun’s light upon Serena like Butterflies on wild flowers......

  "Hello Mr. Quill we finally meet Sir. I’m Sister Fister Serena’s best friend back at the Winery/Nunnery. Sooo Frisco Home boy. You took our little girl on some kind ride hey hoser? Lets go over your twisted history there Buckwheat. She hits the killer red sports car your riding and hiding every psychedelic drug known to man in! Within minutes you have her on your lap and the game is on. We hear her packing her bags and its off with the San Francisco Irish Bad Boy! Few months roll by and we retrieve our little Mutha Serena just shy of the pearly gates with rather high mileage. That about the long and short here Posh Spice?"

  "Dam. Listening to you reminds me of hanging out on the Mission High School black top smoking a fat boy and watching 16 year old Tang wiggle on to school bus’s. You must be from New York there Paris Hilton, are those things your hiding under that habit real or Bolt On’s baby cakes?"

  "I knew Serena when she was breaking hearts and bringing eye sight to the blind just walking down the street. One day we walked by the cemetery and the dead were popping up and heading for Walmart. She was so fine the Sun refused to come up until her eyes opened, girl was a man magnet. We caught her listening at the old Mutha Superiors door one night, girl was fearless hence we find her here with your ridiculous self Mr. Quill. We are preying she ain’t carrying your spawn Sir. San Francisco would do well to avoid another Magnificent Beast cut out of Irish rock."


Atmosphere swiftly becomes energized , lights flicker, smell of old Vermillion and Sulfur announce the arrival of the brother of the most oblique one of all the spirit of Captn Trips , Jerry Garcia.

  "Hold on their Sister Fister I remember you from the early Fillmore west days, you were selling those injected acid apples weren’t you sweety. Now you blow in her like Condo Rice panties in a bunch thinking your going to have my boy Quilly for lunch, wrong. You phony wanna be Nun mystic bitches spend more time munching each others carpet and recharging vibrator batteries ain’t no time for saving mortal souls in that hot hen house Ophra..."

  "Wrong druggy boy, I’ll have you know we have been solar powered for months. Those vibrators are fueled by the Sun Sonny Boy! You leave that sad excuse for a Secretary Of State Condo out of this, she did the best she could with no talent, no vision, no insight, no plans, complete and absolute failure day one till the end. A perfect book end for George and his total failure. Least we Nun’s actually help people, that dumb bitch never did anything but sit on her masters lap which Laura was aware from the get go."

  "A nice rap home girly, Pigpen would have scooped you up faster then Madonna worked the Laker Locker room. Whose that I hear coming into this mortal space, that you Albert King you guitar/blues immortal, that you Stevie Ray Vaughan white boy guitar/blues killer first degree, you boys come on in Baby!"

  "Hey, Quill, Dali Lama, Keith Richards, Elvis, Sinatra. Man you forgot me and Stevie Ray son. You keep that soul of yours in a match box these days Home Dog?"

  "Dam, B B’s blues/guitar playing legend brother, Albert King and the little man who played like a colossus Stevie Ray. Where is my new blues harp key of C, lets get to it boys.. Lets do that thing Jimmy Hyndrix, Janis Joplin and Albert did at the Frisco Fillmore called , " Blues at Sunrise ". Then we hit, " Stormy Monday " and then...."

  "You are a dirty white Irish soul man General Quill, you pick up with me on the lead on this thing. We used to do this " Blues at Sunrise to calm the beasts after we kept em jumping all night long you know what I mean, you paying attention dirty white boy? We brought this one up from the bottom old school Chicago blues slow and easy and mean and mean and lean son.

  "Jamming in the employees cafeteria goes on until a stuff shirt old battle axe throws a bucket of cold water on the revelry being it’s a hospital and all.

  "Excuse me Quill Doctor Fallon left this message for you, "Tell Quill to keep an eye on his back the Nun’s Italian family has many friends in very low places Hombre’! "Whatever that means, I’, afraid you all have to leave , this little party blues feast ends right now gentlemen!"

Quill and his crew pull into the Vice Presidents chopper elevator and quickly ascend to the 40 floor of the Bank America Building downtown Memphis and the flight first to New York then refuel and off across the Atlantic twin custom rubber zodiac boats rigged underneath ten 12 weight Bamboo salt fly outfits ready to throw with giant squid, sardine and bright silver bait fish feather assemblies pretty tough for voracious 80 pound plus tuna or barracuda or whatever to ignore. Time for the boys to get wet and crazy after all the drama and angst perpetuated via a take no prisoner lifestyle.....

  "Man, finally a digital scan of something that looks like gold here gentlemen, At exactly 168 feet below us a pod of several dozen tuna, used to be several thousand only twenty years ago. Dam, down to dozens in this area unreal drop in population thank you Japan, Russia and your huge vacuum cleaner long range fish vacuums. You have completely destroyed the deep sea tuna industry boys its over, never to be again. Unless genetic clones can be created to go wild again? Sure anything you say young scientists with heads up your quaka’s."

  "Dude, your like a fundamental piscatorial menatalist Dude!!!"

  "Thanks Fletcher, same to you Dude, lets drop down and get into these beasts."

  "Look in about two minutes this Zodiac will be over the pod, we are rigged to drop about 100 feet of heavy lead line quick, so lets each drop into a different depth, here we go. All 12 Weight bamboo’s are exactly a like so chose your stick lets go?"

  "Keep an eye on the screens boys we are all down deep enough to..."

  "Ok, I’m hooked up to about 60 pounds it appears, he is running for the surface time for acrobatics. Look at him big time air and that is it he throws the tippet I’m done..."

  "Yep, nice try Quill. He or she was not impressed."

  "Bam, I’m on now, so Quill tell this English duffer how long do I let the line roll out again, hook is set!"

  "Looking good Keith, you got a shot he is about fifty pounds and running steady, if he varies speed or twists or quick turns watch the screen like a video game. Start taking back as much line as quickly as you can, If he turns under the boat your done. Let him go again and again until he is done. You got a real chance my friend, he sis slowing down more and more. Get the boat into pursuit now, we got one, or the Glimmer Twin has a nice tuna on the fly. Ohhh yeah..."

The ocean going fly action goes on until he helicopter calls down and warns Quill & crew a storm is coming up quick time to get airborn and head for Ireland via Paris next stop Hemmingway’s old cafe’s. ten hours’s later the coast of France looms like a velvet glove beackoning and causing all chopper occvupants to smile wide and long as the French Air Force clears the landing on top of the Paris hilton Hotel. Quill run’s first class even in his sea going arctic fly waders. Hotel staff are waiting with warm slippers and hot China Black Tea. The hotel Absynnian cat flies into Quill’s arm’s an old friend dear friend indeed....

  "Ok boys lets get some rest and hang here for a day or so, no worries, time to play and get reaquainted with my invisable surreal friends and all my Irish fairies and such. Great to be close to my castle. Find out what kind of weather awaits on the northern Irish coast will you please Bellman?"

  "Great to meet you again General Quill. Again your reputation has has kept us all amused and amazed Sir! Many telagrams for you, Sharon Stone, your US President, and others."

  "We will need a complete feast for twenty including liqour and extra bar help until around 2am. Please open the bar and have the Chef give me a call when he finds time. Anything else boys?"

  "Yeah, bring up a fresh assortment of local bakery and your own baked goods with tea for starters, you have Devon Cream and English Tea?"

  "I’m sorry General Quill you have several African gentlemen waiting down in the hotel bar club , all dressed like 1940s gangsters. A Mr. Muddy Waters, Mr. Bo Diddley, Mr. Willy (I’m the blues!) Dixon, and I think he called hisself the Black Prince a Mr. Miles Davis. Hope I got those names right?"
Paris welcomes immigrent prodigal son? Will down dirty Chicago Blues get it all restarted?


Read about Fletcher Quill in earlier chapters:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11
12 13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20
21 22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29
30 31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38
39 40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47
48  49  50  51  52  53  54  55  56
57  58  59  60  61  62  63  64  65

66  67  68  69  70  71  72  73  74
75  76  77


Written by Dan Fallon 2008
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2008

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