Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr. 4  2006  


     Rat Pack Steelhead In 
Bing Crosby's Paradise
Part Two

  "Who maintains that I'm humbled now..."
Francis Corneille 1606-1684

  Day two in Northeast Oregon's Minam Motel found me awfully comfortable and gently woken by the gang of wild Turkeys that freely roam the grounds. Looking outside my cabin window the confluence of both the Minam and Wallowa River's become the Grande Ronde River. By 5am the outside temperature hovered around the 30s, I could hear Sammy Davis Jr belting out, "Mr. Bojangles" as I suited up for an early quest for legendary Steelhead many of which had migrated several hundred miles back to home waters. My second morning continued my education as I waded out into the converging rivers throwing my own Steelhead patterns created just for this trip, water temperature mid 30s....

  Within minutes another nice Rainbow attacked my offering and my spirits climbed as my fingers and leg's began to go numb in the icy morning chill. After working the area behind the motel and deciding it was perhaps too shallow for the big Steelies that were in the area, it was time for breakfast with Chuck and Dawn. After two day's I had lost many flies in the shallows and asked Chuck to give me the tour! Just behind the Motel exists a side or spur railroad track running next to the Grande Ronde River where many deep holes were occupied with Steelhead. Chuck and his boys hooked up a pickup truck that the railroad maintains and off we went on about a five mile ride into and area not easily found unless one hiked it. I had high hopes of testing both my new patterns and Bamboo against these worthy opponents, on the trip down the track several serious fishers were already working good holes and had Steelhead to show for it.

  The driver of our railroad pickup truck decided to pull over and chop some fallen logs that were blocking the right a way, I jumped out with Chuck and for about thirty minutes we chopped and moved the logs off the track before continuing on. When Chuck found his favorite holes occupied by other sportsmen we settled on an area where many Steelhead had been caught and we went to work. During a period of several hours of working the entire area and it's deep holes with my own patterns and local egg patterns, no hits or bumps for the San Francisco fly writer dude...

  Local Steelhead Techniques

  As is the case in many Steelhead fisheries including California's Sacramento River, locals on shore use heavy bobbers or floats with 8 to 10 weight rods. The idea is to find a hole and almost like still water fishing let an egg pattern down deep and wait for action. This kind of fishing is not my kind of fly fishing and I suffered because I used all my fly fishing skills (such as they are!) To attempt fooling these brawny big boys and failed. I did while working especially deep get one good slam and the fish quickly spit out my creation and that was that. Now if I were not a hard headed old geyser addicted to ancient fly methods perhaps the outcome would have been different.

  The best aspects of day two were getting to know my host Chuck and examining a hatchery released small Steely I fooled while wild turkeys criss crossed the river. Bald Eagles cruised above looking for breakfast, White Tail deer seemed everywhere. Chuck pointed to a mountain range a few miles away and said, "See that hilly area Dan, that is where Dawn bagged her first Elk, your supper last night..." We worked the several miles near the rail road tracks while Chuck explained that his family began the motel in the early 1950s when logging was still going on. In that time the local population was much greater, towns of any size are over 35 miles away!. One can still see evidence of clear cutting here and there, but by no means is the pure natural beauty affected as mother nature does her slow regenerating dance... The color of the river's as season's progress is a fine barometer of possible angling opportunities. By the end of the second day I began to feel the magic of an area where high peeked mountains kiss clear blue skies. As I warmed up in my cabin that evening I could have sworn I saw the shadow of Dean Martin leaning against the porch whispering, "When the Moon hits your eye like a pizza pie..."

  Day's three and four

  I began day three with my own amateur water tests and found both the Minam and the Wallowa River's incredible pure! I'm by no means anything but a rank amateur scientist, but I always bring water test kits on every fly trip. Chuck had mentioned he and Dawn often drank directly from the Minam without filtering? I can confirm the waters near the motel are as pure as any I have ever tested! Looking up at all the straight up peeks around the motel it was easy to see why early native Indians cherished the area, Chief Joseph's battered people must have lived a near perfect life before lying new comers destroyed their legacy for ever....

  The abundance of native fishes and animals only five hours from sprawling Portland is gratifying for this sportsmen, one can experience true unspoiled mountain ranges and the sight of cliff crawling Big Horn Sheep less then 1 hour from the Portland airport or train station. Locals are allowed to keep two hatchery Steelhead and it quickly became apparent how important this seasonal harvest is as many Oregon sportsmen and woman adhere to traditional hunter gatherer lifestyles.

  Wild mushrooms, many kinds of wild berries, spices, deer, elk, fish allow this healthy existence. It was a thrill to have Dawn serve morning pancakes with her own home made berry syrup...

  Not far from the motel a park exists where access to a few miles of meandering river is an easy walk, Chuck dropped me off and arranged a pickup later in the afternoon. I love to throw flies alone in waters I don't know well. After hiking in a mile or so, I found areas with many rainbows and deserted sandbars, on the way out I came across three young men just finishing a campfire with fresh Steelhead on a spit.

  I asked them to give me the fire and they threw in a nice Steelhead steak. As the bright Oregon Sun crawled back into the mountains, I warmed my cold hands on the hot coals and dined like a prince of the wilderness..

Minam Motel

  Those hardcore fly fishers who love to catch and release many pretty rainbows all summer would be well served to give Chuck and Dawn a buzz, if Steelhead are your choice and you follow locals in their bobber set ups, you will catch outstanding bright colored fish! If your feeling like taking a ride back to 1955 and commingling with the original Rat Pack, I suggest contacting the Mayor of Chuckville or the Goddess, thanks again Dawn. Contact Chuck & Dawn on the web at www.minammotel.com. Phone: 1-877-888-8130 Minam Oregon.

(Dedicated to my dear friend Karen Graham)

1. Barbless Steelhead hook size your choice.

2. Body deep red thread tied full and lumpy for egg pattern look.

3. Flying wing red maribu tied full fan for great underwater action.

2. Three strands of gold tinsel tied into wing for underwater flash effect.


© Phil Frank 2002

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


  The semi holy triad plus one his most High Holiness the Dali Lama, Glimmer Twin Keith Richards, General Duke Parker USMC Sniper active and their host Fletcher Quill rock back and forth as Quills' beautiful restored cabin cruiser slaps the Irish Sea, Castle Raven's Haven straight ahead..... As the launch approaches Timba Quills's Abyssinian Cat and best friend leaps from his masters arms and bolts up the gang way, a blur as he flies into his castle home at last... Before the weary travelers reach the castle entrance they begin to hear the lilting sounds of Donavan singing his hit "Hurty Gurty Man Singing Songs of Love" standing in the soft morning light is our hostess international film legend Sharon Stone dressed in a simple flowing white dress three gold wash basins filled with rose and lotus blossoms in preparation for her welcoming home ceremony much like Alexander the Great experienced after raping and pillaging....

"Duke, savor this sight my friend our little Sharon won't be docile for long."

"My Goddess you are a vision for over worked eyes, my heart beats with rapture my love!"

"My Master and guiding spirit your castle has been empty and quiet in your long absence, let my hands wash the time and dust from your feet. A feast has already begun as your old friends the invisible surfer's Jive Boy and Jason Aki await your presence..."

  Quill and his guests cross the ancient moat and ascend to the castle portal as Quill's favorite Frankensene essence along with Donovan's haunting voice welcome the Master back.

"Master as I wash the dust from your feet my heart burst with joy, this castle has been as quiet as Thor since your parting."

"My love you humble me in front of our guests, let me introduce his High Holiness The Dali Lama and my old Marine buddy General Duke Parker."

"Jive Boy, Jason Aki, I mean the King, excuse sir!"

"Ahh that's Ok there Mr. Quill, man this place reminds me of Graceland man. The Colonel has got to get me a castle."

"Quill, long time no see Dude? Did you hear about Jason and I killing them at this year's Maverick's in Half Moon Bay California. We were frigging awesome and completely invisible of course!"

"Master before the feast begins, you have many cell calls waiting response, a man named Abbott Sammy?, Kite Flying Olympic's gang leader's Tommy Netzband, Terry Kennedy or T-Man and some infamous woman artist named Shelly Simon?"

"Thank you my dear, after Timba and I rest and refresh, let the feast begin my friends..."

"Oh I almost forgot Master one particular cell call from a gentlemen who calls himself son of the Beast 666, a Mr. Randall Gair? A curious call as he was very interested in attaining your help in reclaiming his father's first most sacred residence Boleskine, supposedly now occupied by an English rocker named Jimmy Page?"

"Ahhhh yes the Beast, " Do What Thou Wilt" my Grandfather used to visit the Beast when he lived in a place called Netherwood many years ago. He thought this man was guided by the absolute secret society called OTO Ordo Templi Orientis. Thank the Gods he is not here while the Dalo Lama is in repose. Timba and I must rest my love..."

"Master, we have another visitor you will find quite enchanting! My best girlfriend Jennifer from San Diego just bounced out of her position as number one flight attendant because of a little issue with her language skills... Master she is a blond vision of sensuality and quickly will win your heart!"

"I look forward to the feast this evening, better caution your friend Jennifer, Keith and Duke may be a hand full!"

  Fletcher and his best pal Timba adjourn to their private suite next to the fly tying tower and begin to unwind after their long absence... Timba turns circles in his custom made extra soft cat bed stuffed with wild flowers and just a pinch of catnip! John Coltrane's " Love Supreme " echoes as cold Irish sea breezes float into both their souls, they are home."

  As Quill and Timba drift in and out their first night back at Ravens Haven, Keith Richards and Duke Parker can be heard riffing old blues standards while the Dali Lama, Jive Boy, Jason Aki take their rest...

"Keith how about we get into some Muddy Water's. "

"I remember when Muddy blew into London and Clapton, Bill Wyman, and I ran hard with that old man. He could still do the do baby! After three days of non stop riffing he was up and cranking when we all fell out, that old man could roll the rock round the clock..."

"Sharon we hear your new movie is doing quite well, your beauty has no bounds. Has Raven's Haven been the sanctuary you hoped it would be?"

"My Master created this magic place and I dwell her at his request."

"Dam girlfriend how do we isolate and spread those genetics throughout the gene pool?"

"Excuse me Ms. Stone back in my land your face causes grown men to drop to their knee's worshiping your Goddessness... Will you join me in a tour of this marvelous castle?"

"Yes your Holiness this place is occupied by many otherworldly energy beings. If your startled by their ongoing mischief, be aware they only intend to play their endless games upon those who react adversely!"

"Yes my dear, Fletcher Quill introduced me to his invisible friends in San Francisco. I have much experience in these matters and you will be briefed on our new associate Sorcerer Abbott Sam Kinnison whose world is the vast underground under San Francisco's Golden Gate Park."

"Your friend Jennifer appears to possess her own golden halo, why did our creator triple bless those woman of the blond persuasion so generously?"

  As Ravens Haven slips gently into it's night, forces unseen begin to plot and play with concrete realities...

"Oh Master my heart aches with desire and my soul is filled with your fire, let us entwine in sublime oneness..."

"Yes my love your essence never escaped my mind, our time back in the city of my birth was a glorious adventure, especially having his Holiness in our party. In the morning you must give me a complete report of the goings on in my castle during these last weeks?"

  Irish night owl's haunt the sea air as the castle's guest's dream of adventures past, Fate moves it's silent hand.....

"Holy molly, better wake up Quill I think we have been invaded by those ghosts of his, I see the name John Dee Queens Conjurer written in blood across the library portacol? If that aint spooky enough who is this Aleister Crowly character who keeps singing, " I got you under my skin " over and over? Which suite is he residing in?"

"I heard that as well Duke, before my exile we had the same spirits asking to be allowed into my inner chambers. I know of this John Dee and Mr. Crowly known as the worlds most wickid man! I fear our host has connections in worlds even I feel humbled by."

"It must be the advent of your International Kite Flying Olympics your Holiness, the god's are jealous and..."

  Out of the dark night suddenly appears two black clad figures, around them swarm countless images of Fletcher Quill's beloved cat Timba, as mist envelops the time and space travelers the Goddess and her Master appear....

"My friends you are now in the presence of the most powerful spirits ever to grace this castle, it seems we are about to be illuminated by those who work with Arch Angels..."

(Is Timba now in the hands of the dark ones or has Ravens Haven become spirit haven?)


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 
  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39 
 40  41  42  43  44


Written by Dan Fallon © 2006
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2006

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later columns; visit the table of contents


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info



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