|Column nr.7 2000|
In the 1800s noted essayist Edward Fitzgerald wrote this perfect phrase "Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-Show. Played in a box whose candle is the Sun..."
Since early childhood I have been slave to the magic shadow show taking stage as I write this. Wherever running water meets the natural order. In places like Cabo San Lucas, Yosemite, Alaska and the wild rivers of Vietnam. It has been a supreme pleasure to experience the timeless opera that unfolds as one watches hand tied flies dance on light splattered currents. On my last trip to the Merced River which flows from Yosemites majestic mountains. A young hawk testing the chilled air flew three feet off the water straight at me. I still feel the wind move as he went over my head. In the ever-lasting light show that is Alaska in June. A continuous light and shadow show plays games with time and space as one waits for giant King Salmon to involuntarily snatch a passing Leech pattern. It is not easy to explain to friends why I have been so possessed with the idea of standing chest high in ice cold water day after day. I still get excited at the thought of opening the metal rod case holding my beloved Walt Powell six weight as the Sun begins to rise. Those first few steps moving slowly looking for any signs of active trout or expanding rings. A near perfect throw and the bug I tied floats at the end of spider thin tippet and joins the natural order... Perhaps no other personal outdoor sport allows this total immersion into natures ballet. Its as if one truly becomes hypnotized and cloaked in Zen consciousness of the moment. It is the endless enjoyment of the moment that keeps me dreaming about where to go next to sample the holy oneness. These days I quite easily slip into this water born natural order as rushing water envelopes me and begins to push against my waders. My eyes begin an unconscious radar like pan of the area and the endless parade of stream side residents around me. The insect opera complete with a cast of loud flying and quiet crawling creatures beckons me to rejoice in the moment. Its at this sublime juncture the complete immersion takes place. I become the bug tied at the end of my line. Its I that floats and follows ancient water currents established by the elements. Once in Yosemite many years ago I experienced sheer terror and divine happiness when a young rattlesnake floated toward me and had nowhere else to go. The little snake would not or could not alter his course. I tried to move him past me several times and each time he continued to head straight for me. This stop and go serpent encounter lasted about ten minutes. Yet it felt like an endless fencing match played out on his home ground. When I attempted to leave the water which meant walking backwards about twenty feet over exposed rocks, he followed me. I was alone as usual and far out where people were nowhere near. I remember thinking these little rattlers were more dangerous then their big brothers and getting into a territorial dispute. Ending with a tiny fang sinking into a wayward finger was not my idea of ideal fly fishing. At the same time I was having a ball watching the little snake try to close the gap between us.
I remember having the same sensations in Alaska this year when we saw so many giant bear prints around wherever we fished. One late afternoon we found bear prints covering our own prints on the way back to camp, another great natural order moment in an endless string
Those fly fishers who have spent their lives tossing bugs at local waters at times standing in what looks like a Macys one hour sale. Those patient lovers of the ritualized tying of flies so tiny only a micron microscope can see them. Those who have spent so many years driving endless miles only to find other fly adventurers parked right next to them! I feel your pain and I have decided in a moment of rare personal clarity to do something about it. If any of the faithful readers of this monthly column harken back to my earlier columns afew years ago. I said I had taken a blood oath sworn to the aquatic gods to spend ridiculous amounts of time and cash. In the never-ending quest for Trout & Salmon fooled by perfectly presented bugs. I have time and time again fulfilled this pledge as can be verified by asking any of my ex-wives or would be friends. The time has now arrived to take this heartfelt obsession to the next level. In the months before deciding to attempt new world records taking huge King salmon on light expensive Bamboo. I came to the conclusion a new and exciting page had been turned. I can still feel the waves of uncertainty and cold fear wash over me as my little light weight Winston Bamboo bent almost in half straining to heel the forty pound plus monster king trying to separate every natural fiber. This was nirvana plain and simple in perfect terms. I was way over my head and most certain to fail in landing those giant Salmon on extra light gear. Yet, in the midst of this new quickening of the pulse. I was having more adrenaline spiked thrills per second then Tommy Lasorda at the Sydney Olympics. It was as if the clouds had parted and a blinding shaft of light lasered out of the Alaska Sun into my brain screaming "Welcome to the last frontier Pilgrim".
This Century has just begun and its clear more people and less quality fly fishing waters. Have forever changed fly fisher opportunities for exciting gut wrenching adventure. So whats left for those without shiny Lear Jets parked out back next to the 18th.green? Whats left is your imagination and your willingness to move out of old mindsets and into extreme challenges. If youre used to throwing the same five weight all around outfit at the same currents year after year. Then why not drop down to a wisp of a one, two, or three-weight rod and take a chance. Oh yes, you will loose afew fat fish and you will be taxed beyond what your used to! That is the point, and if you take the first tentative steps to your favorite fly rod salesmen and ask him or her to show you something alot lighter and responsive. Who knows what may happen to you next time you set the hook and feel that three-pound rainbow pulling like a freight train! I have had dream after dream of late that goes something like this. The African Sun begins to splash vivid colors as the helicopter hovers over the waterfalls below. I spot several gigantic fish and throw my two weight ten thousand dollar custom-made Bamboo side to side avoiding the whirling chopper blades.
The video camera crew in the other helicopter are posed ready to capture my throw as I hang suspended over a ten thousand foot gorge looming below. Each cast drops the hand tied fly closer to the schooling fish and then SLAM Im hooked up and the pilot begins to follow the hundred pound fish and I up and down the treacherous ledge where these other worldly fish dwell.
Fact, absolute and obtainable thrills await you noble fly adventurers of the most extreme persuasion. My world wide guide associates and I can put you into situations even more extreme then the above if your ready to step up into the new dimension of extreme fly fishing? If you have the time and pocket book, trips to Alaskas wild and wooly waters or Mongolia in September or Africa may be your first step into the lunatic fringe of fly fishing. I have assembled a network of dedicated world class guides and destinations with one goal in mind. Taking you and your skills to an uncharted extreme where old school fly goals and techniques do not apply. In 2001 an opportunity to partake in a insane new method of taking Alaskan King Salmon. By throwing top water skipping fly/ streamers like those used on warm water bass ought to ring some extreme bells out there. If that sounds alittle too crazy, how about a trip to the famous Merced River running out of famed Yosemite Park. I will be planning and guiding small groups of five or less to excursions after five to twelve pound German Browns using two/three weight outfits and hard-core stealth tactics. Not nuts enough for you wildman? How about a week in Mongolia in September throwing bugs with three to five weight rods at huge forty plus pound Taimen. If this has not opened your eyes yet and got your heart pounding. Then lets discuss trips to South Americas Amazon River where the resident fish have been known to devour anything that hits the water including careless fishermen. The point is Im tired of hearing many of you tell the same old tales of what fun it used to be at the local fishing hole before the endless hordes arrived dressed in shiny green L.L. Bean. Im telling you to get over it and step up with me to new uncharted extreme fly fishing. I will go anywhere, hang off helicopters, swim chest deep in Amazon waters or throw bugs with rods so light you need digital electronic scales to weigh them. You have only two things standing in your way between you and the fly fishing adventure of your life. That is guts and imagination in large quantities. If any of this over the top talk sticks to your dream machine, pick up your over worked cell phone and call Dan Fallon 415-332-3803 anytime and lets talk about moving you into my extreme dream stream. What have you got to loose fly fisher, alittle cash perhaps and alot of tired old tapes that keep repeating "Man, I sure miss those good old fly fishing days of my youth!" One more thing fellow crazies, if only salt-water fly fishing is your cup of tea? I have gone after everything from Mexican Marlin down Cabo way, to Stripped Bass in shallow surf off the California Coast. When I say lets dream up your most exciting fly fishing adventure. I mean any water, anywhere, any time.
It is no secret one of my favorite fly fishing destinations is Yosemite National Park and the mighty Merced River. In the years I have fished this magical place and written about its many wonders. Many of you have asked why I havent guided or held fly fishing schools there? Ok, you win, in the spring of 2001 in conjunction with the world famous often ghost riddled Mariposa Hotel Inn. I will be hosting two-day fly fishing schools and guide service on the Merced river and in the park. The Mariposa Hotel Bed & Breakfast is one of the oldest most respected well-kept B&Bs in California. Those who are lucky enough to stay with Lynn the proprietor will enjoy several dozen Humming Birds joining them for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the panoramic back porch. It is well known this jewel of an historic hotel has many permanent guests in the guise of gossamer ghostly comers and goers! I will instruct very small groups of five or less in the basics of this sport and then lead them to local waters to test their new skills. I invite everyone especially older folks and ladies who might have reservations about taking the first steps into a new life-style. My phone number and e-mail address are at the end of all my monthly columns. Pick up the phone, lets change your life forever together... The phone number for the Mariposa Hotel in Yosemite is 209-966-4676. Fax is 209-742-5963. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wake up all my respectful considerate fly fisher associates whose numbers are legion... In case you have been throwing flies somewhere else in this galaxy other then our little blue marble. Please drop that much too expensive fly rod clean off that disgusting bug-tying table and listen carefully. It has again come to my attention that one or two of you dedicated insect worshipers have been guilty of the following crimes and misdemeanors in regard to proper catch and release methods. Now ladies and gentlemen I will lay this out as simply as possible. It is not necessary in most instances for you to set that hook on first strike with the same power you wield on the tennis court or playing racket ball. If your attempting to gain an advantage on fifty pound King Salmon whose jaws are receding during the flesh consuming spawn. Maybe you will have to put alittle more energy into it. But, you and I know for the most part stream or river run trout rarely get over six pounds. If you firmly set the hook on first strike using only barbless hooks, you will still land fish. No need yanking out whole jaws and ripping tender lips. When you have finally coaxed that tired two-pounder close enough to your twenty five thousand dollar jet boat. Please try with all your excited might not to grab, slam, and roughly fondle your hard-earned catch! In fact I believe fish would be much better off and less traumatized if they were left in the water with rushing currents helping to reoxygenate and allow allowing for a more humane reinsertion back into the natural order. Please let all your fish go as unmolested and healthy as possible. In Mexican Marlin ports and now around the world, videos are taken instead of fish. We have no choice but to offer as much intelligent respect and consideration as possible to all fish caught and released, period.
In the coming months many outstanding American fly fishers of both genders will be featured in this column. I constantly get e-mail and phone calls from around the world. If any of you dedicated fly fishers out there would like to be featured in this column. Please e-mail me or call me at the numbers found at the end of all updates. I especially look forward to hearing from those who seek the extreme in this sport. I and many of my international guide friends like John & Dave Wilson in Alaska are now taking requests for many extreme trips to places like Mongolia and the far reaches of South America and Russia. This column is now officially read by more sportsmen then any other in the world! I have been humbled and inspired by this great success. I have to again thank my editor Mats for all his help and kindness over the years. If any of you out there want to get deadly serious about taking any game fish by fly anywhere in the world. Pick up the phone and dial 415-332-3803 and lets get crazy...
by Dan Fallon, October 2000 ©
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