Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.7  2002  


Return To The River Of Tears

"The river ran death as the souls of poet fly fishers living and dead cried rivers of tears, life ceased to appear. Today angels and fairies return by the score, death came and went to return no more…"

Dedicated to town of Dunsmuir August 2002. Dan Fallon

   California’s small town of Dunsmuir located 44 miles north of Redding, the upper Sacramento River sight of a tragic toxic train spill July 14, 1991, that wiped out a 35 mile section of water destroying fish and all aquatic insect life of any kind! The damage toll consisting of carcass counts after the fact was 7000-8000 fish per mile killed. Railroad tracks run right next to the river and fly fishers used to calm peaceful mornings are rudely assaulted by earth shaking thunder noises accompanied by the rattle of heavy steel wheels holding tons of material screaming their metal thunder, as you lean forward for that perfect light tippet tied Trico launch me hearty! This is a sensory high volume place for those addicted to peace and quiet fly adventures as I have become obsessed of late. The train noises, homes and town surround sections of this famed fly water. I recall many special mornings here in the 1970s. The idea such a splendid wild trout fishery could be completely destroyed has haunted all who know the Dunsmuir wild trout waters.

   I have waited and watched saying many prayers for this habitat and local citizens who went through an amazing international incident, with ramifications still felt to this day in California’s sacred trout custodian inner sanctums. No question the collective decision to restock with the same strains found up stream from the spill was an early act of educated fishery management genius. Those in Dept Of Fish & Game and the good folks at Trout Unlimited and others quickly acted and the results are exciting for the water and all who come home to this once again outstanding trout fishery.

Dunsmuir trout

   I can attest to seeing many trout, all rainbows and no other species. The insect population especially midges and mosquitoes seemed healthy with many frogs. The eco system appears diverse to my layman’s eyes. I did not take soil, water, or bank samples and only performed a student fly fishers cursory examination of this almost chalk stream place, where fall colors can be spirit healing. Locals appear to have adjusted and fly fishers are back in town. Cabins can be rented via the phone numbers listed. A great late fall get away for those looking for New England like chalk stream conditions, slow water and stealth or no trout is the standard early late fall rule…

   The town itself is a soul soothing quaint place with a variety of super comfy Bed & Breakfast Inns. The citizens are the best and love fly fishers, come spend your healing dollars and help this still vital wild trout water continue to heal and self propagate I elected only because of heavy fly fishing scheduling to fish the Dunsmuir area late in season when the waters down and it s usually tough if your not always right their keeping tabs on the early late rising rings and any distance fish sightings from above in trees or just slowly prowling long sections. I did rent a sweet cabin from local fly fishing guide Wayne Eng just fifty feet from the river running slow and low for the time of year. Wayne provided quality well kept accommodations at a good price. His local knowledge is extensive. Contact Wayne at (530) 235-4018. Local fly shop is "Ted Fay Fly Shop" (530) 235-2969 or www.tedfay.com. The people at "Dunsmuir Fly Fishing Company" (530) 235-0705 or www.dunsmuirflyfishing.com can give you all the latest info and conditions, info on cabins, the works.


   Late the first evening I set out and slowly walked a mile or so of the water near the cabin. The feelings I got were mixed while walking and taking in this once near perfect wild trout habitat that had been as multi layered rich bio diverse a place as one could imagine. Local citizens speak of the aftermath of the spill as an eerie scary time. The same dangerous conditions still exist years after the tragic spill? Why has the Southern Pacific Railroad done so little if anything to prevent this kind of accident repeating itself is a question locals regularly ask each other? The water looked so pretty because it was so dead and void of any living organic matter. The clarity was frightening and the absence of aquatic life moved the souls of all naturalists, birdwatchers, fly fishers or those who simply love healthy clean self-generating waters. This tragic incident has been well-chronicled world wide, I have hesitated to revisit until the reports were indicating recovery was moving forward. The latest news is just that and many glowing reports of areas coming all the way back to pre-spill conditions.

   I saw many trout and pretty fair insect life, though the insect populations were not as varied and in the huge numbers I recall in the past. I did come near the end of the season and the water was down. No hits or fish landed that first evening, by late morning I was scouting more then fly-fishing. It was easy to see when the water level is up and the current quicker, an outstanding fly fishery roaring back to life thanks to dedicated groups who keep using common sense as a guiding light.

   After throwing tiny #22 Midges/Trico’s/ Mosquitoes into deep pockets or slow ripples, no fish were fooled. I did feel two very mild strikes all morning. Trout were there. It was me! I was the problem. Then of course boom I took three 8 to 18 inch Rainbows, so it goes for fly fishers, in an instant, bam your into trout or salmon and the action is on. It was special to see the area well back into its former glory.


   Irish legends lush with misty hidden sea coves where magic rules the night and the little people conspire to rule the days. Irish mythical hero’s play in places like: "The land Of promise" or "The Plain of Pleasure The land Beneath The Waves" In all these otherworldly mystic places endless feasts and debauchery help confuse mere mortals into joining insane undertakings with very low opportunities for success or survival.

   Quill and his sidekick Timba the Egyptian Abyssinian Cat seem to thrive in this still vital rugged northern Irish old world coastline, where the unfolding dramas that enfold the two current occupants of "Dunluce Castle" or "Ravens Haven" as it was rechristened by Fletcher Quill some 10 years earlier. It was a cold foggy late June San Francisco afternoon back in the 1970s, when Quill got word a major publishing house was going to cut a very fat check for his first novel "Every Day Above Ground Is A Good One". This semi noxious first attempt at fiction was heralded "Way beyond the sphere of understanding of all but the most jaded mystery lover". Fletcher was soon buying his first extreme home. A 70-foot luxury blue water sailor with three crew and the finest digital navigation and stereo system money could buy. Timba and Quill lived the literary high life on the high seas; hanging and playing with the most expert fly fishers in the most exotic remote waters.


   Three years later after sailing all of the hemispheres vaguely catering to the idle spoiled big boat captains, it was off to France and the move to a luxury 100-foot river barge that became home sweet home for the next six years. After all that non-stop partying and networking and making a few bucks here and there. Timba and Quill decided to take a long vaca and maintain a low profile at "Ravens Haven" on the tip of the desolate storm attacked, misty, legend riddled Irish northern coast. Now many years later as Quill and Timba gently move through time together, a speedboat crew has tied up at the foot of the castle and has requested the elevator activated. "Ahoy mate, excuse me governor, on behalf of Ms. Fitney Tears would it be possible for her to speak with you in private sir?" Fletcher thought to himself aloud, "hear we go, this little song and dance charmer ain’t stopping by just to chat about the need to globally eradicate all boy bands".

   Quill notices she has a friend along with her, looks like a California surfer type dude for real with the loud shirt and baggy shorts, whacked out spiked bleached blond dreadlocks flying in the Irish wind as they arrive in the elevator. "Fitney sweetie, you know I’m like the number one middle-aged deserted castle living fan you have you gorgeous thang… but baby face girl you GOT TO CELL ME FIRST girlfriend. I gotta have that pre Fitney time to slip into my Fitney Tears most mellow happy state do you understand? Now who is you friend and lets get some refreshments and get cozy by the fire while you give me the current situation." "Fletcher, I know all about your lone wolf fetish deal, Ok, maybe I could have thrown you a bone about dropping by. Wait till you hear what, oh yeah meet a fan of yours and a pal of mine fresh from four months guiding the rich and bored big time fly fishers deep in Alaska’s interior. "Jive Boy" here has cut quite a fast swath across the scene of late. I first saw him in Mont Carlo in an off shore super fast boat series, he kicked butt with his own invention. "My pleasure Mr. Quill, have been a big fan of yours dude, Dude, so maybe I can eyeball all that way toooo old ancient bug assortment your famous for bud, what say, bud? Quill looks at "Jive Boy" with patient love and understanding, he has many fans from many age groups, planets, this whacked out California dreamer type seems harmless, fun, and into the new Zen of the moment by his very laid back demeanor and ease with which he handles the fire cracker Fitney a ball of unbridled energy.

   "Jive Boy, what exactly was your Alaska guide gig like?" "Wow, dude, it was mega awesome in all phases. Like I hooked up with an outdoor fly writer who convinced Spenthouse Men’s Magazine to spend a fortune shooting an x-rated exotic fly fishing calendar just for the big bad boys at home you can never buy a thing for. It was so cooool, everyday we spent like three hours watching ten perfect 18-24 year old models wiggle in and out of camo thongs and whacked out see through fly vest and like…" "Ok, son I get the picture, so no real bug throwing was accomplished?" "Oh, no dude, we got in many hours of excellent fly fishing and after we got tired of it, we just let the girls try and wrestle in the fish." "So Fitney, what’s up girlfriend? I know you loved those ancient Mummy Royal Coachmen, I tied into earrings right, they are still cool with you? You know I don’t ever give out refunds once." "Quill, I didn’t come all the f----- way out here just to shoot the frigging breeze!"

   "I know you’re about to get some material from a dig that has found something very, very special." "Man, like why do I pay these college kids to spy and do mole work for me at these digs, when people like you think you know what I don’t even know yet? " The manic energy flying around the castle library is broken by the new sound of the red phone left by the Cowboy’s boys. Excuse me Fitney gotta catch this call. "Good morning Mr. President, Yes I have thought of where to take the peace negotiators for a fly peace trip to remember. First has to be deep in the Amazon River system looking for giant Peacock Bass, great exciting and easy to keep secure in the upper reaches of the river. My second choice would be Fall River Mills in a most secluded fly fishery famous for ex U.S Presidents and Flint Peacewoods fly estate at Sliding Springs sir. The Peacewood place with all his international notoriety and so forth might be great. I have contacted Stoppard Bedford with no replies yet?"

   "Fitney Tears is now standing with her perfect mouth wide open, arms tightly folded screaming into the air". Give me that God—phone Quill, that Texan knows who I’m for sure! She then grabs the phone out of Quills hand, "Guess who this is your highnass." "Honey, whoever you are, this is a secure phone and you have no clearance to" "I got all the clearance I need Mr. President." Fitney then begins a high and low falsetto version of the old pop standard ‘ What A Girl Wants ". Quill picks up Timba and as they stare out the castle window at diving pocket hawks, he notices a headline obituary from his San Francisco hometown paper "Quail Hawkins Noted authority on children’s books has passed away in her sleep" Quail recalled meeting the Pacific Grove California resident at an artists gathering many years earlier, a high-energy literary force Ms. Quail Hawkins. Fitney hands the Red Phone back, "Quill, man you do get around abit son, what kind of outfit is she wearing, tell your President" "Sir, I’m afraid that’s classified information. When can I expect to hear confirmation on this peace fly trip?" "We may have another secure destination in mind, I do like the Fall River idea, everyone knows that San Francisco badass street cop who played "Filthy Willy". Maybe we will go to Peacewoods estate and hang with "Filthy Willy?"

(To be continued)
Fletcher Quill, part 1
Fletcher Quill, part 2
Fletcher Quill, part 3


Written by Dan Fallon, august 2002 ©

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


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info




To get the best experience of the Magazine it is important that you have the right settings
Here are my recommended settings
Please respect the copyright regulations and do not copy any materials from this or any other of the pages in the Rackelhanen Flyfishing Magazine.

© Mats Sjöstrand 2002

If you have any comments or questions about the Magazine, feel free to contact me.

Mats Sjöstrand, Sweden

Please excuse me if you find misspelled words or any other grammatical errors.
I will be grateful if you contact
me about the errors you find.