Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr. 7  2005  


   Hat Creek Trout Graduate School

"I went hunting wild,
After the wildest thing in the world."
- Wilfred Owen 1893-1918 -

  California fly fishers are lucky to have several true world class wild trout rivers and streams such as Fall River and Hat Creek located in upper California. Fabled Hat is perhaps one of the most thriving productive trout habitats in the western hemisphere with year round steady water, clarity, constant temperature, volume, continues insect hatches regardless of weather, silt and gravel bottom imitates the finest English chalk streams. An early dam project had allowed junk fish like squaw and sucker to dominate until the early 1960s.

  Concerned fly fishers and several biologists from fish and game decided a radical new approach might be the ticket to rejuvenation, they captured most of the trout and killed the rough invading fish and restocked with Brown's and Pit River Rainbows. The experiment has largely been a success with very healthy populations of both brown and rainbow. This grand stream once home to both the Ilmawi and Atsuge native Indians was in 1967 the first western waters to become managed exclusively for wild trout. Of course all this expert attention, unlimited hatches and food sources combined with perfect water temperatures and constant flows have created an aqua university of extreme higher trout learning. These native trout are more learned and sophisticated then many of the unsuccessful fly fishers who dare ply these sacred waters.....

  To say Hat Creek is drop dead gorgeous is an under statement, one can see the bottom of this easy flowing on average 450 cubic feet per second, averaging 4 feet deep easily wadeable creek with much access, broad meanders home to gliding ducks and geese. Late afternoon shadows on this glass like water are exceptional and photograph like few places anywhere!

  Two distinct sections, fast ripple water consisting of 450 yard section below Powerhouse#2 while very productive one will encounter many fly brothers and sisters. Flat slower water begins below this fast water and continues about 2 miles ending in the lower fast water area north of Hat Creek Park. Before any further access information a word of caution most of the Hat's banks have been inundated by muskrats one has to be careful stepping into these deep holes!

  Everyday is a multi hatch day with several species exploding at once upon very clear water reputed to hold in access of 5000 trout per mile! Needless to say I NEVER work the Hat during weekends or holidays, it's mid week only unless you enjoy hearing, "Hey How's it going? Catch any?" every few minutes screamed from shore..... Those who live near Hat Creek say only the last hour and maybe the first 2 hours each morning are productive, to test this theory I walked near the waters edge and saw no trout signs at all. These trout live in perfect clarity and can see you and your shadow easily. I stick with 10, 12 foot leaders and ten feet of #6 or #7 tippits. Perhaps key to fooling Hat trout is dragless natural presentation using Fall River technique of letting the dry fly dead drift downstream toward rises rather then up and drift down.

  Resident Insects

  Among the many bugs living the Hat Creek high life are Pteronarcys Californica Salmon Fly, Acroneuria Pacifica Golden Stone, Epeorus Mayfly, Caddis (many strong hatches), Ephemerella Inermis Pale Morning Dun, Ephemerella Grandis Green Drake, Paraleptophlebia Mahogany Dun, Pseudocloeon Turbidum Small Western Olive, and many others...

  Ripple Quick Water

  A word of caution regarding often large crowds on or near fast water sections, if your of the fly fishing mentality that says, "Hey, bigger the crowds the better, more fun, people to converse with and network, socialize.... If you fit this model of fly fisher, Hat Creek especially the fast water sections will feel just like home! On the weekends and holidays all access parking lots are full and it looks like Macy's one day a year sale...

  If large crowds are your cup of tea, you may want to observe the standard mutual respect rules in play on crowded waters, give the other guy there first plenty of elbow casting room, respect the rights of your fellow fly throwers in regard to space and casting lanes.

  Hat's fast waters are full of healthy trout which is why you have all that lovely company standing all around you... Remember when no hatches are happening (rare!) Nymphs and streamers can make your day Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry Baby). (If you have excellent boxing skills? Disregard this paragraph!)

  Slow Water Tactics

  After you have become acclimated to clear water as pretty as any where, it will be time to confront if you actually see any, Trout.These fish with many years of human graduate studies in behavior and predictability will appear out 60/70/80 feet away. If you can consistently hit a 15 inch circle with your fly at these distances, life will be much easier upon the Hat. Presentation of the flies you bought at one of the local fly shops must be drag free and nine out of ten casts one is simply allowing line to unspool downstream into an ongoing hatch. As is the case on the equally crystal clear Fall River learning to dead drift down towards a rise rather then up and drifting back towards you. It is the only way Hat Creek graduate trout will be interested, if you allow your line to drift ahead of your fly down stream, you may as well pack up and find that burger stand cowboy, your finished!

  In my out door life going back to early 1950s including many countries in Asia, Canada, and almost every state in America, Hat Creek is as difficult to understand as any waters!

  The clarity alone is mesmerizing and in essence your worst enemy, when the wind picks up or if your lucky a rain shower occurs, your luck will change until Hat's surface becomes still and the transparency returns...

  Access to Hat Creek is under the control of Pacific Gas and Electric who own most of the land near the creek. The wild trout section north and south of Hiway#299 is in the area between Burney and Fall River. The area known as Hat Creek Park moving east on Hiway#299 it is about 4 miles from the junction of Hiway # 299 and Hiway #89. This wonderful easy to reach park has pick nik tables and is well maintained, of course here is where you and your many, many new fly brothers and sisters will be meeting each other on weekends especially! There are a few other access points, one would be well served to stop and ask smiling locals what areas are producing?

  If anywhere in America covets the Catch & Release philosophy it is Hat Creek, one must be aware every move, cast, presentation will probably be witnessed by many of your new fly fisher compatriots.... One needs to learn to play fish as quickly as possible and not use tippits so light break offs occur. Nets usually do more harm then good as they rub off a lot of the trouts natural protective films. If you have any flies with barbs, use your pliers and make them barbless. Game Wardens and journeyman bug throwers get highly anxious around those novice sportsmen who are not savvy to these basic rules not only on the Hat, in my mind they ought to apply everywhere period!

  Local Contacts

  The eastern area of Shasta County is hailed as the most carefully maintained wild trout zone in California with a fine assortment of quality motels, restaurants and sleepy old world village like towns. Clearwater House on Hat Creek is popular and very nice contact (530) 355-5500, campgrounds are abundant and usually vacant midweek. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park located 5 miles and change north of Hiway#299 on Hiway#89 is a splendid park with an energizing waterfall not to be missed contact, (530) 335-2777.

  To acquire latest area information contact the Burney Chamber of Commerce at, (530) 335-2111. Those who like to chase little white balls around may want to contact the Fall River Golf Course, (530) 336-5555. It would be prudent to stop and ask fly shops, locals, or the forestry service what special rules may apply when you decide to take on the Hat? Practice long casting and dragfree presentations, it will make your Hat Creek trip most memorable.


© Phil Frank 2002

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


  Headline San Francisco Chronicle, "President Lost or Kidnaped?". Fletcher Quill and his posse now composed of the two world class invisible surfers Jason Aki and Jive Boy along with Quills new aid de camp global sniper Duke Parker are scrambling around the living quarters of Sharon Stones old 17 million dollar crib in toney Sea Cliff about one block from Robin Williams Estate, Pacific Ocean waves break on the private beach just downstairs. Quill's new chef from Masa's Enre veins popping out of his lovely French face confronts Quill and his boys with the unbelievable morning papers...It appears the Chief or the Cowboy has gotten himself either lost or captured while heading down Lombard Street high as a silk kite on the finest LSD, he and his wooden stick pony were last seen heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge early Friday night. The boys tried to chase him down, but alas he and the stick horse were just too fast!

"Fletcher look outside man, is that a black special Ops chopper circling above dude?"

"Oh Yeah, I thought so, its none other then Slick Brainy dudes (The VP) and take look at that bad boy silent matt black bird he's driving."

"Long time no hang Slick, know why you're here, just saw the morning papers. Come upstairs to Sharon's old library and we can go over the maps and find the Chief pronto!"

"Relax Quill, we know where he is and you and your boys led by Duke Parker are going to be dropped into the Haight Ashbury district at 3Am. It's going to be a repeat of Escape from New York gentlemen. The Chief is being held by members of the cunning Haight St. Liberal mob who calls itself "The Peoples Only Answer". We know they have him because we got this e-mail three hours ago", We have him, we will let him go unharmed if you meet these demands. #1. Create an independent citizen watchdog group to oversee all military operations and any potential conflicts that may result in American's risking their lives. #2 Pay back every dime to any and all countries we have manipulated, lied too, killed leaders, or generally stolen from. #3 Begin telling American students the real history of this country from the beginning, especially the aspect of the huge lie called manifest destiny, explain how we early American settlers committed genocide upon the rightful owners of this land native American's. Begin to explain in detail how this country and other powerful nations truly operate out of greed and fear. #4 Under no circumstances ever mess with the left coast or the wrath of radical liberals will rise once again! #5 Tell the real truth about our own leaders who were supposedly assassinated by crazed gunman, in reality were eliminated by the powers who run the global military industrial complex and of course the mob! There are other demands, these are the main beefs."

"Duke can you handle this covert operation and more to the point do you think Fletcher and his posse can actually be of help?"

"No problem Mr. Vice President, Quill and I have a lot of mud under our feet, Marine Corps mud. You and your black bird drop us in and will snatch the Cowboy toots sweet!"

"Listen Quill, you know how pissed off I'm over this insane debacle and the global ramifications if this ever got out! So boys lets say we lay out our cards here clearly, if you fail to recapture the Chief I have no recourse but to take quick steps to neutralize you and your posse dude comprende?"

"Hold on their Slick, the Secret Service detail that was supposed to be keeping an eye on the Cowboy was busy listening to Keith Richards tell stories about he and Mick squaring off and going to blows over the Knighthood dealy. That dam punch bowl was spiked and lets face it how the hell could any of us get in the way of that fast wooden stick horse!"

  Duke Parker and the boys hold their mouths trying not to laugh as Slick gets more wound up.

"Ok, very funny, now when we get the Chief back safe and straight lets use my new silent no blade wash Ops Chopper and sample your local fly fishing action Mr. San Francisco."

  Fletcher and the lads begin the old Marine Corps ritual of quiet solo centering as each member of the now deemed , "Escape From New York Crew" retire to their private quarters upstairs in the Sharon Stone Sea Cliff Mansion known locally as the Lair of the Queen Bee Baby... 

  Quill and his loyal Abyssinian Cat Timba are snuggled up and reading the priceless copy of "The Book Of The Dead" stashed in the estate safe. The boys will be wearing authentic 1967 Hippy garb armed with pockets full of Save The Whales and Gay Pride Parade buttons just in case they are captured.
Quills new aid decamp global sniper hard core Marine ground pounder Duke Parker knocks on the new Secretary of the Interior's lavish movie star top floor penthouse.

"Fletch, we got more trouble Marine, looks like your two old Frisco pals Terry (T-Man) Kennedy and the now infamous punch bowl fixer Shelly Simon are in on this Chief kidnap caper. I just got straight up Intel they organized the whole thing dude! So, now we know who to ask for when we get in country or in Hippy."

"Duke, before we get into that mess, I got a surprise for you. Here wear this one million dollar multi function chronograph I designed for my ten best friends. That watch friend is one of a kind and if we get captured it has a locating beeper sensor that may save our old butts dude!Now, one more thing Duke, it seems the ghost of the great conjurer John Dee has been playing games back at Ravens Haven. It says here in my copy of The Book Of The Dead chapter 666, visitations of beings with supernatural powers and reputations often signal the start of extreme psychic phenomenon. Now how the hell can I harness this otherworldly energy and have Mr. John Dee help us find the Chief?"

  Jason Aki and Jive Boy hook up in the mansion kitchen looking for late night snacks as a full orange Moon descends over the now glowing Golden Gate Bridge view from the kitchen table.

"Jive, this Escape from New York recapture the Chief operation will call for our maximum invisibility fellow dude!"

"Jason, man I can hardly wait to get to the Haight, this Duke Parker character is pretty tight with the boss, guess all that Vietnam insanity creates quite the brotherhood!"

"You know Jive after this action we can get back to throwing flies and all that jazz dude."

"I'm still feeling silly after the Fillmore scene, so Jason how is the new wife doing with her hubby hanging with Fletcher and all this stuff we seem to get into dude?"

"She don't like it and I can't quit the boss end of story. Guess the woman always come in second in this world, except maybe la Sharon hey bud.Maybe I can ask Quill to do alittle fly action back in Michigan and help me sooth the home fires..."

  As the crew hunkers down for a quick few hours of rest before the show begins, San Francisco's night time lullaby fog horns along with the wispy fog begins enchanting the Sea Cliff Estate. A few minutes before midnight staff gently knocks on Timba and Quills door.

"Excuse me sir, it appears Ms. Stone is upset!"

"Sharon baby, have you seen anything in the news about the Chief in the last few hours?"

"Listen carefully sport, I'm getting very off balance by your prolonged absence. I could care less about your adventures with the Cowboy. Tell me exactly when your coming back to Ravens Haven or I will hop a jet and be in San Fran before morning."

"Ok, blondy what's really going on?'

"You know what these little creature friends of your's and this ghost of John Dee have been up to here. They now think they own the castle, I walked into your tying room and they were making these voodoo looking dolls out of your feathers and stuff.'

"That won't hurt anything and if it keeps them busy and they stay away from my rare flies, maybe I can..."

"Stop right there lord Of The Flies, how about this scenario get these tiny barbarians to help me resurrect my movie career and you and I have no further problems. By the way your old friend and San Fran hippy music scene legend Chet Helms just died."

"Man, loved that guy a real icon in every way. Him and Bill Graham were the first to organize the music scene with Tom Donahue and Dirk Dirkson, I'm proud to say I walked briefly with those giants baby..."

  Another knock on the door and staff whispers to Quill,"Mr. Slick says its time to suit up sir."

  The coal black OPS Chopper sits quietly humming as the boys get ready to load up and drop into the Haight Ashbury, Slick Brainy dressed like Batman on a bad hair day climbs into the pilots seat and the show is about to begin...


Stay tuned for next episode -"Haight Street special ops rescue or is it time for hail to the new chief baby?"


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


Written by Dan Fallon © 2005
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2005

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


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info



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