|Column nr. 7 2006|
RIVER FLY XANADU
Ancient Mariners consulted the Oracle of Delphi before venturing across uncharted waters... My first trip into the Feather River watershed began by contacting Susi Brakken at the Plumas County Visitors Bureau www.plumascounty.org or Phone (800) 326-2247 in Quincy California. Speaking with Susi in regard to Plumas County felt much like asking Donald Trump how to navigate in the Big Apple!
First impressions driving up North on Highway five from San Francisco then heading East from Red Bluff on Highway thirty six toward the mountain village of Chester population 5,047 awfully contented souls, reminded me of the first time I saw Yosemite as a youngster. Lush green timber abounds and one begins to taste the magic of old California before pavement and endless building overcame natural beauty... Air as pure and crisp as a new puppies breath over takes the senses, my fly fisher heart recalled the Edgar Allen Poe quote, "All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream" On the way into the town of Chester I first took a drive about half way around lake Almanor where peace and quiet ruled the morning! Scattered like castles in the mist vacation homes and perfect clean beaches announce to all who venture, "This is a place where the word pristine actually qualifies!" Those sportsmen who favor quality uncrowded lake fishing can contact the Almanor Fishing Association at their web site www.almanorfishingassociation.com.
Travelers beware, upon first seeing the tranquil sparsely populated town of Chester where people smile at strangers and at each other, where dogs are as well known as the Mayor, where kids ride bikes as if it were the early 1950s? Your entire concept of life ala 2006 will be destroyed as the small town atmosphere allows you to take in the mountain air and wonder what such an unhurried life might offer? Fly fishers, bird watchers, naturalists of any and all persuasions this place my friends is as close to Xanadu as you may ever find! Many well kept motels and B&B's exist, I was lucky to stay at the newly built Best Western hosted by a local fisherman Glen Long www.rosequartzinn.com . Glen gave me the rundown on local fly fishing action and the town in general. After check in I headed straight out of town toward the town of Quincy, less then ten miles from Chester I found several places to drown my own flies tied special for this trip. Because it is still early in the season and the waters are only beginning to slow one has several choices in pattern selections.
Large Orange Stone (Pteroarcys Californica), Golden Stone (Acroneuria Californica), Tiny Yellow Stone (Isoperia) and Blue Winged Olive (Baetis). I also used an old Hexagenia pattern from when I lived on the Fall River some years ago... Within three casts I got a series of quick hits and landed two beautiful native Rainbow's in the 12 inch class at the first stop. By late afternoon many native bows kept me happy! This is not easy fly fishing as these fish can afford to be selective, I had to crouch down and keep shadows off the water and keep moving after spooking a pool or riffle. It was difficult at times to concentrate as the natural beauty, endless greenery, absolutely no other anglers began to lull me into a state of bliss...
My friends call me Mr. Wolf as I spend much of my fly fisher life trying to avoid other humans as much as possible while on the water. Feather River will accommodate this mind set completely I promise. This aspect alone won me over quickly, after taking water samples and spending time examining fresh Mountain Lion tracks and scat. I headed back to Chester with a afternoon of true fly fisher joy peculating in this ancient soul... In regard to fly line set up, I used my own 4 pound test leader about 10 feet long followed by #5 weight tippit. The above mentioned stone flies were first skimmed up and across currents on a dead drift, then allowed to slowly sink in the surface film. When this failed to get a trout to rise, I switched to a Wooly Bugger or my old Fall River Hexagenia pattern with much success... Keeping low profile on these clear waters is mandatory, I did not wade at all as it wasn't necessary to disturb stream beds because one could easily cast to almost in place without upsetting the natural order.
Stream Habitat Restoration
After meeting the highly efficient Susi Brakken and her associates, I was honored with a face to face hour chat in the adjoining office with John Sheehan and Aqua scientist Project Manager Jim Wilcox. Jim gave me a concise over view of the Plumas County Stream Restoration activities complete with before and after photos. The short story is that the Feather River watershed over a period of many decades has had to withstand a variety of natural and man made assaults on its integrity and health. Heavy winter rains have caused the rivers and streams to become washed out and the sides of many creeks, streams to become severely undercut! Early pioneer cattle did their part in soil erosion and meadow destruction before the effects were truly understood..
Jim said the learning curve in the first years was steep, after some experimentation a plan developed that included creation of Earth Plugs positioned in strategic places and at times digging out shallow channels. This allowed natural forces to reinvigorate streams, creeks and allow them to once again find their natural directions with once dormant grass seeds and other water loving plants to begin thriving again. As one can see by these before and after photo's, this revolution in stream restoration actually works and it works quite well!
Jim mentioned it takes three to five years for nature to reclaim her natural order and meander path. Proof is in the return of once thought lost waters with new lush vegetation creating a veritable nursery for insects, birds, butterflies.... One of the main characteristics of stream restoration is the lowering of water temperature, in the first assessments of potential areas to restore temperature readings along with careful stream profiles create a baseline of current health.
In Plumas County sustainable forestry and serious cleaning out of fire feeding dense brush has allowed more sunlight to find trees and kept a modest lumber business afloat. One can watch a few lumber trucks roll by and notice all the trees are about the same size, no old growth trees are cut period! In an age when conflicting forces are at odds over natural resource management, Plumas County in my humble opinion is a classic win, win! One does not see evidence of clear cutting or large bare treeless mountain tops.
(August fly column will highlight middle section and Greyeagle area in Part two)
"ADVENTURES OF FLETCHER QUILL"
Timba, Quill's beloved Abyssinian cat is busy chasing bright red feathers as he and his master spend quality private time in the castle fly tying tower. Quill harkens back to the famous Hemingway quote, " Once you experience Paris as a young man it becomes a moveable feast!"
This last period spent in his boyhood home San Francisco armed with new handle Secretary Of The Interior was sublime a truly moveable feast for the memory bank and the senses....
Sounds of gently breaking waves kissing the castle walls, diving seas gulls and salty Northern Ireland sea air fill the ears and noses of this now awfully notorious twosome. The five day welcome home feast planned by Quill's long time live in girlfriend Sharon Stone and her gal pal Jennifer was too much fun! Keith Richards on his way back to the Rolling Stones world tour has become one of Fletchers new best friends. His High Holiness the Dali lama appears to have found sanctuary in his castle suite, while Jive Boy and Jason Aki busy themselves preparing newly arrived ancient feathers that will be tied into one of a kind fly patterns. One disturbing E-Mail has arrived concerning one of Quill's most dear San Francisco pals Phil Frank who has been ill and is mounting a fine return to sound health, he is in the prayers of all castle occupants!
Quill recalls his favorite Robbinson Jeffers Poem, " For our country here at the west of things is pregnant of dreams; and west of the west I have lived; where the last low land outflanks..." In Fletcher's mind the west will always be the best...
Peace and quiet reflection is set aside as staff gently knocks and announces a Red Phone hotline call from the Cowboy, " Good morning General Quill or rather Sec.Quill. Why has your pal General Parker not completed his Paris Whack job Marine?"
"First Mr. President my condolences on your latest poll's, if it goes in lower whales will be keeping you company! Duke Parker has been on the trail of the two targets in Paris as they keep changing itinerary's and meeting in different cafe's. Duke's latest prototype DNA weapon is dialed in and I expect he will mark two more hits in his book before long sir."
"Yeah, those pesky polls keep getting in the way here in the Oval Office, hell your California Marine Hero pal Pete McCloskey pulled down 33% of that primary vote June 6th. Damnation I'd give anything for those numbers right now cowboy, you kiddin me, the Mom and the Ball & Chain are all over me like a cheap suit let alone the old man Hell ask any hombre this side of Texas son, do not mess with the Mom!"
"Excuse me sir, my beloved Marine Corps has been getting a lot of bullshit bad press lately, with your permission General Parker and myself would like to spend time in the field with one of the Recon outfits such as 3rd Force We that is Duke and I and most of the First Marine Division would like to buy Chesty Puller's old home now up for sale and turn it into a hallowed hall of all Marine Corp's Hero's from John Basilone to Chesty.. Bites my old ass that pathetic liberal America never gets it right, they would be speaking Chinese or Russian if it were not for my boys alive and dead!"
"Kinda hard for this old draft dodging college cheer leader to argue with that statement Marine! By the by did you see Tiger Woods is plus ten in the first round of the Masters? Couple months of rust to shake I guess. Sources tell me Tiger loves fly fishing and reads your monthly fly column General?, I hear Tiger and Lance Armstrong read your monthly fly column Quill, also Mike Tyson and the skinny blond bitch political pundit what's her name Ann Smelter, Poker what in hell is that girls handle ??, Oh boy Tiger missed making the cut, he's gone dude? Now what's up with that Soccer thing, hey man USA got a team in this thing or not, can someone please answer that for me?" Where's that tape of the VP going Dan Quail hunting, where is that dam thing?" Another confused Hollywooed minute their Pilgrim."
"Mr. President of course the latest Hollywood gossip ain't exactly my real estate of first choice. Now back to my Marine Corps. Speaking as a Reserve General and not Sec. of the Interior, my associate staff officers and I are not in complete agreement with all your policies sir, an purely personal geopolitical concern tempered with one over riding concurrence as General Mad Dog Midis so eloquently observed. When the bell for freedom rings Marines always answer first! No after espousing such hard core Corps values it is also my pleasure to be once again ensconced in my Raven's Haven with Timba, Irish sea air and what has become a most interesting social life!"
"So what's up with the Dali Lama and the Pope conspiring with you and old triple six A.C. The Beast hisself son?"
"I have already e-mailed a top secret video of and example of the potential of a phenomena described as Pyramid Shape Power Grids. It is incredible if proven to be legit? Of course our friend the Beast would never lie! If you have a few more moments sir, I have a few other topics you may enjoy?"
"I catch your drift there Mr. San Francisco Marine Bad ass, Never forget I'm well informed about your personal serious hard on in regard to the legendary screw-up Mogadishu cut and run operation, and the way it resonated within the hallowed halls where all the secret balls are stored under Chesty, John Basilone, General Mitis, every staff officer alive or dead who worked in or any 1st Marine outfit period. Your views are well known Marine! Now listen lets get into some lighter chin music dude. I hear you just bought John lee Hookers 600 Horse Power Turbo Charged Bad ass 1940 Ford Coup, equipped with three grand in digital stereo loaded with nothin but the Hook and Muddy , Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and you Quill doing "Happy""
"So out of control , not only that fine bad to the bone new addiction to go with the new F1 Italian Poney, and my brand new Kawi X14 200 horse 190 mile an hour street monster fastest bike period and of course my new 800 horse lowered supercharged Mustang!. Well Mr. President back to General Parker and the Paris whack job, word just in via satellite the two clients will be having their last supper at the infamous " Le Dome... end of the material existence occurs early this week."
Ah Le Dome, wonderful almost coherent memories of Montparnasse before the Ball & Chain was attached if you get my drift General? Now keep your eyes peeled this evening Slick Brainy is about twenty minutes from your castle in his brand spanking new K Street invented, paid for and provided by. Slick wants to hunt Irish Sea Salmon this evening you and him better suit up!"
In walks Sharon and slams the door behind her, both perfect hands on her perfect hips, still shaped like a awfully fit 20 year old highly educated nylon, high heeled wearing heart breaker...
"OK, fly boy, its show time drop that pussy and lets get busy flyboy!."
Three minutes later Timba jumps back on Quill's lap Slick Brainy"s shiny new too fast ultra trick personal chopper has landed on the castle roof Hilo pad.
"So Sharon sweetheart, you missed your Master baby..."
"Gee its almost as if you never left.... I could set my egg timer old man?"
His Highness The Dali Lama knocks and enters.
"Excuse me Mr. Quill, your kindness in letting me closely examine both your ancient rare coin collection and your rare hand made gold watch collection is the most incredible display I have ever seen. Your coins dating 500, 690 BC are in near perfect condition! The sunken treasure coins ahhh. If I might impose and ask to study your first editions, especially John Dee's first real contact with Angels dated march 10th 1582 and also perhaps the superb edition of Mr. Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica published 1564 if I recall sir? Oh and if you have a copy of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's 1576 World Map showing the existence of the Northwest Passage?"
"Your Holiness, let us adjourn to my library where Sharon and Jennifer may join us for Single Malt and Cigars if they wish, I have first editions of all the books you mention and one or two others you may enjoy including the last coins Hitler carried before taking his own life, The Beast loves to hold them in his hand, silly boy... Oh yes and the first edition Golden Bough kept under glass, and the Maximus Scretatis illuminated manuscript signed by John The Baptist and Noah of Noah's Ark."
"Quill, wait till you lower your bamboo under this new ultra quiet three seat Mach One chopper I just acquired. After lunch lets saddle up and chase those 100 pound King Salmon swimming just off the port side of this pile of rocks Marine!"
"Let me get The Dali Lama started and after a long lunch will catch the hot evening bite for sure Slick, long time no see pal, so how the hell is Phil? Is what's her name really going to take a run at 1600 in 2008? We really need another dysfunctional clan following another? Man, we want all the latest scoop dude. Hey Jive Boy, Jason, Dudes get your fly gear ready we leave after lunch..."
Tommy Chief Ghost Hunter San Francisco Ghost Society, Terry "T-MAN" , Shelly, (Natural woman) suddenly call in on a conference call wanting to speak directly to the spirit or materialization of the Beast and Mr. Kelly and John Dee and Dali Lama. Time to begin time line on Tibet International Kite Flying Olympics details.
"Fletcher we are all assembled here in the San Francisco's Mayor's Office with a host of local luminaries. We want to conference the Beast, Dali Lama about the pyramid Power grid and the Kite Olympics. We will be hooking up via Satellite in moments Sammy his high low, low majesty Abbott of San Francisco's spirit controlled, infested, ruled, underground sanctuary located under the fabled Golden Gate Park."
"Go ahead, ask away His Holiness the Dali lama, the slowly fading spirit of John Dee, The Beast, Mr. Kelly, Slick Brainy, Sharon, Jennifer and myself not to mention Timba."
"Hey Boys, Sammy the underground super magi whammy jammy speaking from the very bowels of San Francisco's spooky DO NOT GO THERE ALONE at night Golden Gate Park Baby. Look here Tommy, you and Quill may have a very high profile ghost identify, gig coming up at some wannbe Hollywood bimbette name Fawnny Sluton, who owns a toney townhouse in the Upper Haight that she swears is more haunted then Prince Charles new mistress if cowmilla ever catches him in a side booty call swear inside palace sources, You people think poor old " When I'm 64 Sir Paul was a complete moron for saying no prenup, how about our little Anna (the balcony is always full) Nicole winning over the supremes baby? Now about just giving away our old Johnny Carson's worldly goods for charity, We know Johnny would not have dug that dudes." So what's up with this Pyramid Power thingy?"
(Time for Kite Olympics kick off - will the beast and his boys evaporate?)
Read about Fletcher Quill in earlier chapters:
Written by Dan
Fallon © 2006
For Dan Fallon's earlier
and later columns; visit the table of contents