|Column nr.8 2000|
Its as if the whole world stopped thinking about five pound trout by the score cruising very close to the surface. It is a natural fact as the water begins to chill to well under fifty degrees a wonderful transformation takes place. Most all species of game fish including trout no longer hide on the bottom where the cold water exists. In as much as fish in general are slave to water temperature variance. Game fish adhere to temperature changes much like politicians listen to latest polls. My least favorite fly fishing venue is lake fishing. In the summer months when surface temps are warmer it is for me torture trolling deep fly rigs for hours on end. The only solace is the early morning late afternoon rising fish and those jewelry like rings that evaporate and act as targets for those who love to throw dry flies.
In my hometown of Marin County California we are lucky to have several water holding reservoirs that can be fly fished all year long. In the hot Summer months when I get the urge to throw bugs and want to forgo the three to four hour drive needed to access productive water. These local reservoirs do hold trout and are stocked on a regular basis. I have seen fish caught on occasion by sportsmen with serious patience and outstanding local knowledge. In the years I have spent trying every trick in the fly fishers book to fool these fish. Its been sheer boredom and endless waiting for a bump or signs of aquatic life... Lets face it, seasoned fly fishers all seem to agree streams and rivers hold the magic combination of fast water and feeding currents where holding fish wait for food opportunities to float by. What exactly are the usual methods one can employ to go after lake fish. Trolling has always been number one and for me the most boring. Waiting for often endless periods while cruising up and down lakes as your eyes remain glued to the rod tip waiting for a hit. Suspending flies at different depths and every so often giving the rod alittle snap, oh yeah, very exciting stuff!
If the family treasure chest will not allow you to purchase that twenty five thousand-dollar jet boat from which you might cruise the waterways. Then you can polish up that five-dollar folding deck chair and take your rightful place alongside the other six million shore fly fishers. You my lucky friend may be sitting in the catbirds seat and not even realize it. Why you ask, because when old man winter comes to your local lake and the surface temperatures drop the resident fish will almost always head for shallow shore waters and take advantage of the no fishermen plenty of available food scenario. The fly fishing gods do smile on the common man and boy from time to time. In my life many of the most outstanding fishing adventures have taken place either on shore or near shore in waders. If youre into float tubes and the freedom they offer a whole new exciting world awaits. These tubes have become the poor mans answer to mobility and the best seat in the house. When it comes to throwing flies at rising trout its my personal favorite way to attack lake trout. Its thrilling to slip into the water at day break silently moving into position feeling, smelling, tasting the atmosphere. I have been lucky to hook three and four pound trout why float tubing. Then letting they drag me for a moment before removing my barbless hook and never taking them out of the water letting them go. This kind of fly fishing would appeal to all ages and especially ladies and kids who might not have any interest in the sport. Winter is the best time to try all these methods on your local lakes. Do yourself a big favor and buy a good quality float tube. They only cost about one hundred and fifty for a good one and worth every penny! If any readers out there have exciting lake fishing tales to tell, Im listening?
Of course I never mean to insinuate my personal Lone Wolf style of fly fishing is the only way to enjoy this sport. I suppose those with carloads of family and friends can haul the gang down to their favorite fishing hole and make a party of it. I guess the crowd mentality may appeal to a few of you overly needy fly fisher types? I will concede thrills may be had elbowing and screaming across tranquil waters while trying desperately to snag fish. That have already left the county after hearing your over loaded four wheel drive lumber along stream side? One tiny word of caution to all of you who feel the need to turn quiet rivers and streams into crowd control nightmares. After the dust clears and your five year old stops whinning and screaming for attention and your dog Rex quits barking, and you have had enough of slamming car doors and trunks. You may hear the distinct sound of a 12-gauge shotgun bolt hitting cold steel while being cocked! Listen very carefully friends, what youre hearing may be the real thing...
After being discharged from the Marine Corps in the early 1970s. I decided to rent a small cabin just outside upstate New York at a place called Fort Erie. It was only a one room little place out by itself many miles from the nearest town. I wanted this tiny cabin because excellent duck and pheasant fields were close by, as were wonderful small streams full of fish. In the six months I stayed alone in this special slice of outdoorsmen heaven. This was my usual daily routine with minor changes depending on the weather. I had a battery-operated radio and no telephone, which I loved. The cabin had a small pot belly stove and plenty of dry wood stacked next to the front door. Local squirrels soon found out I was an easy touch for table scraps and made the time much more fun watching them scurry all over the place on their daily foraging runs. The property around the cabin had many trees and was home to all kinds of finches and worblers. These colorful little lighter then air fast movers must have talked to the squirrels! They also began to line up each morning looking for free meals of bread pieces and whatever else I had left over. These many odd creatures became my only live interaction for the entire six-month stay. What supreme bliss it was to awake each morning to their collective symphony of sounds and chatter...
I would alternate either getting up at the crack of dawn and taking my 12 gauge down to one of the blinds I had fashioned streamside. Then waiting with duck call in hand for the usual mid morning arrival of colorful ducks wings locked and answering my haphazard call. If the action never happened and at times it didnt, then it was off to the pheasant fields about twenty minutes away. I had arranged to use two local Lab hunting dogs in exchange for an occasional bird or duck. These two sister dogs would hear my old pickup crunching up their driveway and without fail tails wagging and barking up a storm jump in the truck. On one of the mornings I took the sister labs looking for cock pheasants. We headed for one of the farm fields I had bribed an owner with a bottle of single malt scotch. It was a grand hunt that morning upon fields still wet with dew and gently covered with that low lying Tuly Fog that makes such a hunt pure gold to behold. After missing many good ducks and getting my shotgun chops sharpened. On this morning I was the man, atleast in the eyes of the two sister labs. We agreed together to walk a distant hedgerow of freshly cut crop edge. In the first ten minutes boom up goes a fat cock and bam I nail him and the sisters have him in my hands in about thirty seconds. Then we move another fifty yards and wham another good size bird is up and cackling like hell, bam he goes down and the sisters look at me like school kids meeting the Dali Lama. These rare near perfect bird hunting moments still rattle around in my brain compartment. Those who have paid their shotgun learning dues know what I mean when I say. Nothing in sports can be more humbling then realizing your shotgunning skills are way behind the birds your trying to knock down, It takes alot of time to hone these upland bird bagging skills and alot of practice to boot!
Frozen still in my memory is the morning I found my favorite little upstate stream completely covered in ground hugging Tuly Fog. I knew several eight to ten inch Rainbows lived there and I knew exactly where I had found them the week before. I stood well back from the stream and without being able to see the slow moving water. Threw my hand tied Royal Coachmen just forward of a large boulder. In about two seconds whack a ten incher took it and started its run up stream and into a little pool I still couldnt see. I played him for about five minutes around that pool and eventually brought him in and gently let him loose. In the minutes we went around that pool together. I still recall the Tuly Fog and the sound of water rippling that I was blind to... When the six months of wilderness bliss came to and end and it was time to begin my post Marine Corps life. I took a last walk round the little cabin and bid farewell to all the creatures who had brought me such pleasure. When that old pick-up truck headed out for the last time. I saw a furry line of squirrels busy eating my last scraps in the rearview mirror...
One last peek in my fly rearview mirror and that will complete this months sojourn back in my fly-times. This fifty yard dash into fly throwing archives would not be complete without paying homage to one of the finest men and most astute trout fishermen I have ever known. My ex-father in law and one time best friend and hunting fishing partner Ron Wilson of Yosemite National Park fame. Almost twenty years ago I got the luckiest break any newly wed could imagine. On top of marrying the prettiest girl in Yosemite, I also got to know her father Ron Wilson. Ron had just finished a 37-year run as a park technician in charge of many projects including park tree infestation protection. This guy knew the park like his own backyard and introduced me to the Park Superintendent who helped me write a feature article on the park for Western Outdoors Magazine titled "Trout Take Over Yosemite in The Fall". This article can be found in the content section of this webzine. Ron Wilson was a real cowboy and all around skilled outdoorsmen. In the first few years I was around the ranch, he looked upon me as an alien creature from the big crazy San Francisco spread. He tolerated me because his sweet daughter must have hit her head and fallen for the San Francisco outdoor writer...
Heads up to all of you would be fly fishers of both genders and all ages. I will be holding special classes this spring in Yosemite consisting of two days of both classroom and time on the water. Classes will be limited to only five per session and alot of one on one instruction. Those interested can stay at the wonderful and haunted Mariposa Hotel Inn. Phone # 209-966-4676 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This historic Inn has been a favorite haunt as it were for many deceased exguests who regularly surprise those who think ghosts dont really exist!! I will be holding my classes there with Lynn the proprietor and head ghost buster. Those who have followed this monthly column know I have assembled a worldwide network of experienced guides who specialize in the most extreme fly fishing one can imagine. If you would like to throw bugs at fish that dwell in exotic places like Mongolia, the outer reaches of China, New Zealand, Amazon River, Africa, Ireland, Australia or anywhere big fish take flies. Call my number and lets turn your stream dreams into real thrills you will never forget. In places like Alaska or any of the prime North American waters such as Yosemite National Park or the wild badlands up on the Fall River near Mt. Shasta. My guide friends and I can take care of all aspects of your adventure and put you on the fish of your choice. Sounds too good to be true and you think youre not up to an international fly fishing trip? Think again friend, its never too late to get just alittle crazy with that fly rod gathering dust over in the corner! Call Dan Fallon at 415-332-3803 I specialize in extreme dreams that will make your fly reel scream for mercy anywhere anytime.
by Dan Fallon, November 2000 ©
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