Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.8  2003  


   Autumns Expected Flirtations Upstaged by Massive Levee Break

  Fly fisher heaven was dealt a serious blow early August when an overfed, swelling Fall River in California finally pushed its way through a levee and dropped in a short time over 36 inches. This eco disaster is blamed on several factors by local and state officials. First excuse, a virulent strain of river weed has been growing rapidly and chocking the river while causing the volume to increase. Its pitiful to watch big browns and rainbows struggling to find their way around this weed taking the life and oxygen from the river. Weather here has been very hot, in the 100s for extended periods of time. It is possible even a remote place like the Fall can be feeling the effects of too much heat. The heat alone is surely a major factor, yet this weed has gone unchecked here for many years?. One would imagine other fly fishers and fish and game officials would have spotted this weed and began the process to identify it and get rid of it? As and outsider, I have questions and few answers in regard to how this weed problem became so deadly and caused this levee break that has stopped all river activity. Truth of the matter is the weed probably was identified early on by naturalists and the possible negative future scenarios were weighed. If any action of any kind is ever undertaken to either get rid of or control this weed a tangled web of; impact studies, federal, local, environmental agencies, watch dog groups, public hearings and other voodoo will without fail allow this weed another ten to fifteen years, time enough to break a few more levies. It is difficult to witness such a profound event and not become emotionally involved, my favorite excuse for the levee break in the words of a local farmer "Must be those ground burrowing things, Nutria or whatever those fury digging things are called, weakened the levies, that’s what they did."

  As I moved into the misty morning this morning, I felt like Thomas Hood when he wrote "I saw Autumn in the misty morn stand shadows like silence, listening to silence."

© Dan Fallon 2003

  Mornings are still a wonder and though the action has slowed and fewer trout rising rings can be seen. It is only mother nature rearranging trout and deciding which bugs to let be born. The upset in the rivers natural order can be observed in the displaced insects like the grasshoppers that were in the fields now flooded are everywhere you look. Geese are beginning to assemble in large flocks and mother deer and surviving babies are looking fit and healthy. Trout are more concentrated as I still spend most mornings looking for surface activity and throwing in likely places. I have noticed everything slowing down as It must every year when temperatures cool down. Summer is not over yet, but it is in retreat as the Fall River begins to adjust to this slight bump in the road. It was a once in a life time experience to be on a major river that suddenly begins running backward. I have been careful to observe every nuance of change in the insects, birds, fish in the area. Basic logic suggests a sudden change in either river depth or direction along with high temperatures must have a profound effect on unseen forces such as magnetic fields, migration routes for insects like grass hoppers, smaller birds such as finches, warblers, many insect eating birds that live near farms and rivers are for the moment displaced, disoriented. Impact of this sudden change will be carefully observed and I hope to witness many more of Mother Natures reactions to this new set of influences. Ancient cave dwelling hunters and gatherers fished and hunted by this valley water. Hopefully man will never have such a foothold in this rivers flow and life as to be the final regulating force. Don ‘t mess with Mother nature, you’ll be sorry if you do, you live in her domain, she might walk all over you.

© Dan Fallon 2003
Fall River rainbow

  It estimated four months or longer to first rebuild a road to get to the damaged levee, then move enough earth to rebuild it. The water has not dropped much since the first brake happened almost two weeks ago. Many locals that take water from the river are worried it may get too low to take water for home use and drinking. One can easily see the evidence of a 36 inch drop in depth, weeds and reeds now have a distinct lighter band where the water level once was. Now all boats tied to docks are almost in the mud and large flocks of geese have moved onto new open mud flats created by shrinking water levels. A more than three foot drop estimated at around 36 inches has for the moment created perhaps both an interruption of life and an unexpected window for new life to establish as new land is flooded. In the course of all rivers natural history many factors influence its direction and next meander, floods, droughts, sediment collection, and sadly man. If this weed is found to be directly connected to either global warming or worse transported on the bottom of boats or seeds arriving on migrating birds? However it got to a near perfect still wild place like Fall River, for the sake of all the wild rivers left in America and the world, hopefully this mystery can be quickly solved.

© Dan Fallon 2003

  It is gratifying to see the whole community of Fall River Mills pitch in and help the farmers and others on the river do what has to be done to survive this serious break. Hopefully other communities will now consider the health of their local rivers in regard to foreign weed growth and the innate fragility built into all wild rivers. Man (Pacific Gas & Electric) does have some control with the water coming out of natural springs out of the ground and not solely from mountain run off. This unique artesian spring like situation means this water runs about the same volume and at a fairly steady 44/54 temperature range year round. Though the last two years have been hotter than usual locals say, its is difficult to watch pristine area’s feeling the effects of this obviously real condition Global Warming. Fly Fishers, farmers, naturalists, bird watchers, hunters always see the first signs of damage.


© Phil Frank 2002

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


  Quill and Timba stood motionless mouths agape as the endless stacks of model suitcases continued to reach closer to the castles 25 foot ceilings. Fletcher remembered his dream the other night after a dark moonless sky left only the smell of the Irish sea and soft winds. Fly fisher fairies gathered at his feet and in sweet tiny voices said "You have three wishes sir, only three, better consider carefully." Without a thought Quill responded Eternal Peace and tranquility will be my first two wishes." Timba suddenly jumps out of Fletchers arms as Misty grabs his arm "Quilly we are famished after watching those boys work so hard! Love this little castle of yours, how old is it?" "Its five hundred and aging quickly, lets all adjourn to the meditation room where lunch is being served." Quill always the polite host insists both young ladies walk up the winding staircase before him.

"Ladies I asked cook to prepare a few plates of local melons and cheese, breads and sweets. If you think of anything else just ask, we have all the beer, soft drinks whatever, and of course a full selection of bottled waters from around the world. The view from this chamber is haunting in late afternoon light." "Fletch, I know Keith is going to ask to come hang here, you know sweety he does get a bit side ways with that loud blues, all night attitude that follows him everywhere." "It would be an honor to have the unknighted Glimmer Twin give the castle more soul." "Fletcher you do have an A guest list I notice, my daddy the VP and now her Highness of Blondness Sharon Stone! So how exactly did you enchant all these bizarre personalities Quilly Willy." Sabine’s perfect outline in shadow quivers across the castles fire lit walls "Guess it has to do with that natural vibe you have or don’t have, it attracts others of the same pulse rate, it really runs deeper. An old friend author Ken Kesey once told me" Its in the air in San Francisco and in those born there. A mystical all loving all forgiving spirit that leaves no one left out or forgotten. Its that old Hippy Boulogne, best Boulogne in the deli. "That reminds me, better give Sharon a buzz."

  Fletcher and Timba walk over to the empty window seat that looks out at the always moving Irish Sea. Quill listens for that angelic voice that has haunted many men’s dreams "Sharon, Quill here, catch you at a good time?" "Sure, nice to hear from you way out on that castle of yours, any guests?" "Yes, a special day Misty and Sabine just in from Paris Dior show and getting settled nicely, lunching in the meditation chamber as we speak." "Ok Quill so what do I have to do to get invited?" "I was going to say whenever your new Hollywood schedule allows, let us know about anything extra special you enjoy food wise." "Wonderful, my new back to the wicked ways of Hollywood routine includes plenty creative energizing travel to places like yours Mr. Quill. You know your new neighbor with the Gulfstream is an old pal of mine, he would let me tag along I’m sure if you sort of hinted at it?" "No worries Sharon, done deal, it won’t take much arm twisting." "So what kind of fiction are you doing these days?" "Have a screen play with a great part for you. Adaptation of Mia Farrows Book on Sinatra. You and I must chat about that. My monthly fly column and other work keeps me busy." "I will call uncle Phil and maybe next month we can chat?" "Look forward to it Sharon, chow." Quill smiles, that was a fun call, never boring around here. He then rolls one of Timba’s favorite shinny silver soft balls and he is off flying across the hallway gathering up the carpet as he goes and Quill loves every moment as they begin another hour play session.

  One last listen to incoming calls before Fletcher can call it a day "Mr. Quill Tiger Woods looking for another sport with less yardage. After this last PGA butt kicking I need peace and quiet by the year full. Lets talk private lessons from the Quillmeister, here is my number, Oh yeah before I forget, Anna Kournakova is looking for a new gig as well, something about bad back no more contract?"

  Quill and Timba begin to tire from the days non stop fun as the Lord of Ravens Heaven once again ponders how exactly he lost his privacy? "ladies if you wish to join in the routine we observe here between 11am and 3pm, a period of meditation, message, exercise, reading or just being within one self at peace. Until 630 the dinner hour, please make yourselves comfy. The hot tub and music room are available, let staff know about any thing we can help with. One more thing, I have the only unauthorized copy of Mick, Clapton, me and a few other wannabes in the Sweetwater not long ago. If your into old stones, listen to the London Sessions with the Wolf and Brian Jones meets Muddy Waters Live.. I remember first Stones song that stuck me was "Lady Jane" I got that whole class romance structure question all the time as a boy."

  As "Lady Jane" plays in the back ground Quill and Timba taste the Irish wind and smell the strong sea smells of kelp and brine and fish, stiff wind moving air. Its home and its tranquility and Quill is feeling more at ease by the moment after a long message and nap he heads for the library.

  Pandora's secret box

  Over three thousand volumes of esoteric works including first editions of The Golden Bough, Ulysses, Wasteland, and Ezra Pounds earliest Chinese translations. Illuminated manuscripts pertaining to ancient mythology passed on priest to priest through time. Many works on obscure and famous poets, especially women world poetry dating back many thousands of years. Quills love of astronomy, chemistry, fly fishing, history well represented. One area reserved for important archeological discovery portfolios bought, stolen, acquired by any means. 

  This section where portfolios from African, Egyptian, Tibetan discoveries dating back over 500 years, is Quills main study area. Here he keeps like a lion keeps his favorite meats, his current most cherished possession. A ten inch authentic patch of the "Ice Mans" Hunting Quiver. The piece was never recorded and never missed, it cost Quill 25 large for this artifact. The quiver where the famous Hunter Gatherer found frozen some years ago stored his magic mushrooms and medicine potions. This section of the Quill library also contains a glass case sealed at special atmospheric conditions to preserve the five Bamboo Fly rods that once belonged to Alexander The Great. If this impressive collection were not breath taking enough with the mentioned items. One more treasure makes it world class from any historians perspective. The only known complete California Dry Fly collection tied with the hair from Lewis & Clark’s faithful black Newfoundland dog.

  Whenever Fletcher returns to his castle a mandatory long stroll through all the nooks and crannies where he and Timba have chased balls together or where they have warmed window seats with an undying devotion Quill savors every day. Looking out the library window Sabine and Misty are taking in the afternoon wind as old Stones tunes mesmerize. Fletcher picks up the 1954 First Edition "Beginning and the End and other Poems" by Robinson Jeffers. Just as he began reflecting back to Tor House and Jeffers organic feel for coastlines Californian or anywhere. Sabine pops her head in the door" Mr. Quill Keith wants to know if he can stop by for a visit while I’m here learning from the master?" "Of course, staff will prepare the 10,000 watt rock suite I use from time to time, has everything and the view, he can throw a scarf over the lights, burn incense and he is home Rastaman I and I are one man." Fletcher takes his usual final tour of the grounds and asked staff if all is taken care of? The ladies seem to be as mesmerized as all recent guests, taking over the Media and the Rock Suites, Life on this tiny tip of Irish coastline can be serene when you have a sound proof castle where everyone can have all the quiet desired as the Irish winds blow in and out with your thoughts and dreams. Before ending his routine and heading back to his own eagles nest, he ponders taking one last look to see if the phone message machine maybe has a sweet call from Sharon or Pam or Martha or Priscilla or Anna or Jewel or Karen or ?

  Night Falls On Ravens Heaven 

  Quill finally finding a quiet moment stares out at the pitch black moonless Irish night and is reminded why romantic poets like Alfred Lord Tennyson understood the power of black night,

Come into the garden, Maud
For the black bat, night, has flown
Come into the garden , Maud,
I’m here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the rose is blown.

  The moment lingers as Timba crawls up on Quills lap and they sink into their favorite pitch dark window seat and listen to the waves break and smell the salt air as the days surprises and continuing relentless lack of privacy appear to be of mild concern. In the morning its Model Fly Fishing Boot Camp, Day#1, Introduction to your Fly Rod.

  Will The Models Make The Cut? Tune In Next Month



Fletcher Quill, part 1
Fletcher Quill, part 2
Fletcher Quill, part 3
Fletcher Quill, part 4
Fletcher Quill, part 5
Fletcher Quill, part 6
Fletcher Quill, part 7
Fletcher Quill, part 8
Fletcher Quill, part 9
Fletcher Quill, part 10
Fletcher Quill, part 11
Fletcher Quill, part 12
Fletcher Quill, part 13
Fletcher Quill, part 14


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

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


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info




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