|Column nr.9 2000|
WINTERS GREY ROBES
Perhaps only poets, actors, magicians, writers, madmen and fly fishers are granted secret decoders when perfect moments occur? I urge all fly fishers to sample the cathedral like wonders of winter fly fishing wherever you may live. If you prepare with all the cold weather gear and handwarmers etc. You may find your secret decoder waiting to be activated. John Keats cradled his secret decoder when he said "aching time! Oh moments big as years"! In the morning ice cold, favorite Bamboo rod resting in numb fingers as mended line struggles to forget the tight coils it has slept in. Shafts of diffused light shoot at hard angles trying to steel one more morning before next snowfall. Standing up high on a rock ledge and staring mesmerized as the #16 Mosquito darts with each current pulse. The fly is danced near and under every ledge and stream edge over hang. Winter tippets very thin as the low water and super clarity mean extra stealth and caution are the rule. Standing up high, yet not casting a long shadow is the most satisfying and possibly the closest a human can get to what a cat must feel watching a mouse dart in and out of its hole. Ones eyes become digital radar scanners picking up any movement under water. The first few casts are sad limp attempts as cold fingers fail to remember or care. Then the temperature rises to early 40s and youre in heaven again. The line flows out fifty feet with ease and your hitting your target almost every time. Now we are rolling and easily covering every inch of each stream area fished. No hang-ups in trees, no retying flies after loosing favorite patterns. A sublime moment when a fly fishers life is good and nature allows your day dreams to feel the light of day..........
Those loyal fans of this column are aware of my passion for all things Alaskan. It seems the over fishing of the historic Bristol Bay has come to a fork in the road. The total run of Sockeye Salmon is down to 24.3 million. The previous ten year average was over 40 million. This serious drop of nearly 40% is indicative of the plight of Americas last true frontier. The rapid drop in annual Salmon runs impacts all creatures Alaskan. The Alaskan natural food chain has been hit hard by many opponents in the last twenty years. Sport Salmon fishing in the Bristol Bay/Lake llamna Region will be highly controlled with closures the rule. In short fly fishers, even this vast wilderness has been impacted by all the usual suspects. The state of Alaskas fishery is not reflected in cold statistics. It is not simply poor management or commercial over fishing. Global warming trends, dams a general decline in ocean fish stocks. Have all contributed to this ongoing decline and one can easily speculate what the odds are for recovery in the near future. The Bristol Bay area now has more fishing lodges then ever before. The attack of too many commercial fishermen in an area all ready under siege from sportfishers has taken its toll! The Alaskan Fish & Game authority has been operating under the guidelines of attempting to maintain a sustainable fishery for sometime. One can imagine the complexity of trying to fend off all the commercial, environmental, and sportsmen related pressures. While balancing tourism and maintaining a fishery that hopefully will one day stabilize before it reaches the point of no return. Thankfully in the past those fly fishers who were not up to serious backcountry fly fishing adventures. Were able to get off the plane in Anchorage and within a twenty-mile radius catch wild Salmon. Those halcyon days of unchecked rape and pillage in regard to once abundant fish. Have now become historic and quaint reminders of the bad old days when fish were too plentiful and rules were made to be broken. Now for the great news and possibly one of the last almost untouched fisheries in Alaska. Lake Marie Lodge located 90 miles from Anchorage and operated by the Wilson family. If youre up for world class king Salmon taken on the fly, or fat Rainbow Trout by the score. This is the place and the Wilson brothers John and Dave are your unforgettable guides. On the web check out their sight www.lakemarie.com or phone them at (907) 333-3477. In past columns I have written about my adventures attempting to break world records at this fantastic place. Please refer to contents section of this webzine for my two Alaskan tales titled "Monster Kings & Sweet Bamboo". A word to the ladies and other patient family members of serious fly fishers. The Alaskan experience is not just about the fantastic fishing available. Birds, bears, and majestic wilderness abound in most areas. One more wonderful Alaskan trait will hit all visitors between the eyes. The people of Alaska still have the spirit of unbridled adventure and hospitality coursing through their veins. I strongly urge all fly fishers and all would be adventure seekers to call your local airlines and experience what North America was like two hundred years ago.
EXTREME FLY FISHER QUIZ
This ten question pop quiz will help fly fishers and their families to determine how extreme and overly dedicated a bug thrower you really are? Those who already realize how far gone they are may wish to keep the results under lock and key...
1. When the subject of the annual family vacation comes up. Do you start getting hyper and mumbling about favorite rivers and streams where the family can have the time of their life watching you throw bugs eight hours a day?
2. When you sleep walk at night are you usually found standing on the roof naked with your rod in hand? (fly rod that is)
3. Have you been warned by your loving family this obsession and its annual cost have caused family fortunes to dwindle to the point your dog and cat have to eat the neighbors pet food instead?
4. When driving with family or other virgin civilians near rivers or streams. Does your brake pedal and steering wheel begin to act as if possessed?
5. Have you secretly sold family stocks, bonds, and securities in order to buy that super fine custom Bamboo Rod on sale for three thousand big ones?
6. Have you spent so much time memorizing fly pattern names in English, Latin, and French, you now only speak in strange tongues when spoken to?
7. Is every available space in your domicile used as storage for fly rods and gear? Has your loving wife gone into therapy because the family wardrobe now resides in the carport?
8. Do you spend so much time looking at fly fishing mags and brochures your getting phone calls from editors asking your advice?
9. If given a chance to trade straight across would you let your three-year-old go live with a nice Alaskan family in exchange for lifetime fishing rights?
10. Can you think of one reason you would not give up your job and family to become an international fly fishing guide and monthly web columnist? (not a bad life!)
TOP TEN FLY FISHER CHRISTMAS GIFTS
Before getting started down this slippery slope of unbridled family love and devotion. A word of caution to all wives, girlfriends and family members. Please do not waste time thinking about expense when shopping for your fly fisher of either gender. It is an unspoken rule in this esoteric sport, money is of no consequence when looking for gifts or destinations. So just sit back and take out those gold charge cards and let your generosity be your guide, remember her or him is worth it. One more thought to ponder, if your gifts are just what the doctor ordered. Your fly throwing loved one will be even more busy out in the woods. Think of all the extra free time that leaves you to plan fly fishing trips and birthdays, oh joy!
1. Contact your local travel agent and set up an unlimited international flight account in your loved ones name. If you really love that fly fisher, first class says "Honey I really- really love you and respect your beloved sport".
arrangements with an international chapter of "Under thirty fly fishing
companions". This dedicated group provides an essential service for bug tossers far
away from home. Blond Swedish grad students are given the task of helping traveling
3. If your fly fisher is in need of new equipment and your love for this person is vast and endless. One can only prey you have decided only the very best will do. Example, if he or she needs a new fly rod. I guess you could buy the two hundred-dollar special or why not go for that perfect little Bamboo six weight for only three thousand and change. If you care, dig deep and spend freely for the sake of your loved ones peace of mind.
4. The most popular gift this fly year is the two-week mental adjustment and acceptance course given by fly fishing monks in Outer Mongolia. This much needed seminar helps loved ones, wives, girlfriends etc. Learn how to go with the flow when it comes to your many trips and expenses. One of many classs concentrates on how to insist your fly fishing mate has not forgotten his single malt scotch or his phone number for the service mentioned in step # 2 above. If youre serious about creating a happy home life, take this course at once!
5. Has your fly fisher been suffering the ugly humiliation of going on fly trips in that junk wagon he calls a truck? Here is your chance to show extreme love and a desire to help make his life even more perfect then when he met you. Pick up the phone call your local four wheel drive dealership and tell the manager you want the top of the line fully loaded gonzo back road dragon slayer special. Please dont forget to have GPS installed, you know how he gets lost easily. Have the dealer bring the new truck to the house about an hour before he leaves on his latest trip. You will feel so much closer after making that call, go ahead pick up the phone.
6. Those of you faithful fly fisher loved ones thinking is a new truck really enough? Maybe youre right its not screaming loudly enough "I ADORE YOU" is it? No worries, he would be much happier with his own small jet and pilot on 24-hour call. Now were talking ladies and bless you for stepping up to the plate! Now he can swing by Sweden and pick up his dedicated grad student companion and still be stream side in time to uncork that scotch and thank the lord you came into his pathetic life.
7. One complaint I hear constantly is "I never have enough time to enjoy my sport" this is easily fixed with alittle love and sacrifice. Those working woman or men with fly fisher loved ones suffering from this common malady can now get relief. Simply find a midnight to sun up side job which will allow extra income to help with the cost of the private jet and traveling companions. Its easy to show your love and devotion if you are serious about keeping your bug thrower happy, try wont you, just try.
8. If the above list has not quite rung a bell for you, worry not loving mate. Do you now live on or near a prime fly fishing river or stream? If not, then simply call ten real estate agents and find that perfect cabin. Here is the fun part and the most fun for you and your family. Take all the extra money you made working the two or three extra jobs and after selling your current home. Surprise your sportsmen and move the family into that swell 4000 square foot streamside mansion and let the good times roll. You will feel so much better about your relationship and the feeling will continue to echo each time his Swedish streamside companion comes over to spend the weekend.
9. Now that you have displayed your devotion and love are you feeling like its still not quite enough? Ok, its time for serious fly fisher gift giving on a more grand personal level. An around the world six month hitting every river, stream the new jet can land near. Dont worry he will e-mail you whenever his streamside companion finishes his daily after fishing message and Zen centering ritual. Have you begun to imagine how wonderful your own life will be after making a few adjustments for your fly fisher?
10. One more little thing you might consider fly mate. Why not surprise your fly sports person by getting a full body tattoo of maps of his or her favorite rivers and streams?
FEATURED FLY FISHER
Within the thin ranks of extreme fly fishers of which I know of only a handful of truly dedicated. David Hamasaki life long fresh and salt-water expert is all by himself in this pantheon! David manages World Waters Outfitters in Sausalito California at a shop nestled on the edge of San Francisco Bay. His credentials include: commercial fly tying, teaching fly tying, teaching casting, and organizing international fly fishing trips to almost any where one can imagine. Davids average day consist of eyes opening and first checking the bay tides during the exciting Stripe Bass season. Then its off to his full service fly/outfitter store and into the company boat which sits out back of the store. Within 100 yards of the fly shop 12-50 pound Striped Bass await those salt-water fly fishers who know the ropes! Sounds idyllic you say, how does one arrive at such a perfect position in our sport? In Daves case it was almost written in stone from birth. His grandfather an English gentlemen insisted David ought to only embrace fly fishing and all its mysteries. His other grandfather was Hawaiian and was partial to bait fishing. This headstart gave Dave an eclectic overview of both worlds and till this day he dips into both wells. In the last fifteen years he has concentrated on fly fishing only in fresh water and will go either way in salt. Here in the San Francisco Bay area salt-water fly fishing for Striped Bass is still rather rare and exclusive. What a thrill to take 12-50 pound Stripers on flashy feathers and alot of patience. Dave prefers to use his Sage 490XP fly rod for fresh water and his Sage990- 3RPLXi for salt.
Among his favorite fishing spots are the Deschutes River float tubing from Trout Creek to Maupin when the fresh water bug bites. In salt its a toss up between Turneffe Flats in Belize or the East Cape in Baja California. The World Waters Outfitters complex in Sausalito is a full service outfit for both domestic and international fly fishers. Each week one class or another is featured in a warm open house atmosphere. I have known Dave for a few years and it always a pleasure for me to walk in his store and know he has the gear and the latest hot fish news! One thing about Dave is his honesty and willingness to always go the extra mile for customers and the curious who drop by. This sport can always use a man with his general and special fly fishing expertise. Here in Sausalito California we are lucky to have Dave and his store ready to help plan or outfit any fly fishing adventure fresh water or salt. World Waters Outfitters phone number is 800-577-7780 or 415-331-4034
Written by Dan Fallon, December 2000 ©
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