Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.9  2003  



  Mother Nature and her grand scheme have begun to allow Fall River California to cope with man’s lack of foresight as fish, birds, insects, adjust their habits. In the weeks following a serious levee break that caused this wild trout sanctuary to drop over 30 inches and flood valuable pasture. Local construction companies are working round the clock to move truckloads of dirt and rebuild the road that will allow the levee to be slowly reconstructed. Those most adversely effected are the local guides, fly fishers, farmers, cattlemen, fly shops and the Fall River general commerce that has depended on the seasonal fly fisher traffic.

© Dan Fallon

My observations in respect to the many obvious changes here consist of closely monitoring local bird, insect, fish, mammal behavior. In the first several weeks after the levee break, birds and insects appear to have rapidly altered old flight and survival routines. Fall River consists of 17 miles of meandering waters, insects and birds especially those creatures who before the break lived and fed themselves on acreage now under water. Suddenly like displaced human flood victims have had to seek new habitat. It has been educational to watch the natural cycle begin to adjust and heal itself. The section near the break has been closed to boats and the public. Those residents who live on the river have been allowed to continue fly fishing if they are not hampering the levee rebuild effort. In regard to trout, turtles, otters, beavers that may have been either displaced or killed during the break, not much data exists that I have seen or heard.


The blame game atmosphere here is still going on as the ball gets tossed back and forth between local officials, state fish and game agencies and so called watch dog environmentalists. As of the publishing of this column a general buck passing climate prevails with this overview. A weed that has slowly begun to overtake the river has become almost impossible to control due to extreme hot weather. This condition has allowed the river to become swollen and its depth and volume caused the levee break. Fall Rivers local newspaper "The Echo" has been on top of reporting the progress of the different agencies involved. It appears the weed problem has been around for several years. Local residents, farmers have as one would expect in a small community closed ranks to help each other. Caltrout honcho Gary Seput related to me at the time of my single fly event late June "We (Caltrout) haven’t really done too much in regard to the Fall River of late. In the past we were instrumental in getting farmers, cattlemen to erect fences, take down barriers and get the ball rolling."

© Dan Fallon

Local long time residents have taken the break in stride as the hot weather subsides. The culprit river weed has been dying in the colder air and now dead weed beds are being cleaned out of many areas. One aspect of this little publicized environmental tragedy that has troubled me is the lack of any careful attention by other California sports journalists? Of course I may be wrong in this assumption, yet so far no major news outfit appears to have spent any time here covering the recovery? Each day helicopters fly back and forth around the break area watching for new problems as dump trucks roll 24/7 to rebuild the road. In my mind this rivers spirit will withstand the lack of prudent planning that allowed this break in the first place.

The real questions here are simple, the demon weed was here for sometime without any action taken by any authority I know of period? Local fly fishers I have spoken to and other naturalists agree it was a problem for at least the last five years or longer. Where is the scientific data supporting the "Weed Theory? How many agencies have been tossing the Take Action Ball" back and forth? What exactly are the new and improved scenarios for preventing this from happening again? Will this wonderful wild trout habitat emerge stronger or weaker than before the break? Questions asked here everyday and yet to be completely answered....

© Dan Fallon
Fall River rainbow


In the months spent on this near ideal wild trout habitat I have watched crop dusters cover fields with various sprays very close to the river. Local farmer ranchers pump water freely from this river and then after flooding Alfalfa fields allow that same pesticide polluted water to run right back into the river. I have witnessed this insanity countless times along the five miles I have electric motored almost everyday. This sad fact of life along with the recent levee break will certainly impact all creatures who live and die here. Why are the resident farmers allowed to keep this vicious polluting cycle going? Where are the high profile public agencies? Will this assault ever be contained, monitored, studied? Will this rivers already strained spirit prevail, maybe, maybe not. Those interested in what may be the state of our nations remaining wild trout rivers and streams might be well served to pay careful attention to what happens here in the aftermath of what appears to be societal negligence in the extreme. Californians may be surprised and disappointed their precious drinking water is already home to many agricultural pesticides long before it reaches their five year olds innocent mouth. If this same polluted water is good enough for wild trout and all the other wildlife that live here, it must be good enough for your kids to drink.


© Phil Frank 2002

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

    Mornings at Ravens Heaven are usually peaceful and quiet with either soft jazz or ambient sounds spilling into the spaces favored by Timba and Fletcher. This morning as the Irish Sea crashes on the rocks that support this ancient castle, two international models fresh from Paris and a sold out Dior show prepare for their first fly fishing lesson. Misty the blond goddess sorts out her fly lesson apparel as Sabine, Keith Richards sometime gal pal waits patiently sitting on one of the countless comfy window seats ."Any time darling, we are late of course and I can just see Quilly getting into a bit of a snit!" "He will just have to get used to it sweety, I cannot simply throw something on to please his inflexible time table." Mean time Quill and Timba have been waiting now more than an hour for the girls to show "Timba I knew this would happen to us old friend, woman and waiting, its like California politics and common sense, mutually exclusive. Finally after another twenty minutes here come the models dressed in their fly garb. Misty has a string bikini thong thing with a bright yellow silk scarf covering the vital areas. Sabine is more somber wearing an African safari outfit complete with Pitt helmet and mosquito face net. "Ladies nice to see you before the Sun sets, lets get started shall we. On the table in front of you are two disassembled fly rods, two fly reels and the related gear needed to introduce you to my beloved sport. Now then first lets pick up your fly rod and I will explain its form and function". Fletcher is interrupted by Mistys raised hand "Quilly, my fly rod is not as long as Misty’s and its simply not fair!" "Oh my god, Sabine are you crazy? Who cares who has the longest fly rod you silly twit, here you take mine". "No, I want my own long rod girlfriend, don’t you dare patronize me you bleached blond bimbet!" " "ladies please, its ok, we are only just getting started and the length really has no bearing on any thing." Fletcher takes a deep breath while Timba does a series of slow rolls across the castle patio. "Oh sure all you older boys say that don’t you Quilly?" "Shall we get back on track, please assemble your fly rod sections as you see my rod coming together. Always align the eyes so they are lined up perfectly for the line to pass easily during casting". Timba rolls his eyes in bored disinterest.

Before Quill can utter another word "Mr. Fletcher, If I may be allowed to ask a silly question?" "Of course Sabine, this early in your fly education no question is silly." "Do these fly rod things come in designer colors, if they do, I want a bright yellow one." "Ladies, it may be a tad early to start thinking fashion. Now that we have assembled our rods, pick up your reel." "Look, they are exactly the same size and color Misty." "If you dare start up with me young lady, I will take that Archaic Dribbling Stoner boy friend of yours right away from you prissy!" "Ah, excuse me girls, if I might have your attention long enough to get these rods assembled. I will stop for a short break and you two can beat the living s - out of each other before we move on." Timba has had enough and heads for his favorite window seat as Fletcher realizes he is way over his head with these two spoiled brats. A staff butler approaches with the Red Phone.

"Excuse me Mr. Quill it’s the Cowboy sir" "Fletcher, have you got a fly rod in those models pretty little mitts yet son?" "Mr. President, it always amazes me the kind of free time you seem to have to make these calls." "Yeah, this job has more free time then anyone would believe. Reason I buzzed you is to update you on the proposed Irish Fly Fishing Peace Summit. We have firmed up the dates and the principle players." "Very exciting sir, question, will I be getting my diplomatic passport any time soon?" "Better than that Quill, I have authorized you to carry both a Top Secret clearance and a diplomatic courier passport that will never leave you waiting for some under paid Democrat third worlder to mess up your suitcase" "Excellent, thank you sir". "Fletcher what on earth is that awful racket?" Quill turns around to see Misty and Sabine engaged in a very serious sword fight armed with Quills fly rods. Sabine has Misty at bay hanging over the castle balcony screaming the latest street profanity of which the castle walls have never heard. "Mr. President, the models are going bonkers, got to run sir."

"Ladies, ladies please try and control yourselves we do not tolerate this kind of madness at Ravens Heaven!" "Jive Boy said you were patient Quilly Willy, well are you really?" "Sabine, let Misty get back on her feet before all the blood runs into her blond brain"

"Mr. Fletcher Quill, sir I protest, this blond Madonna Wanna has my under things in a twist with her me, me attitude!" "Ladies, this has got to stop or your both back on the Irish Sea that left you. This fly lesson is suspended and I want you both to reflect on what happened here this morning, Timba and I will be waiting in the fly tying tower when your ready to begin again."


Timba and Fletcher quickly forget the model feud and begin tying multiple # 20 Hares Ear Nymphs with the few strands of blond hair recently acquired from the estate of Marilyn Monroe. Quill paid three thousand for roughly fifty long obviously much died bomb shell hairs. It is imperative that all authenticating evidence, paperwork reflect the pedigree of these unique flies tied with material many famous fly tiers would kill for. Not long ago the famed American fly tying master A. K. Best called and wanted to trade his stash of Clark Gable hair for an equal amount of his ex co-star’s dyed tress’s. Of course Quill declined and a possible rift may come of that turn down as A.K. is known to always get what he wants! This batch of Hare’s Ear’s will fetch twenty five hundred each with jewel box case and all paperwork, not bad for a morning labor of love. One of the phone lights begin to blink just has Quill and Timba sink into a window seat to ponder the morning. "Fletcher Quill, my name is Clare, does that ring a bell?" "Sweetheart, thinking of you all morning, when can you drop by?" "Those dropping by days may be short lived. This relationship sucks and I’m tired of being your door mat Mr! What exactly have you and the models been up to?" "Just out of the hot tub and dead tired after a great morning with Sabine & Misty" "Yeah sure, so what’s the deal Hefner?" "They are driving me and Timba nuts with their petty nonsense." As if by divine intervention all hell breaks loose as staff arrive with their hands in the air. "Sir, the models have become a bit of a problem as both of them are now taking turns dropping one by one a shipment of rare flies they found at the front door over the balcony into the sea." "Oh my God, alert everyone to start packing their things and lets get them on the next launch today".

Staff quickly begin assembling suitcases and alert the models they have been banned from Ravens Heaven and will be leaving within the hour. Misty is livid and Sabine is screaming at her as they quickly change into their leaving garb. "Well, sweety, look what your little fits have done to this great trip." "I don’t really care, this guy is so eccentric not even your aging rocker boy friend will be able to hang here." "I forgot about Keith coming, he is on his way and we are on our way, oh well, ships passing in the night all right." "Ladies, it pains me to do this, but you leave me no choice. Those feathers you casually dropped into the sea were worth a small fortune to me. You both have wasted my time and disrupted the Zen peace that has cloaked this castle for generations. The boat will be here momentarily and I prey you both find your own peace in whatever you do. I will honor my invitation to Keith as he is due in this evening, may the gods smile on both of you."

Fletcher assembles staff and orders the mega watt Music Suit readied for the unknighted "Glimmer Twin" Instructions are interrupted as the master of Ravens Heaven is handed a dispatch that reads. "Hope my arrival is not too complicating Mr. Quill, have arranged to hitch a ride to your wonderful castle and will see you late this evening, Sharon." Timba and Fletcher look at each other and both shake their heads, as Quill thinks out loud."What have I done with this over blown hospitality? Keith Richards and Sharon Stone together here after the madness of the spoiled models. Will we ever get back to peace and quiet Timba?" Timba has his silver shiny ball in his mouth and drops it at his masters feet. They begin playing and soon transcend the momentary nonsense of the day and enjoy each other as they have for many years. Fletcher holds Timba and begins brushing his perfect coat while musing to himself...


Stay tuned for Ultra Blond meets Bad Boy!


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
Fletcher Quill, part 15


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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