|Column nr. 9 2005|
by turns the bitter change of fierce extreams,
In my fly fisher life as must be the case in many sportsmen's existence memories of sublime moments spent among summer's last gasp flood the mind with the advent of Fall...
Yosemite National Park and its mighty Merced River winding through rusty colored canyon walls, leaves floating on slower currents as resident rainbows rise to well tied mosquitos... Lake Tenaya and the endless smaller lakes now quiet and waiting for winters frozen breath. The park becomes a silent cathedral of damp smells and crystal clear waters alive with still hungry trout as the waterfall's begin slowing down and millions of visitors hurry home with memories of bear cubs and flashing eagle wings...
Two Yosemite Fall moments are benchmarks in regard to it's magic. One early morning wading the Merced River near El Portel I heard flapping wings and quickly glanced behind me as an immature Osprey gliding no more then four feet off the water gently flew over my head and back he glided closer to the easy flowing water looking for breakfast. On another occasion again wading the Merced closer to the Arch Rock entrance, deciding to break for lunch I moved near the rivers edge and was met with the loud rattle of a very healthy rattle snake curled up on a boulder that was my only path out of the water. We played a game of this land is my land for several minutes until I decided to find another path to that thermos of hot tea.
In the late 1960's I had the honor of pretending to be a cowboy on the fabled Texas King Ranch in a town called Electra that was named after one of the mythic cattle ranches owners daughters. My job was to help the young kids bottle feed baby cows and generally stay out of the way. One morning a kindly aging ranch hand took me to a bass pond and for three hours or so we stood watching small red and white bobbers dance around when hungry bass hit our worms. On the way back to the main house my new friend asked if I might like to ride a rip snorting real cowboy horse? Blackie had other ideas and quickly threw the San Francisco kid into the bass pond. I still recall the falling leaves sticking to my wet clothes as a group of passing wranglers yelled out at me, "What ranch was that you said you worked for Dude?"
In The late 1970's while staying at a friends cabin not far from the town of Hamburg in upstate New York. I was alone as usual on a small stream packed with Brook Trout none larger then ten inches. A fine hatch was going off and I was in hog heaven having gently hooked and released two nice brookies. While my mind was busy thinking how lucky I was and my hands shaking with excitement! I dropped the only fly box I had with me that day and watched it disappear underneath a boulder that I could not get to... I sat on the stream edge and watched bright colored leaves flashing with the neon flesh of the resident brookies rising and diving.
Early Fall 2001 remote Alaskan homestead Lake Marie owned and operated by pioneer Alaskans the Wilson brother's David and Johnny. My goal to catch and release King Salmon in the 30/50 pound range with a 5/6 weight Winston Bamboo Fly rod supplied by Glenn Brackett premier Bamboo rod master. After spending two days hooking and losing seven kings that ran 25/45 pounds in the company of well traveled spey rod armed fly fishers who watched my insane quest like Oprah at a cheeseburger festival. The piscatorial gods smiled as a nice 34 pound king was slowly guided to shore after a 35 minute fight and at the last second broke off into the waiting net of master guide John Wilson! I remember winters first cold rush as we made our way back to the lodge and tried for weeks to wipe the smile off my face. The unofficial world record I believe still stands and Glenn Brakett of Winston Bamboo still makes em tough as cold steel baby!
My first experience watching fly line unwind was as a seven year old in the early 1950's while accompanying my uncle Clyde on a family outing on the shores of the American River not far from Lake Tahoe. My uncle was accomplished and one of my first teachers, he was always including me and bless him helped me understand and respect the outdoors life. I was sitting in the warm sand watching his every move, when a Garter Snake quickly crawled across my young legs and I set a new land speed record as my laughing uncle who had been a distance runner failed to catch his nephew after a spirited 100 yard dash....
My time with the legendary Bamboo Rod maker Walton Powell on the Fall river was and still is a golden memory. Thanks to the Miller brothers out of Shingle town California I met Walt and spent several days on two occasions working the gin clear Fall. On the first trip with Page Miller we spent many hours gliding up and down the river without even a hint of trout. I was getting anxious as the trip was to become a feature article and looked as if no trout photos or action of any kind was in the cards. Walt's stories about his old friend Bing Crosby and his time with Jimmy and Rosalind Carter were the best! But, no fish, no feature kept running through my simple mind. Then just as I was thinking oh well the man is in his mid eighties and so on, slam Walt had a nice 16 inch rainbow hooked and quickly to the net. When we pulled into the dock, I still remember Walt standing next to his gear with rusty colored Fall leaves blowing all around and a big smile on his face... I cherish my time with the Lord Of The Flies.
"ADVENTURES OF FLETCHER QUILL"
"And let him have dominion over the sea!"
As the early Fall San Francisco full Moon slowly slides into the ice blue Pacific Ocean Slick Brainies new matt black super stealth chopper moves over the Embarcadero near Fishermen's Wharf. The now reunited friends are being serenaded by a heavenly rock/swing choir led by the ghosts of Sinatra, Elvis and John Lee Hooker laying down "Tambourine Man" and a medley of old Chicago blues ala Bobby Blue Bland. Slicks new bird is equipped with latest under water radar / sonar / genetic decoding / species identity digital electronics that will enable the air borne fly fishers to locate a pod of King Salmon thought to include several 50/80 pound giants!
Just as the crew locates a school of kings under the Golden Gate Bridge Quill's cell phone goes off.
"Fletcher, Keith Richards here, just called to say thanks for kick in the ass! Mick and I took the little peoples advice and went all the way back to Exile On Main street and captured some of that lightening in the bottle. The new album "Bigger Bang " and our single" Rough Justice hit number one this morning. Now, don't forget your on stage with us for the Frisco November show."
"Keith, out standing dude, heard the new single, it rocks, gotta go bud, we just got into a nice gang of Kings, back to ya later my friend."
Slicks high tech screen glows as forty three King Salmon appear at a depth of twenty- five feet near the south tower of the GG. Jason Aki catches a visual of a king that might go over 60 pounds cruising at about 6 knots.
"Mr. Vice President, did you see that monster at the back of the pack?"
"Jason, its Slick Dude, and how about you taking on this big boy?"
Slicks chopper hovers about 15 feet above fairly calm waves as Jason unwinds line and drops his own killer red marabou streamer 10 feet in front of the behemoth king.
"Easy, now hold it, easy, bam he's on.
Jason's 5 weight Quill Bamboo Traveler rod bends in half and within 6 seconds he is into the backing and the fight is on.
"Jason, let him run dude! Man, that king is heading back to Alaska post haste invisible surfer!"
hovering at a steady 10 feet is now heading out toward the Farallone Islands
about 30 nautical miles straight out from Geary Street near Quills old haunt
the Cliff house.
"Jason, what a sight dude, that beast was not ready for being messed with."
Another cell call comes in for Quill as Slick begins another search under the Golden Gate.
"Sharon, real bad time your blondness. Kinda up to my booty in fly fishy world."
"Listen carefully fly boy, about that blond book of your's sport. Did you imagine I would allow you to write crap like this on my watch?"
"There you go sweet cakes, way too much Oprah can lead to this kind of female reactivity. Got more important biz for you to tend to. Call Martha Steward and tell her she better stop bitching about that ankle bracelet and behave herself. Oh Yeah, call my old middle school Alta Loma in South City and tell them I can't make the 45 year reunion,One more thing...."
"Stop right there cowboy, your always thinking about other babes and handing out free advice. Like I keep saying, what have you done for me lately?"
"Sorry Sharon your breaking up gotta fly."
Jive Boy has just hooked up and its not clear what size king has taken his black and red shrimp fly when the chopper suddenly drops sharply and the fight is on.
"Dude's this bad boy is dragging the black bird like a kite!"
Now crowds of early morning commuters are gathering and watching the prodigal son and the Escape From New York crew being towed all over San Francisco Bay by the monster king. Universal Sniper and Quills life long Marine Corps pal Duke ( 1500 yard ) Parker appears slightly impressed with the mornings action.
"Fletcher, this fly fishing thing is supposed to be a nice quit solo kinda gig ain't it dude?"
"Yeah, if you're an old fart grey haired and packing a belly maybe. Remember when we got caught throwing flies and sneaking off base during the Kason siege."
"Man, you crazy fool Marine, I let you talk me into that one and it cost me two stripes and my R&R week in Singapore dude!"
Now Jive's great grandfather king is heading straight for Fishermens Wharf at warp speed...
Suddenly the Chief resplendent in his Presidential fly outfit designed by Stella Mcartney grabs Jason's fly rod...
"This fight calls for a regime change young man- while I'm taking this old guy to school get Terry Kennedy on the conference line, I got another buffo left out coast idea dudes!"
As the huge King Salmon drags the chopper almost into aquatic park near the chocolate factory Terry Kennedy's voice booms into the stealth bird..
"Mr. President, so nice to hear from you, must be kismit as I also have the Dali Lama on line wants to chat about another regime change for Tibet?"
"Terry. Put him on conference with us dude."
"Dali Baby, you gotta call my new main man Tommy who runs the Haunted Haight Tour, it's a gas my main mangod dude! Dial (415)-863-1416, tell him you talked to the Cowboy."
"Sir, I do have hopes you will spread your western largess to my imprisoned people?"
"Quill has been telling me about your 1970s visit to Allan Watts houseboat in Sausalito and your joint puffing with my new secratery Fletcher Quill, is that correct sir?"
The matt black chopper is now heading for Ocean Beach with the behemoth King Salmon not running out of gas....
"That was long ago when we were all young and dumb. Today my party is meeting with Shelly Simon at Ruby's mud studio in the Castro, love to have you join me sir?"
"One quick question your celestielness, does Tibet have any oil under those holy mountains?"
(Saffron robes for the Cowboy? Dali baby who's your Daddy?)
Read about Fletcher Quill in earlier chapters:
Written by Dan
Fallon © 2005
For Dan Fallon's earlier
and later columns; visit the table of contents