Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 1 2014
North America Fly Fishing Reality
"And see the children sport upon the shore. And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."
William Wordsworth 1770-1850
If long gone Willy Wordsworth had ridden shotgun on a recent pre-opening day tour of Northern California’s famed Trout/Salmon waters... tears would fall...
Only one missing piece has changed the plans and dreams for those who carry fly rods! Lack of water. According to those who study historical north American water history speculate this current water crisis may be cyclical occurring roughly every 900 years or so! This dry period of the last few years crept up on all of us hard core fly fishers until this year when California water ran out.
Coastal rivers and streams closed, waters migrating salmon use closed, closed! Fly fisher’s from Alaska down into San Diego report the same hard reality. Alaska is warmer now then its been in human memory, Arctic glaciers melting faster then anyone could predict have caused flooding and hastened changes in the natural order from fish migration to rules for sportsmen.
Alaskan King Salmon season impacted and controlled as are the other fish stocks. In my fly life Alaska changes have been the most disturbing, warmer weather and historic fish counts down in the last 30 years.
All of the major California water sanctuaries are low below 40%, many farmers have been told no water allotments this year impacting both our food source and migrating waterfowl numbers. In my fly life this drastic decline in water is unprecedented. Sadly many blame this on either too many people sucking up precious resource or Biblical Devine Intervention! Could be all the above.
It is sobering to actually see the history of North American Water in the growth rings of ancient tree’s. Clearly mankind has endured many dry periods in the last thousands of years. Now contemporary Fly Fisher sportsmen face the ugly truth, our sport the Canary in the coal mine saw this monster looming unstoppable. Sad to drive by streams and creeks bone dry, sadder to see the old high water marks on canyon walls.
What Can Be Done?
Those concerned have taken action in two significant actions applauded in local Press. Migrating Salmon stocks are being trucked past areas too shallow to navigate such as fish ladders and dam’s, outstanding hard work indeed. This time consuming relentless work is being done up and down California.
Water managers and farmers are building new water towers and busy digging new retention lakes to store attempt beating the odds with strict new restrictions for allowing thousands of acres to go fallow until this situation changes. Many counties and cities issued restrictions as lack of water becomes critical. All sportsmen are affected from water fowlers to little kids trying to catch the first trout. For me life long flyman whose eyes have stared at running water almost 70 years around the world. Sight of dry favorite rivers, streams, creeks sobering.
Wolf Water Crystal Ball?
No Brainer sportsfans of my friends in climatology are they anywhere near the truth?
We in California could be in for ten years or longer of radical water loss. If the gang screaming, “ Global warming! The sky is Falling Chicken little! “ are on target? Perhaps only the uber wealthy will be carrying fly rods to either far off aqua blessed lands or local private property owners cashing in on desperate fly fishers needing a fix!
Sport could get rare and expensive fast. Then again if regular seasonal rain begins to fall again we will quickly forget dry rivers and dry lines. My friends in Ireland have been getting too much water of late? Perhaps they could grossly improve their financial picture by selling us the new Gold, water!
Great civilizations have come and vanished over lack of water. Humans may have started on this little Blue Marble because of collisions with space rocks full of water? Water, water, the new Gold... fellow Fly Fishers: say a prayer.
By Dan Fallon 2014 ©