Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 3 2015
Napoleon On the Fly
Napoleon Bonaparte somehow found a few precious hours for much needed fly rod time before his last decisive battle began...
My great great ancestors roamed Ireland, England and most of uninhabited in the early17- 1800s. My Great Grandfather William O’Fallon and his brothers were famed avid anglers who spent much time working the many isolated streams, creeks in old Belgium.
My Great Uncle Willy James O’Fallon as fate would have it found himself in the same Belgium area near Waterloo when both French troops led by Napoleon 72,000 and British hard core troopers 68,000 were digging in.
Seemingly waiting for torrential rains to cease before extended close in battle began. O’Fallon had heard about the Belgium Trout and was armed with his signature one piece Bamboo fly rod and a wide assortment of local patterns including his own Streamers and Nymphs. He was camping out on a secluded tree lined bow in a creek full of speckled marked Belgium Trout rising to his giant Mosquito pattern.
When three French officers rode up and began watching him throw tiny bugs some fifty feet easily in long slow wide loops barely wrinkling the water perfect presentation of a universal fly... One of the French spoke up, "Excuse me, Sir our camp is very close by may we invite you and that large creel of wonderful fat trout which our cook would kill for to supper with us this evening".
O’Fallon fortunately had an empty social calendar this particular evening!, "Your famous General Bonaparte has an appetite for wild trout I take It?"
O’Fallon had just completed a tour of several prime Belgium Trout waters including the Hoyoux River, and the beautiful La Molignee River, His favorite Bocq River and a few chalk streams near lakes.
"These big boys were all caught early this morn on my killer flies Boys! Supper with a real French Chef was in my hope chest. Lead the way.
It took two hours to reach the French camp as the British soldiers led by none other then the cock of the British walk Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington were awfully busy amassing troops everywhere they moved! Willy O’Fallon carefully cleaned all ten two pound Belgium speckled trout and packed them in deep wet cool grass. Twice the British Long bow Experts shot arrows some 50 yards which fell harmlessly.
Napoleons’s large camp and troops did appear angst ridden and nervous surveying my Bamboo fly rod carrying Great Uncles rapscallion high and low plains drifter demeanor. As if he were a local character sent for entertainment! He proved to be worthy of the challenge especially for free dinner with General Bonaparte and his officers...
Willy was shown to his very temporary tent quarters to wash up and waited for the arrival of the doomed General wearing his customary dark silk and leather battle robes with bright blue accents. Looking much like the young General an equally strutting rooster who also lost his ass and life in America’s future old West Battle of the Bighorn yet to be fought.
Willy had been following recent rumors of tough defeats French soldiers dying in huge numbers at Lipzig and the Peninsular War. Napoleon made his retreat to Paris before undertaking another serious folly against the Prussians and British well schooled and eager to mix it up!
"Excuse me Sir the General would like to speak with you before supper".
In strolls Napoleon who gently grabs the five and half foot Bamboo fly rod leaning against the tent, "You spend your time playing with these toys Mr. O’Fallon?" "No Sir, with all due respect I catch these wild underwater creatures so my nitely suppers continue to be quite sublime!" Napoleon laughed and sat down while aids delivered his favorite beverage.
"It appears you Sir are riding on a bit of losing streak?" "It is my destiny Willy to continue pursuing my fate as it were. Unfortunately I was not blessed with your life mission chasing wild trout like a migrant farm worker." "Takes a little more savvy then you might imagine wielding this here Bamboo like you and your sword Sir! After supper I’ll be headed out to that tiny creek running near where your War Horse’s are tethered, you are welcome to join me?" "Might be fine diversion until the rain stops. After dinner then Willy O’Fallon. By the way you any good with swords young man?" "No Sir, just Bamboo and Bamboo only."
Dinner came and went quickly as Troops were busy preparing for Battle. Willy slowly devoured his one pound Belgium speckled trout gently fried in almond liquor and real Butter, stuffed with wild Belgium mushrooms washed down with mediocre French champaign.
Six of the Generals closest aids all on horseback accompanied Napoleon and Willy as they ambled down into a valley nearby where a gentle chalk stream wound its way near cattle grazing unaware the horror of war would soon explode their tranquility.
Willy quickly threw his tried and true Black Leech streamer and quickly hooked up to a nice trout. He then handed the Bamboo to the smiling General and let him play it with some effort almost sliding down into the water during a five minute fight...
"That was astonishing, he fought nobly and almost got away! Willy lets take a few more for breakfast Irish itinerant." "Sir, you may loose another generation of French young men waiting out this rain don’t you imagine? I ain’t no soldier, but if I was those fancy dressed Brits I would come and get you right now!" "Willy do you actually imagine my British, Prussian counterparts want to get their delicate feet wet?
They both laughed and again Willy hooked up again and handed the Bamboo to the overly optimistic General. "May Irish luck be with you and your men Sir..."
Napoleon quickly lost a large trout.
Written by Dan Fallon © 2015
This great old fly tale my family has enjoyed for generations. Is it absolutely true? Quite possibly according to my grand father who lived to over 100. Did my best to replicate his tale of my long lost uncle. - Dan