Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 4 2015
Ropes and High Hopes
Fly fishers behind the wheel driving along side streams, rivers, creeks where rising trout can be seen, lane drifting instead of watching the road is insane behavior at best! While driving right next to the Carson, Trinity, Feather, either fork of the mighty American River or any number of great California fly waters.
I have somehow avoided fatal head-on collisions by the grace of the Lord of Lords.... It would not matter if a Brinks Truck back door flew open spilling millions or naked 25 year old topless woman dancing like Mily Cyrus suddenly appeared!
My ancient eyes are glued to the water looking for rising trout or big hatches or great slow pools begging for the 4-Weight Bamboo to get uncorked and strung up. This psycho fly fisher behavior has cost girl friends and precipitated endless honking horns and every imaginable gesture featuring the middle finger! Socrates was thought to remark, "Reason Egrets exist is because they are relentless - never taking their eyes off moving fish."
This fly tale is about one morning while meandering next to the fabled Feather River. I passed above a pool totally unaccessible by any means other then maybe expert Copter pilot. A pool drooled over by any and all Fly Fishers because rising trout are everywhere while you drive helplessly above.
Perhaps the same angst cats have watching fast mice disappear into thin air! It is about 80 or so feet straight down and no trail no roads, nothing can get you on this water from the road. Boulders protect each end of this wonderful trout hide out and for many years I stopped and stared and then drove away. Until one morning when complete P.F.F. Psycho Fly Fisher insanity took over all the controls...
Instead of feeling helpless watching large wild trout rise and swirl untouchable I stopped at a hardware store and bought the following. 120 feet of thick nylon rope that could easily pull the Queen Mary.
Work gloves that could withstand anything from welding Alaska Pipelines to eliminating any rope burns on sensitive Irish hands. Last rock wall repelling was sort of accomplished during USMC days circa 1965-1970s. I deducted a little rust might exist!
But, please its only about 80 feet to a wide ledge I assumed would permit safe walking to the pool? Had to consider where and how far away to park car, pack a small back pack with just enough fly gear and tie down my trusty three piece Bamboo in its rod tube. Light gear easy to carry secured carefully.
Car parking meant a mile walk and then find a tree stout enough and close enough to anchor the nylon rope. Throw it over the side after tying many climbing knots just in case chaos reared its head... In my psycho Brain it appeared I was good to go.
Before going any further into this fly folly it must be stated my history of off the wall ridiculousness in the fly fishing arena is well documented. Climbing tall tree’s in Yosemite Park to drop dry flies in the mouths of willing wild trout. Wading in rushing waters deep in remote Alaska and nearly drowning several times.
Crawling on top of huge rocks mid stream on many rivers only to find it impossible to catch and release from twenty feet up on these boulders. List goes on and all the way back to late childhood while in Vietnam as young Marine 1965 working many rivers, streams with North Vietnamese too close by for comfort. P.F.F. insanity a genetic missing link that really should have killed this old man long ago continues...
Let the madness begin!
Quickly found an old tree and wrapped the nylon rope several times finished off with triple hitch cinch lock knots Grand Father schooled me on and threw the rest over the side. Suddenly up rolls a California Highway Patrol car with a smiling young trooper who got out big grin on his face and said, "I’m not even going to ask a man your age what he is up to this morning..," "Oh good morning, Bird watcher, Oil Painter looking for unique scenes to capture," "Ok, sounds legit. Of course that rope I saw you throw over the side and that fly rod tube tied on your pack must be paint brushes and safety rope for your photo taking right?" "Yes Sir exactly one can’t be too safe in this Art game," "My instinct tells me you will be finished and gone in two hours after I have lunch and come by this way again," "That is my intention Sir." "Please don’t call me Sir as your old enough to be my Grand Dad. Have a successful morning and by the way your United States Marine Corp License Plate was effective this morning..."
Before taking the last step and going over the side I carefully followed the ropes path from tree winding down the wall. Looking for any areas that might cut into the nylon rope as my 220 pounds slipped down quickly as possible? Not wanting to draw any more attention on the main road it was go time.
Thankfully tied double large grip knots every ten feet or so because after sliding down around 25 feet the ledge I was shooting for appeared to no longer exist because its edge was closer to the wall under my descent route. Meaning I would have to swing my ancient ass back and forth before letting go! It was no big deal I imagined and slipped down another 35 feet or so and saw the ledge was only about three feet closer to the wall and felt relief.
Swinging gently back and forth three times let go and easily dropped onto the ledge. It was maybe another 25 feet or so to the tiny beach surrounding the large pool. I won’t divulge the exact location of this crazy fly adventure. Every local fly fisher can easily guess!
No hatch was in play as it was now late morning which meant my standard pre-tied leader tippet with Grasshopper on top and my own pattern nymph on about four feet of leader with a small split shot ten inches above the nymph.
Took about five minutes to string up 4-weight Bamboo and stay between three large trees hopefully invisible to the local traffic who would surely report this act of fly insanity. After four easy twenty foot cross up stream throws a nice one pound Rainbow hit and quickly released.
Considering the firm kind warning to be gone in two hours. I caught two more trout and began what turned out to be a hour and a half walk down river. Over rocks and fallen trees until a safe route was found to hike up to the highway. A well fed Rattle Snake was lying on a rock never moved as I walked ten feet from it!
No wonder I never saw fly fishers on this pool. Father Time made it clear this behavior might not be replicated too many more times! The fly Lords smiled when a beat up local pick up truck pulled over and the bearded driver grinning ear to ear said," You did not climb down or walk up to that pool full of Rainbows did you Pilgrim?", "Maybe, maybe not. If I catch a lift back to my car about mile up the road?
I could be talked into spilling the beans Cowboy!" "I then pulled my Nikon Digital camera out of the pack and we laughed long and hard. Over lunch several fly fisher looking characters joined us as a new myth was being formed over Eggs and Bacon. It was good to be kicking up dust and getting help winding in that nylon rope. It was even better knowing next time I drove over that pool a big smile would be impossible stop.
Written by Dan Fallon © 2015