During the 1980s I was fortunate by virtue of blind luck to find myself given the Sacred Keys to Yosemite Park in California. One of the worlds most valuable natural treasures! I became a member of the Wilson family and in particular Mr. Ronald Wilson recently retired Park Technician. A man that has spent his life roaming and working in the most remote northern areas seldom seen by millions of Park visitors.
Ron is an avid outdoors men, hunter, fishermen, horsemen. With his help I roamed much of the Parks fly fishing waters many times. In that period the Park was alive with gushing waterfalls and no signs of drought like the current four year water Armageddon. Yosemite at its utopian splendor! I fished Lake Tanya, Merced River Headwaters and many little creeks and streams. One of my favorite easy to get to, yet highly productive fly waters rarely fished because it is close to the famed Arch Rock entrance.
The gateway to all the lakes and creeks. Thankfully ninety-nine percent Park visitors don’t know a Fly Rod from a Hot Rod... I learned quickly the large pools that exist near this Park entrance is home to large populations of both wild Rainbow and glistening hard fighting smaller Brook Trout?
Park rules forbid wading these prime waters so one must have 70-100 yard range throwing patterns such as mosquitoes and Grasshoppers. My usual all around set ups are Grasshopper or Mouse on top with whatever deep diving weighted nymphs handy from Prince Nymphs, beaded or naked. I usually have many pre-tied dropper sets ready to quickly replace lost patterns in the many bottom rocks and low hanging brush.
The dropper tippet four to five feet with small split shot about six to ten inches up. This set up covers all the bases. Grasshoppers like small Mice are universal year round patterns I have used for many years, especially in no hatch periods. Over decades of fly throwing all over the Park. Working this section near the tourist bus parking is always very productive and rarely fly fished favorite. My second never fail fly pattern is the humble universal Mosquito. I always have many tied in different sizes and a few blacker bigger Nuclear Mosquitos have provided stunning hits and great fights.
Over the many years visiting Yosemite from a fly fisher perspective. It comes down to twice a year either very late Fall October or November when crowds are history and the Park is in its most majestic Fall Robes. Or very early Spring can’t miss, fish all wild are eager to hit the right patterns. One memorable occasion I decided after watching endless rises that could only be reached by scaling a tall 25 foot tall boulder. A big boulder among many big rocks near waters edge with small cracks and possible hand holds that maybe could be climbed and used as perch to access huge 16-18 inch fat trout easily seen from above.
It was a bad idea ill conceived to say the least. But, as I was taken over by F.F.I. Fly Fisher Insanity it was too late for rational grown up behavior. It was near dark about one hour of day light left and I figured everyone was busy eating and relaxing and who would notice or care? Completely misguided logic that has guided my most memorable fly expeditions. After nearly slipping or out right falling.
I managed to ascend without giving a sane rational thought to the fact it was near dark. I would not be able to clearly see the many cracks and fissures used to get to the top. Quickly I opened the rod tube of my 4-Weight three piece Bamboo and within moments was slow drifting a Grasshopper that appeared to the Brookies like manna from another galaxy.
First cast bam a flashing bright gold jewelry glistening Brook trout smacked that Hopper and it was on! Up until this point no real thought was given to effective catch and release options. Much like the failure to consider lack of the Sun armed only with a small backpackers flashlight? Thankfully the little trout was not well hooked and escaped quickly. I missed the next two hits as they both came soon as the Hopper hit the water. Hits so fast it woke me up to what a gold mine I had found indeed.
As the last gasps of Fall Sun quickly brought a jet black sheet changed everything. At this juncture I hooked a big 16 inch wild Rainbow and chaos ensued... No thought of the darkness setting or how exactly to climb down 25 feet without emergency Rescue Techs being called. Noble brave men summoned to remove another idiot climbing where he ought not to be! Every cast either a hit or fish on all left the tiny barbless hooks quickly. Then just what I needed a huge audience pulled into the first large Park Parking lot. Three Bus loads full of Japanese tourists wearing the finest cameras money could buy.
Had to be at least 60-80 humans that quickly saw me struggling with a nice 12-15 inch Rainbow. Taking me round the big rock twice and then reversing and taking a sweet leap to the joy of my Asian peanut gallery! They began clapping and yelling as I was well into the fight. Suddenly the big Bow was gone and I then began a thirty minute struggle to find hand, foot holds. Flashlight in my mouth gear strapped to my back and really starting to get a little nervous as the last fifteen feet were seemingly impossible!
All the while clapping, ooing and ahhing as I finally fell the last eight feet or so into the ice cold Yosemite waters to loud cheers... Best laid plans of mice and men indeed!
WOLF MOUSE 2015
Hook: Wide gaped big or small as needed in your area 1/0 - 3/0
Thread: Black silk
Tail: Thin cut leather from scrap leather long enough for good wake when worked
Body: Wolf body hair*
Head: Black marker or nothing at all as leather ears conceal head and eyes
Ears: Cut leather scrap. Ears greatly enhance underwater profile as fish look up
*Wolf hair taken in deep northern Yosemite Park from fresh Wolf scat. Cleaned and groomed for true high flotation and ability to equip the mouse with a Nymph Dropper set up. This mouse easy to tie quickly in the field if needed! Simple pattern to master and very effective anywhere any time. During the 1980s I guided many new and old fly fishers along the mighty Merced River and into the Park. Wonderful memories especially in the fall...
WOLF HOSTING WEEK IN REMOTE ALASKA 2016
In response to many fans over the years and with the blessing of David Wilson owner of Lake Marie Alaska www.lakemarie.com. I will be hosting one week at the remote Lake Marie Lodge in 2016. This legendary remote Alaska fly fishing venue has it all for serious fly fishers. I have been fortunate to make many visits and have written several stories that can be read on the website.
All your fly fisher needs are met with Guides that are seasoned and more wild fish then most sportsmen can imagine! Those interested can contact David Wilson on the web sight. Exact dates will be announced in future columns in 2016. Look forward to seeing many old friends ready to have serious fly fun. Lodge recently revamped with only 9-12 anglers per week.
Written by Dan Fallon © 2015