Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 5 2016
Perfect Fall Morning
In deep Alaska, rural Vermont circa 1970s, upstate New York or far northern Yosemite I have had perfect mornings armed with six weight Bamboo light gear consisting of only necessary flies, hot tea and lots of tippet material traveling light and quickly.. First hint at a possible perfect morning is lack of any other humans far as my eyes can fathom!
Next not too cold and no snakes. After finding isolated deep pools or fast water rippling and easy to reach. Hatches of insects I have many patterns in my pockets multi rising wild trout reading currents not needed. First cast hits water and slam fish on glistening bright colors in the chilled sunrise. If its Brook Trout then my eyes marvel at the golden colors as they flash about healthy dancing aqua jewelry never to be forgotten... These few perfect mornings fly by time wise.
I look at my old Rolex and its 11am already hours have passed and my hands are cold, face tingling from ice cold water spray. As I take a front row seat leaning against a tree sipping last Luke warm tea and gaze up and down the little creeks and streams that run through my life fly fishing. Smelling wet fallen leaves in cold late Fall as summer slips into sweet dreams of endless wrist pulls and catch and release over and over and over...
I always say silent thank you prayers to the Lord of Lords for my endless good luck living the fly fisher life. Try hard to watch the many little dramas that happen almost inevitably just under my feet. Tiny ants moving food all around. Belding Squirrels moving like mini race cars up down trees. Birds and their sound symphonies and the fresh green smells everywhere.
On occasion I have found mushrooms and wild berries and truffles. All these sensory attacks giving perfect mornings full three dimensionality. After letting creeks, streams reset and get back to no human intervention activity. I carefully work new pools or ripples one last time before calling it a perfect morning.
In the time I lived near Niagra Falls upstate New York circa early 1970s My 12 gauge semi auto Remington shotgun was always stowed near my three or four fly rods in the trunk of my gold 1971 Camaro. Fall meant knocking on farmers doors with bottles of single malt scotch and huge smile seeking permission to hunt Pheasant.
Wondering many small creeks and streams loaded with still wild trout! One 5am around mid September I was approaching a small creek full of fair sized Rainbows only me and two Owls were watching pure slow running water.
Fish rising all around my heart racing hurrying to get my Grasshopper with Nymph dropper tied just right. Fish were rising three feet in front of me. Expectations for a trip to remember were high. Suddenly a large flock of Mallards landed taking up residence and the party was over... The farmer laughed and said, "You want the scotch back young man?"
In deep Alaska in the 1980s working with a guide who was gifted my day began by catching almost all available species of salmon and trout in one day. A rare potential Grand Slam was possible. We worked several hours looking for a nice silver Salmon and a Dolly Varden to make the Slam work. Several nice 12 inch Rainbows were caught and released as was another Jack Salmon. Lunch was long and slow as we had been out early before sun up.
My guide said he knew several places where the Dollies would be for sure. We walked for an hour over fallen trees and stumbled across a Bull Moose who after seeing us began stomping in the water letting us know he was not happy! Finally we found a small tributary of crystal clear water thought to be home to many Dolly Varden. As we began working an odd event happened. Suddenly large amounts of floating fallen leaves and tree debris floated in and killed any chance of Grand slam hopes for the day...
In northern Vermont mid 1970s visiting an old Marine pal who had bought property blessed with tiny creeks and streams full of trout my expectations were high for endless action armed with 4 weight Bamboo and tiny flies with almost invisible tippits. We had great conversations about our time together as two teenage Marines in Vietnam 1965-66.
Breakfast was wonderful featuring pancakes and maple syrup I still remember. As we walked out toward the first little creek his Labrador running and sniffing I was so happy with my old friend and not a soul but us about to have a morning to cherish.
We had both just started working dry flies as many rising fish were active and out of nowhere fifty or more wild Geese landed and it was over! We both heart broken started to laugh remembering many times in the Marines when everything went south fast and we had to survive by implementing the three rules all Marines live by! When stuff hits the fan Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.
In upper California the special Trucke River runs through the edge of the town of Trucke. Still holding on to true western frontier spirit cowboy hats and occasional horses quaint stop on any fly fishers tour.
Have spent many timeless days mornings working the river fueled by Lake Tahoe run off at its headwaters. One of my easy access after great breakfast haunts is near town down in a gully where you can watch hiway commuters with jealous smiles head for work.
One has to be especially stealthy to have any success as locals and travelers work this water harder then Baseball players work tobacco chew. I never get near the water after 7.30 am and always approach slowly watching for any rises. One cool late October morning I had it made no fellow bug throwers and not so cold my fingers hurt. After deciding to begin with dry fly work as the rises were frequent.
I climbed up a small rock pile and threw about thirty feet into a steady current running down the middle. From around a sharp bend came 10 rafters in their bright balloon like multi colored craft screaming yelling and laughing. As they came near me within ten feet three at once yelled, “Hey how you doing, catch anything? How is the fishing? “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome indeed!
In the mid 1990s during a long trip to France where I stayed mostly in the jewel city Paris. I made friends with a land owner who boasted he had property with several streams holding trout never disturbed by fly fishers. As the land belonged to his family for generations allowed no anglers to upset the tranquility! We hit it off after I told him my life was mostly fly fishing with rare Bamboo fly rods and my own fly patterns.
He seemed open to my spending two days working his pristine waters and maybe writing a piece he would keep in family history books was the plan. On the first day after one of the most delicious French breakfasts consisting of home baked croissants and local mushroom omelets. We wondered down to a stream no more then fifty feet across about ten feet deep and meandering about two miles through the property.
To say I was elated and charmed beyond words would not capture my frame of mind. What grand luck I had to come upon this fly fisher heaven! No surface action or rises so I tied my best French style nymph and began working the riffles bam fish on within ten seconds. As I unhooked and let the small trout splash back into peaceful existence.
A large group of French choir boys age 10 to 16 in full form singing and dancing came rushing all around me with their visiting choir master... Alas divine intervention.
Best laid plans of mice and men. One very chilly late Fall morning while working the ripples on the American River I spent two hours trying to entice two rising trout about forty feet across the slow running water unsuccessfully!
Tried several patterns from Grasshopper to fat Mosquito. Changed the angle of cast and waded close as possible no luck. So I sat down on cold rock sorting through my favorite patterns when up walked a young Dad in his thirties with his seven year old son. They strung up the little spinning outfit put on a bright red salmon egg and caught two nice Bows before I could pack up head down laughing and head back to my favorite Placerville Café...
Written by Dan Fallon © 2016