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The Adventures of Fletcher Quill


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Winter Yosemite Fly Fishing

Winter Yosemite Fly Fishing

When the muse moves me to again taste Winters exclusive stream side domain. I think of the most beautiful places, I have watched my hand tied flies mingle with the real thing. Thanksgiving usually finds me drawn to Yosemite’s haunting siren whispering to me. "Come on Dan, its icy cold and the once coursing Merced River is now but a hollow shadow of itself". I seem to be blown by ancient winds back over and over to this river and this place. On Thanksgiving morning at 7.30 am.

I stepped into the ice cold Merced River shimmering at a blazing 30 degrees. The water was low and my fingers quickly went almost numb as I tried to carefully tie on a tiny Black Stonefly I tied the night before. I spent many moments taking in the almost stainless steel like grip winter wraps this river in. The colors are almost gone, no flowers or loud screaming birds on this morning. Stream edges were dotted with burnt orange foliage and I saw no fish signs of any kind.

I threw to every area and not a shadow moved or trout gave away its secret place. I saw no other fly fishers and the area I fished in was so quiet and cold, it felt like a three-dimensional icy fresco watercolor using only grey monochrome colors. I was in heaven and though the cold was bitter and my fingers eventually failed to move when asked. I cannot imagine a more peaceful stretch of water enclosed in steep rock face canyon walls shooting for the sky...

Perhaps only poets, actors, magicians, writers, madmen and fly fishers are granted secret decoders when perfect moments occur? I urge all fly fishers to sample the cathedral like wonders of winter fly fishing wherever you may live. If you prepare with all the cold weather gear and handwarmers etc. You may find your secret decoder waiting to be activated. John Keats cradled his secret decoder when he said "aching time! Oh moments big as years"!

In the morning ice cold, favorite Bamboo rod resting in numb fingers as mended line struggles to forget the tight coils it has slept in. Shafts of diffused light shoot at hard angles trying to steel one more morning before next snowfall. Standing up high on a rock ledge and staring mesmerized as the #16 Mosquito darts with each current pulse. The fly is danced near and under every ledge and stream edge over hang. Winter tippets very thin as the low water and super clarity mean extra stealth and caution are the rule.

Standing up high, yet not casting a long shadow is the most satisfying and possibly the closest a human can get to what a cat must feel watching a mouse dart in and out of it’s hole. One’s eye’s become digital radar scanners picking up any movement under water. The first few casts are sad limp attempts as cold fingers fail to remember or care. Then the temperature rises to early 40s and you’re in heaven again. The line flows out fifty feet with ease and your hitting your target almost every time.

Now we are rolling and easily covering every inch of each stream area fished. No hang-ups in tree’s, no retying flies after loosing favorite patterns. A sublime moment when a fly fishers life is good and nature allows your day dreams to feel the light of day...

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