TheTenacious Dragon Fly..........................
It was another beautiful day with bugs hatching, damsels and dragon flies everywhere on this famous Idaho spring creek. While sitting in my float tube, casting downstream, during a prolific Pale Morning Dun (ephemerella infrequens) hatch, I noticed that both damsels and dragon flies were competing with the fish to inhale my imitation of a Quigley Cripple! Heck, it was difficult enough to make a perfect, drag free presentation to a single fish without interference from outside sources.
Just as I had watched what I imagined to be the perfect drift approach the fish a huge multi-colored dragon fly decided it would like to taste my imitation. It dropped on my fly and as if it were a Bald Eagle, snatched the Quigley in its talons and flew up over my float tube.
Acting as if I had just hooked one of the 16" McCloud rainbows which were, at one time, introduced to, "The Creek", I dutifully pointed the rod overhead into thin air and gave the monster as much slack as I could. Once realizing that this was a 1 ounce flying critter, I yanked the rod downward to release the devil, only to have it land directly in front of me onto my tube. Ready for the release? Ha, how does one carefully grab a dragon fly and pop the barbless hook.
I then decided to grab the tiny #16 Tiemco and shake, shake but by then the dragon hd taken off and again I was waving my rod over my head trying to follow its flight...... very embarrassing! Again the fly landed, this time in the water, and as I shook the rod to release the fly the tension of the water made the dragon release its, "talons" , allowing me to laughingly reflect on what had just happened.
Fishing With Saint Francis
We affectionately call my husband Saint Francis, as he is a magnet for animals. All animals are attracted to him; horses nuzzle him, birds sing to him, dogs leave their owners to say hello. Even taciturn and reticent 18-year-old cats seek him out and happily nestle in his lap. You get the idea.
On a beautiful spring day on the Fall River, Saint Francis is fishing in the front of the boat with a wide stance for balance. I am seated in the back undoing yet another knot. We both look up to see a little bird being chased by a big bird. Little bird seems to be heading to the tree behind us. My husband keeps fishing and I go back to my knot. Suddenly there is quite a commotion and I look up to see little bird flapping, yet hovering, between my husband’s legs. He has found his protection and stays there for many seconds. My husband turns around to see what has happened only to see little bird fly to sit on the boat rail to recover. Unbelievable what I have just witnessed! He calmly goes back to fishing and I to my knot. It is just another episode in the life of Saint Francis.
Ducks on the Pond....
Let me start by saying that this didn’t happen to me. But, I was there. It was another beautiful day of fishing at Manzanita Lake in Mt. Lassen Wilderness Area. If you know the lake, you know that one of the best ways to fish this jewel is from a float tube. Well, a lot of us were out in our tubes fishing various flies. One of our group had his fly out in front of him just sitting on the water with th efly line forming a straight line back to his tube. Well, before he knew it a mother mallard duck and her family of ducklings swam out from one of the tule islands making directly for his line. By the time he picked them up in his sight it was too late to try and reel in, so he left his line and fly sitting out there. The mother duck just glided right over the line, barely making it move. And so it went, one duckling after another, until the last duckling. The last duckling spotted the fly and made a mad dash for the fly sitting on the water, and (you knew it was coming) grabbed the fly, hooking itself in the bill. Our hapless floattuber decided to wait and see if the duckling could get the barbless hook out itself, and when that didn’t happen, well what could he do? He had to start reeling in the duckling. Well, you never heard such a ruckus. The panicked duckling had no idea what was happening and started to squawk like crazy. At the sound of his distress, the mother duck started raising her own cacophony of alarm. Our, at this point, quite embarrassed hero had no choice but to continue reeling in the duckling to his float tube, remove the hook, and perform a flawless release, none the worse for wear. Did I mention that the ducks were squawking like they were being slaughtered? Well, as you can imagine, every set of eyes on the lake were on our fearless duck catcher, who I’m sure was plenty glad to get his feathered catch and release over and done with before a ranger checked his license for a duck stamp.
Francois du Pain……….
Many years ago, while fishing at the Un-named Ranch, I discovered a new fly out of necessity. On our first day the wind was blowing about 20 mph, just enough to keep those fragile little mayflies from touching the surface. Of course, switch to nymphs! “Oh no” said the ranch manager when we checked in, “the rule is dry flies only!” I sneaked behind a bush, out of sight of the manager and popped a caddis pupa into the water. Wham, first cast and a fish. Theory successfully tested.
As there was no chance in that wind, I decided to return to the cabin and do some tying. Standing on the small bridge were two youngsters throwing chunks of bread into the stream. The results were amazing – fish larger than any I had seen that day charged out from under the bridge, rolling on top of one another, to meet the bread almost before it landed.
The light went on – a French bread fly – croutons no less. I hurried to the vise and began spinning deer hair until the hook was covered. Then to the scissors, cutting a perfect square, a technique I had learned while tying bass poppers. More trimming and ah, ah, the perfect Francois du pain!
Guessing that the manager was sitting at his window with his binoculars, I proceeded to hurry to the other side of the bridge and test my new invention. There is a saying in fly tying that nothing is ever new, despite the attempts by so many of us to create; however, I was certain that this would be a first.
One cast and gone, Francois disappeared under the undulating bodies of four or five fish each of which would have fed a family!! But wait, no sooner could I set the hook but the “fly” popped to the surface. Rejected, I thought, but we’ll see on the next attempt. Sure enough, a repeat performance to be followed by three or four more, until I finally figured out that the hair was not trimmed short enough around the barb.
Lucky for me, as I looked up to see Mr. Manager heading straight for me, almost running, and yelling, “what the ____ are you doing”. Quite seriously I replied, “I am dry fly fishing!” Needless to say, I returned that morning to tie a few more flies and then head down to the hot baths at the end of the creek. Fun day!!!
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