While Chi Wulff writes thoughtful, intelligent pieces about legal threats to fly fishing, we’re willing to explore a darker, trendier threat to our beloved sport.
Because the Underground’s interested only in your safety, I’d suggest leaving all the small streams and backcountry stuff alone. Forever.
You never know where you’ll find a zombeaver.
See you saving the lives of fly fishers everywhere, Tom Chandler.
The Redding Record-Searchlight has reported a train derailment in the Upper Sacramento River canyon, and while it’s the kind of news that causes me to suck in a little more air than normal, this time we seem to be OK.
Four boxcars derailed under an I5 overpass just north of Pollard Flat (one of them apparently hit the support pillar). One ended up in the river, but according to the Record-Searchlight, it was carrying scrap paper. The other three cars were empty.
(The Undergrounders who fish the Upper Sac a lot might want to test their memory and place the derailment on the river using these pictures.)
Everybody knows this river was largely sterilized by a derailment and metam sodium spill in 1991, and there have been several derailments since.
I believe this is Union Pacific’s major North/South train corridor, so train traffic is heavy. And not to put too fine a point on it, I5 runs up the canyon too.
Lots of traffic. Lots of trains. Lots of risk.
In other words, give the Upper Sac a hug next time you fish it.
The L&T and the kids were elsewhere, so with two hours to spare on a Sunday afternoon, I ended up at Chris Raine’s fly rod shop, handling an 8′ 7wt rod he built to fish bushy October Caddis and stonefly dries.
Raine’s been a tear lately — the family business is closed until March, so he’s been turning out bamboo fly rods like it was easy.
For the record, bamboo fly rods are not easy, but when performing a series of painstakingly precise, highly repetitive tasks, it’s clearly possible to work up a good head of steam.
His goal was to fill his outstanding orders and stock the “impulse” rack (some folks actually have the money to buy a cane rod on impulse).
Because he’s a fisherman, he also wanted to build something for himself.
Which is where it gets interesting.
Raine builds gorgeous fly rods in a market where many buyers let a magnifying glass determine a rod’s worth — sometimes before they’ve even cast it.
The vast majority of his sales are the longer, lighter fly rods that respond well to hollowbuilding (like his 8′ 4wt and new 8’3″ 5wt).
But in his “off” hours, he crafted a rod using stained cane, chrome guides, a scratched reel seat and a ferrule manufactured in 1998.
He also built it on an experimental taper that has little or no commercial value, and in a line weight more common to a modern bonefish rod.
Yet the rod’s no throwaway; it weighs a featherish 3.5 ounces, casts beautifully, bosses big flies smartly and still bends enough that you’ll feel — as Wayne Eng puts it — the “heartbeats” of even an average trout.
See, I said it was getting interesting.
When your goal is to slap a bulky, wind-resistant October Caddis dry into a one-inch seam, accuracy matters. At least it feels that way when you miss. Today’s fisherman is likely to replace line mass with line speed, casting big dries with lighter line weights. That works at longer ranges, but at short ranges, the bushy flies open up the loops.
Which is where the 7wt suddenly starts to make sense.
So while a builder’s unlikely to sell a relatively full-flexing 8′ 7wt, a fisherman who lives on a good October Caddis river and understands physics might want to fish one.
This is why I like hanging with bamboo rod builders; they’re an iconoclastic bunch prone to tinkering, and you never know what’s going to emerge from the dark recesses of their shops.
They’re like evil geniuses, but instead of the apocalypse, they produce obsolete fly rods the market doesn’t want, but fishermen should probably embrace.
See you on the river, Tom Chandler.
I was saddened when the sharp-tongued, insight-rich On The Public Record blog ceased to be; the anonymous writer offered up some of the most-intelligent words written on California’s water scene.
Well, he’s back.
And yes, I’m all tingly.
His latest post concerns California’s looming drought (still no water in the forecast), and in typically insightful fashion, he wonders why — when things go bad and people start talking “emergency powers” — it’s always the environment that gets shot in the ass:
I am reading a fair amount of talk about the governor’s emergency powers. Messrs Peltier and Santoyo keep bringing them up. After an emergency is declared, they say, the governor could use his emergency powers to weaken environmental laws. I haven’t yet heard anyone speculate about any other emergency powers. Could the governor use emergency powers to choose a couple million acres of land to fallow, allowing the water we do have to go further on the remaining irrigated acreage? Could the governor decide that with what little water we have available, we can’t afford to be irrigating crops that don’t directly provide calories to Californians? Maybe the governor’s emergency powers could rule out irrigating alfalfa or almonds*. Maybe the governor should decide that in these crucial dry years, we must protect what’s left of the Central Valley aquifers by banning groundwater pumping. Maybe the discussion of what the governor’s emergency powers could do shouldn’t begin and end with ‘gut the Endangered Species Act’.
California’s water landscape proves that money has a gravity all its own; water always flows towards it. And yes, barring a February/March Miracle, we’re going to see more whining, posturing, pouting and backstabbing than the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Don’t miss it.
See you watching the skies (and the political landscape), Tom Chandler.
I’m completing the Underground’s Trilogy of “here comes the massive, drought-ending storm” posts by noting it’s sunny outside. And in point of fact, it’s been sunny outside.
So much for the end of California’s drought.
Even the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center — whose job actually becomes a lot easier when there’s no snow — is basically sobbing:
Short term and long term, it doesn’t look good. I’m sorry. Find the person closest to you, grab their hand, look them deep in the eyes and say, “It’s going to be okay…”. Thats about all the advice I can offer at this point for all that are drooling for winter, myself included!
Through his tear-stained keyboard, Ranger Nick Meyers goes on to note that we’re looking at several more weeks of dry, warmer-than-normal weather.
It’s never pretty when grown men cry.
Because the Underground occupies a leadership position in the online world, I’m forced to punish the forecasters responsible for this weekend’s abject weather failure.
Accordingly, I’ve issued an order to have their weather fingers chopped off.
Not because they failed to make the right forecast (they’re only human after all), but because they failed to make the snow fall.
It’s accountability at that level that separates the Underground from the other online weather sites. After all, they’re only willing to meekly report the weather.
We’re willing to make the weather our bitch, eventually forcing it to rain.
See you wearing a phalange necklace, Tom Chandler.
Sadly, this weekend’s “big, drought-busting” storm is looking more like a warmup than the real event (and the real event is nowhere on the horizon).
Which means it’s time to talk… spring creeks.
Sure, call it a defeatist attitude, but when the skies deny you next year’s small stream water, it’s time to start aiming next year’s fishing trips at places like Fall River — a giant spring creek that fishes well, but runs through private land.
Access is an issue.
The good news is the Fall River Conservancy and CalTrout made a lot of improvements to CalTrout’s public access area. Easier to park, launch, secure your boat, etc.
It’s all part of CalTrout and the Fall River Conservancy’s multi-year effort to restore Hat Creek and the Fall River — efforts which include streambank restoration, access improvements, etc.
Restoring some of California’s best spring creeks is a good idea in any case, but with the state in the grip of a multi-year drought, the project is starting to look positively prescient.
See you wondering where to fish next year, Tom Chandler.