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Puppy Love

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

I’m a Dad again! I have a new son. He’s now about 11 weeks old. His name is Ruffles. Here’s a picture:

This kid is a handful, but we’re trai…no, make that, he’s training us. And although he’s about as much a watchdog or a hunting dog as a goldfish would be, and although his primary mission in life seems to be acting like a goofball, he has one stellar attribute: His super-soft ginger-colored wavy locks are just begging to be used on a trout fly.

So I stole a tiny snip while he terrorized his squeaky squirrel toy, and tied a couple up.  Here’s the recipe:

Hook:  #14 Gamakatsu “Executive Series, Keel-Balance” C13U
Body:  SemperFli “Dirty Bug Yarn,” Caddis Brown
Weight:  Size 0.010 weight wire, your choice of type
Ribbing:  Wapsi Ultra- wire, red, small
Thread:  Dark brown or black
Hackle:  One small light brown partridge soft-hackle feather
Tail:  A small snip of hair from Ruffles The Puppy

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Precious Metal

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In England and still throughout Commonwealth countries, local roads made of crushed granite fragments are often called “metal roads” or “metalled roads,”  since “metalling” was defined as the practice of binding gravel or crushed stone in a bit of tar to render a rural road durable. If such a term can be applied to overland routes, perhaps a tiny little river that cuts its way through a canyon of granite slabs and litters its bed with the shards of those rocks can be figuratively called “metal” as well.

And so as I type this, I think back on yesterday’s fishing outing with the kind of feeling I suspect the old prospectors might have had when they struck a vein — when men like George Hearst or Pablo Flores hit a shiny seam or mother lode that put a family on the historical map. I think back to the mountain stream I fished yesterday, called the Silver Fork, and I realize that I too have struck “precious metal.”

In this case the effect was to take me off-map, rather than put me on. The Silver Fork of the American River is a tiny tributary of the American River’s South Fork, which itself is one of three separate larger forks of the total Californian American River watershed. The Silver Fork joins the South Fork from a small granite side-canyon high in the tall pines eco-zone; it is a flow of which relatively few are aware, given that most folks scream past the diminutive confluence bent only on shaving a minute off their time to or from the Tahoe casinos.

In this mountain range, such a stream setting is as classic as it gets. Across time, the Silver Fork has carved a small but noteworthy channel through High Sierra granite slabs, and even now slides mostly across them. Although there are loose pebbles in abundance, it is not really a freestone waterway because its real base is largely solid rock. As a result, insect life variety and quantity is somewhat less than what other river bottoms can sustain, and that affects fish growth rates. Terrestrial food supplies are a predominant source of nourishment here. Most water is shallow, and it’s all as clear as the air above it. Roll casts are indispensable, and floating fly lines are the only type that make any sense.

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A Tale of Two Fish

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In January I spent a morning fishing a small river I’d visited several times in the prior two months, further honing my so-called “line of sight” skills and enjoying some success. I’d noticed in these outings that arriving at dawn mattered little because there was never any action until around 9 to 9:30 am…likely due to laziness on the part of the subaquatic insect life. Still I’d show up shortly after first light each time, full of coffee and hope.

This time of year this tailwater is no more than a small creek as little as thirty feet wide in some places. I always stepped in at the same hole, served by a well-beaten trail and a convenient clean log where gear (and one’s posterior) could be placed and boots could be tied. Why did I use the same on-ramp that every other joe used? Because using my own fly and my own techniques, I always still caught good fish from this little hole.

As luck would have it, this morning I’d met a fisheries biologist in the gravel parking lot while donning my waders — he was part of a team contracted by the state to perform fish counts and report on habitat. They too were getting into waders and readying non-lethal fish-stunning gear. We chatted briefly, he promised not to stick their cattle-prod-contraptions near where I was planning to fish, and he gave me his card.

I got down to the water and flogged away. At precisely 9:30am I caught a nice rainbow — one that had good size for this tiny place. About a half hour later I caught a second one on the same fly using the same methods, nearly as long but fatter. I photographed each before release. Both fish:

—   Were clearly of the Oncorhynchus genus (i.e. North American trout)

—   Were wild-hatched (adipose fins were intact)

—   Lived in the same hole

—   Subsisted on the same diet

—   Were almost identical in size and therefore probably age

—   Had never migrated to larger water despite this stream having a direct shot to the Pacific

—   Had struck the same fly at the same time of day

—   Had struck the fly exactly the same way (same “demeanor”)

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