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“Blue Upright”

by Steve Raymond
Steve Raymond writes about a favorite fly pattern in his book "Blue Upright."
Excerpted from
Blue Upright: The Flies of a Lifetime (Lyons Press, August 2004, 224 pages).

IT WAS MY FIRST FISHING trip to the spring creeks around Sun Valley, Idaho, and I needed advice about where to go and what flies to use. A friendly clerk behind the counter at Dick Alf’s fly shop answered my questions and helped me choose some flies from the large selection on display.

Most of the fly patterns were familiar, but then something different caught my eye. It was a mayfly pattern, a small Green Drake, and it was the most realistic imitation I had ever seen. It was also incredibly delicate, as ephemeral as . . . well, a real mayfly. It looked as if it were about to rise out of the box on the counter and fly away.

I picked it up and made note of its unusual construction: Except for the hackle, the entire fly — tail, body and wing — had been tied from a single feather. I recognized the feather as mallard breast; it had been dyed light green, then reversed to form a lifelike extended body, with two fibers left pointing rearward as a V-shaped tail. The part of the feather left over after construction of the body had been forced into an upright position and trimmed to form the wing. A few turns of badger hackle on either side of the wing completed the simple pattern.

I was entranced. I doubted I would need any Green Drake imitations for the local spring creeks, but I knew I wanted some samples of this pattern to serve as models, because it seemed to me that here was a method of fly construction with almost infinite possibilities.

So I bought several of the flies, put them in a little plastic box and took them home, without realizing I didn’t even know the pattern’s name. Later I found out it was called the Hatchmatcher, or sometimes Hatchmaster, and either name was fitting. I also learned it wasn’t a specific pattern so much as a generic style of tying, one that could be adapted to imitate virtually any mayfly species. I never did learn who invented this style, but Dick Alf has been credited with popularizing it, to the extent that it has ever become popular.

He certainly popularized it for me. Using the flies I purchased from his shop as models, I spent much of the following winter tying Hatchmatcher-style mayfly patterns. At first I used dyed mallard breast feathers, the same as those in the samples I had bought, but then I began experimenting with other feathers, including goose flank, pheasant rump, even dyed saddle hackle. All worked, but mallard breast and goose flank were best; they were easier to manipulate and held their shapes better than any of the others.

A fine imitation of the March Brown took shape from a plain, undyed brown mallard flank feather plus a few turns of brown hackle. A mallard breast feather dyed pale yellow and a few twists of ginger hackle resulted in a fly that put the Light Cahill to shame. A gray goose flank feather teamed with natural black hackle produced a fine imitation of the Callibaetis dun, and a plain, undyed gray mallard breast feather paired with grizzly hackle yielded an excellent Ephoron pattern.

But I still needed a good imitation of the spinner stage of the Callibaetis, and after trying and rejecting several combinations I finally hit on one with a mallard breast feather dyed very dark blue for the tail, body and wing, plus a few turns of natural black hackle. When I tied it, I had no idea this pattern ultimately would bring me more fish than all my other Hatchmatchers combined; I knew only that it looked like a good imitation of the Callibaetis spinner, the mayfly many anglers call the Blue Upright.

THE HATCHMAKER VERSION OF THE BLUE UPRIGHT is simple to tie but the tying instructions are complex. Perhaps the best place to start is with a brief description of the anatomy of a mallard breast feather.

Each feather has a quill, or stem, thick at the butt and tapering gradually to a fine point at the tip. Fibers stick out on either side of the quill at an angle pointing toward the tip. These fibers are packed together closely and each has microscopic barbs that engage similar barbs on neighboring fibers, almost in Velcro fashion. This locks them together; in the vernacular of fly tyers, the fibers are “married.” To tie a Hatchmatcher pattern, the feather must be reversed so the fibers point in the opposite direction — that is, toward the butt of the quill rather than the tip.

The first step is to choose a feather appropriate to the size of the hook; this takes a little experience but usually becomes second nature after a few tries. Once a feather of the correct size has been selected, the fluff at its base should be trimmed away. Then the quill should be cut near the tip, leaving a V-shaped section of feather. Only the quill should be cut, leaving all the fibers intact on the section of feather that will be used to make the fly. The cut-off tip section may be discarded.

A dubbing needle is then used to separate a single fiber on each side of the tip of the remaining V-shaped section of feather so the fibers are no longer “married” to their neighbors. The two separated fibers should be left pointing toward the tip of the quill in their natural V-shaped orientation; they will become the split tail of the fly.

The remaining fibers of the trimmed feather section should then be taken between thumb and forefinger and stroked carefully toward the butt of the quill, in the opposite direction from their normal orientation. At first they will resist being made to point in this direction, but repeated stroking will overcome this natural resistance. Even when all fibers are finally pointing in the right direction, however, it is still necessary to keep them pinched tightly between the thumb and forefinger or they will soon return to their original posture.

Once the fibers are all going in the right direction — toward the butt of the quill — they can be squeezed together tightly to form what looks very much like the body of a mayfly adult, with the two V-shaped fibers at the tip providing a realistic tail. The compressed body should be placed about three-eighths of an inch behind the eye of a No. 16 hook and bound very tightly in place with tying thread; a tight, secure wrap is necessary to keep the fibers from slipping. For best results, the wrap should just cover the butt of the quill.

If everything has been done properly to this point, a fairly lengthy section of the feather should be left sticking out in front of the wrap, extending beyond the eye of the hook. Grasp this section between thumb and forefinger and force it into an upright position to serve as the wing; a couple of turns of tying thread around the base will help keep it in position, as will a couple of turns fore and aft of the wing.

Once the feather is secure in the upright position, it should be trimmed into the shape of a mayfly wing, with the height proportionate to the length of the body.

The final step is to select a hackle feather and tie it in just forward of the wing; only the very best dry-fly hackle should be used. The hackle should be wound figure-eight fashion fore and aft of the wing; this will provide additional reinforcement to hold the wing in place. At least two turns of hackle should be taken on each side of the wing. When this is done, trim away any remaining excess hackle, finish and lacquer the head, and the fly is ready for fishing.

This is all much less complicated than it sounds, and once you get the hang of it you can tie the pattern in less time than it takes to read the explanation.

Steve Raymond's "Blue Upright"

THE FIRST HATCHMAKER PATTERNS I TIED LOOKED awfully good sitting in the palm of my hand, but I had yet to find out what the trout thought of them. I decided to test them on an isolated pond I knew had a spring hatch of March Browns.

The hatch came up about midafternoon and trout started dimpling soon after the first duns appeared on the surface. I captured one of the flies and compared it to the pattern I had fashioned from brown mallard breast and brown hackle; the artificial looked like a good match. So I tied it on, worked out line and covered a nearby rise.

The fly settled on the surface and cocked nicely in the upright position — something my dry flies don’t always do. It also floated well, projecting a realistic silhouette well above the water. A rainbow trout apparently thought so, too, rising to take the fly confidently. I set the hook, played the fish and landed it, then removed the delicate fly. I expected to find it crushed beyond re-use, but to my surprise it popped back into shape and looked as good as new. I resumed casting, covered another rise and hooked a second trout. By the time I landed that one, the brief hatch had petered out and dry-fly fishing was over for the day. But it was an auspicious beginning for the Hatchmatcher.

A few weeks later I was driving along a stretch of the Ohanepecosh River in Mount Rainier National Park. The river looked so fetching I couldn’t resist the impulse to stop and fish it. The Ohanepecosh derives its name from an exclamatory Indian word that translates roughly as “Oh, look!” and the river is definitely worth looking at. A happy, noisy little stream, it spills around rocks and ledges in the perpetual shadow of a great primeval forest, a river full of pocket water made to order for a light fly rod and a tiny dry fly. The trout inhabiting its cold, clear currents are like bright little jewels, gleaming with the colors of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

I could see a few tiny gray mayflies on the rumpled surface of the river, so I tied on a Hatchmatcher pattern and began making short, quick casts into pockets where I thought trout would hold. The fly set up nicely and floated well, even in the swift currents of the Ohanepecosh. I didn’t fish long — the water was so cold it numbed my legs — just long enough to take two brilliantly colored cutthroat and a single sparkling rainbow on the Hatchmatcher pattern.

Later that summer the same fly seduced several fat, feisty brook trout during an afternoon hatch on an alpine lake in the high Cascades. That turned out to be my last dry-fly fishing of the year, but I was encouraged by the success of the new pattern.

I still had yet to test the Blue Upright version, however. Early next spring I got a chance on little Squalicum Lake, a pastoral body of water near my home town of Bellingham. I was with Lew Lund, a state fisheries biologist and old friend, and Dick Thompson, another old friend and inventor of the TDC pattern described earlier. Our purpose was to sample the lake to determine if fly-fishing-only regulations would be an appropriate form of future management. To do that we needed to get a handle on the numbers and average size of trout in the lake and take stomach samples to get some idea of the variety and abundance of food available.

Catching fish in seines would have been the most efficient way to do this, but it would be a lot more fun to go fishing. We rationalized this choice by convincing ourselves the only way to establish the lake’s potential for fly fishing was to fish it.

So we did. Right away I noticed a few Callibaetis spinners on the water, some still laying eggs, others already spent and dying. Occasional rises indicated the cutthroat had noticed them, too. I tied on one of the Blue Uprights I had made from a dyed dark-blue mallard breast feather and a natural black hackle, and started covering rises. In the next hour I landed five cutthroat.

Stomach samples from these and other fish showed the trout were eclectic feeders — they had a little bit of everything in their stomachs, including Callibaetis spinners. The lake appeared capable of producing trout of reasonable size if they could be protected from angling predation long enough to grow; one way to assure that was to place the lake under fly-fishing-only regulations with a reduced bag limit. That was our recommendation and the State Game Commission approved it.

More than three decades later, Squalicum Lake is still under the same form of management and has become a popular and productive spot for fly fishers from my old home town. For me it also enjoys the distinction of being the first place I saw a trout rise to one of my Blue Uprights.

MAYFLIES OF THE GENUS CALLIBAETIS are spread widely over the waters of the West. Mainly a stillwater insect, the Callibaetis is found in lakes on both sides of the Cascade Range from northern California to British Columbia. It is the mayfly most often encountered by anglers over that vast area, and they call it by several different names in addition to Blue Upright.

The dun, or first adult stage of the Callibaetis, is much different in appearance from the spinner. Newly hatched duns are uniformly gray in color and larger than the spinners; those lucky enough to survive the predation of rising trout and swooping swallows fly to shore and seek shelter in lakeside vegetation, where they undergo a final molt and the Callibaetis spinner emerges.

The spinner has a segmented body of very dark blue, almost black, with thin gold bands dividing the segments; this dark blue color sometimes fades to creamish-brown on the belly of the fly. The wings of the spinner are transparent except for dark mottling along their leading edges; this mottling is responsible for another of the fly’s popular names, the Speckle-Winged Spinner. But when viewed from a distance, either in the air or on the water, the spinner looks blue, accounting for the name Blue Upright.

The spinner is the final stage of the mayfly’s life. After molting into the spinner stage, adult flies copulate in mid-air and the females return to lakeside foliage to wait until their fertilized eggs are ready for laying. Then they fly over the lake and dip repeatedly to the surface, depositing eggs each time until all their eggs are gone.

These flights usually begin about noon on late spring or early summer days and peak a couple of hours later. When the females have exhausted their eggs and their energy, they fall to the surface and struggle to rise again but lack strength to do so. For a while they float on the surface with wings held erect, quintessential Blue Uprights, but exhaustion finally makes it impossible for them to hold their wings upright any longer. The wings droop until at last they touch the surface; the insect, now completely spent, lies spread-eagled and helpless. During each of these stagesâ?? from egg-laying flight to final exhaustion — the spinners are vulnerable to feeding trout.

Most Western lakes have at least small hatches of Callibaetis, but some have emergences of extraordinary proportions. One of the most remarkable is on Oregon’s Hosmer Lake, where I have enjoyed dry-fly fishing that sometimes can only be described as sublime.

Hosmer, of course, is where I learned to fish Lloyd Frese’s Salmon Candy pattern, a wonderfully effective fly when caddisflies are hatching. But caddisflies don’t hatch every day on Hosmer Lake; sometimes they don’t hatch for days on end. By contrast, seldom a spring day passes without a thick swarm of Callibaetis spinners in the afternoon. Sometimes both caddisflies and Callibaetis spinners are on the water simultaneously, leaving anglers wondering which to imitate — but that’s a pleasant problem, for it’s always better to suffer an embarrassment of riches than face poverty.

The first day I fished Hosmer I saw plenty of spinners but didn’t try to imitate them because the fish were obviously feeding on caddisflies. In fact, it was a couple of years before I fully understood the importance of Hosmer’s spinner flights. That happened during a trip when I had fished a Salmon Candy without success for two days while waiting in vain for a caddisfly hatch. I could see salmon taking something from the surface the whole time, and Callibaetis spinners were the only things I could see that they might be taking. So on the third day I decided to try a Blue Upright.

A strong breeze was blowing, as it often does at Hosmer, and each gust dislodged fresh coveys of Callibaetis spinners from the rushes growing around the shoreline. The wind sent many of these flies tumbling to the surface, and I caught a glimpse of a large fish working its way along the shore, tilting upward now and then to inhale a spinner.

I cast ahead of the fish and watched as it approached. It rose gently and took the Blue Upright. I set the hook and the fish continued upward, bursting far out of the water in a great curving leap. It fell back with a splash, then ran hotly toward the shoreline reeds where I was afraid it would break off. Putting dangerous pressure on the light leader, I managed to turn the fish short of the threatening jungle. It leaped a second time, then we traded line for what seemed a long while until the salmon finally broached on the surface.

It weighed six pounds in the net. The No. 16 hook of the Blue Upright was embedded in its tongue, forever resolving any doubts I might have had that such a big fish would rise to such a small fly.

I landed three more large salmon that day, all on the same Blue Upright. Their many high-speed runs blunted the pawl in my Hardy LRH reel, reducing its shrill sound to a hoarse whisper.

The next day the spinners were back, although not in such large numbers; rises were fewer as a result. Nevertheless, the Blue Upright tempted a heavy fish that ran far into the backing before it straightened the No. 16 fine-wire hook and escaped. Later I hooked another that made three trips into the backing, further silencing the Hardy LRH. That fish registered five and one-half pounds on my pocket scale.

After that, the Blue Upright joined the Salmon Candy to form the one-two punch in my Hosmer Lake fly selection, and my diary is filled with accounts of many days when the Upright took twenty or thirty fish or more. Further experience taught me that on rare occasions when Hosmer Lake is calm, the salmon sometimes feed very selectively on spent-wing spinners, ignoring those whose wings are still upright. So I began tying Blue Uprights that weren’t upright, dividing the single wing into two and tying the fly so that each wing stuck out horizontally at right angles to the body. The pattern worked when I tried it; I later found it worked even better if tied without hackle.

I also found success with the Blue Upright on other waters — Oregon’s Davis Lake, Washington’s Chopaka Lake, many British Columbia lakes. I even used it in New Zealand, where the Blue Upright captured a brace of heavy trout in the mighty Clutha River below its outlet from Lake Wanaka.

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PUZZLED why more people haven’t adopted the Hatchmatcher or Hatchmaster style of tying. Considering the lengths to which some tyers go to construct mayfly imitations — elaborate detached bodies, exotic dubbing combinations, parachute hackles, burnt wings, etc. — the Hatchmatcher is simplicity itself. Not only that, but it produces a far more realistic imitation than any I have seen created by other methods.

Using different feathers or different color combinations, the Hatchmatcher style can be adapted to match any mayfly species. I carry six different versions in my portable “filing cabinet” of flies and know I can quickly construct others if I need them.

The Hatchmatcher also is extraordinarily durable. It looks so delicate you wouldn’t think it could survive a single fish, but its delicacy is the very reason for its durability — there is virtually nothing a trout can sink its teeth into. If a hooked trout bends the wing or flattens the hackle, each will quickly return to shape as soon as the fly is removed from the fish. I have caught as many as twenty trout on the same Hatchmatcher without having to replace it.

It’s not as if the Hatchmatcher style of tying were a secret; it has been described in several books. Maybe its false appearance of fragility is one reason it isn’t more popular, or maybe the reverse-feather technique appears more intimidating than it really is (if I can do it, any tyer can!). Whatever the reason, I know of only a few others who tie and fish the Hatchmatcher regularly — but I think they would agree it’s the best of all mayfly imitations.

SEVERAL SEASONS of tying and fishing blue uprights finally exhausted my supply of dyed dark blue mallard breast feathers, but rather than go through the messy, time-consuming trouble of dying another lot, I decided to search for a substitute.

At first I found nothing suitable, but then one day I had the idea of trying to reverse a dark, metallic-green feather from the neck of a Chinese pheasant rooster, just to see what would happen. To my surprise, I found the feather lost its metallic green luster when reversed and became dark blue-gray in color, very close to the shade I was trying to match. Not only that, but it had a brown quill, similar to the color found on the belly of natural Callibaetis spinners.

The pheasant feather was a little harder to work with than mallard breast, but once reversed it seemed to hold its shape even better. And when I tested it on the Atlantic salmon in Hosmer Lake, the pheasant pattern proved at least the equal of the old mallard breast imitation.

Chinese pheasant rooster neck feathers were common and easy to get when I began using them. Many fly shops sold pheasant skins with the neck feathers still attached, and I had several bird-hunting friends who also brought me feathers.

But pheasant hunting has changed greatly in recent years. So much habitat has been lost that wild birds are now far less common than they used to be. These days, hunters are often forced to rely on farm-raised birds, released for sporting purposes like hatchery trout. For some reason — probably dietary deficiencies — these farm-raised birds seem unable to grow usable neck feathers.

Not surprisingly, the disappearance of wild Chinese pheasant from the fields also has meant the disappearance of their skins from the shelves of fly shops. Since the sparse, ragged neck feathers of farm-raised birds are useless for tying, they are almost always trimmed off before the skins of farm-raised birds are placed on sale.

I wasn’t aware of any of this until I used up my supply of neck feathers and went looking for more. It was an unpleasant surprise to discover they were simply no longer available, either commercially or from any of my bird-hunting friends. If I wanted to tie more Blue Uprights — and I did — it looked as if I would have to go back to using dyed mallard breast.

But I refused to give up. Each time I visited a new fly shop I would check to see if it had any wild pheasant skins with neck feathers still attached. If none were on display, I would ask if there were any in the back room.

The answer always was no — until one day I walked into a new shop in the Olympic Peninsula town of Port Angeles. The young proprietor was friendly and we struck up a conversation while I examined the materials he had on display. He asked if there was something in particular I was looking for and I told him my sad story about Chinese pheasant rooster neck feathers.

He grinned. “I’ve got a whole bunch of them in the back room,” he said. “I still get a few wild-bird skins with neck feathers, but I always cut them off because I didn’t know anybody used them for anything. I’ve been saving them up and wondering what to do with them.”

He went into the back room and came out with a large plastic bag filled with some of the best-looking Chinese rooster neck feathers I’d seen in a long time. Delighted, I dumped the contents on the shop counter and went through it, setting aside the very best feathers until I had a pile large enough to last the rest of my life.

“How much?” I asked.

“Oh, how about five bucks for the lot?”

It was a deal, one of the best purchases of fly-tying materials I’ve ever made.

EVEN AFTER SPLITTING THE FEATHERS WITH MY SON, I still probably have enough to last the rest of my fly-tying life. But the Blue Upright has another ingredient as important as the feather used for the tail, body and wing — and that, of course, is the hackle.

The hackle situation is the opposite from that of neck feathers. The advent of “genetically engineered” roosters has made it possible to acquire dry-fly hackle of superior or excellent quality almost anywhere, provided you can afford it. That wasn’t always true; when I started tying Hatchmatcher-style flies, most tyers relied on necks from Indian or Philippine gamecocks. These varied widely in quality, and sometimes necks that were advertised as suitable for dry flies turned out to be otherwise, especially if ordered sight-unseen from a mail-order supplier.

In those days everyone had his eye out for good hackle. That continuing quest led to one of the strangest episodes in the history of the Washington Fly Fishing Club.

It began when sheriff’s deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, raided an illegal cockfight at an abandoned mink farm in a rural area south of Seattle. The deputies handed out citations to the cockfight sponsors and seized fifty-four live gamecocks and three dead losers to use for evidence in court. The live birds were held in captivity; the dead ones went into the freezer.

When the case went to trial, an attorney representing the birds’ owners told the judge their owners wanted them back. The prosecutor argued the gamecocks met the state’s definition of illegal gambling equipment and shouldn’t be returned. The judge sided with the prosecutor, whereupon county authorities ordered the birds destroyed.

Sixteen roosters already had died in captivity; the thirty-eight survivors were put to death by lethal injection. The county then offered the carcasses for sale to the highest public bidder. Ever alert to the possibilities of obtaining some premium dry-fly hackle, officers of the Washington Fly Fishing Club decided to submit a bid of $1 per rooster.

It turned out that was the only bid received, so the club ended up the proud owner of thirty-eight dead gamecocks. Four were in such bad shape they were thrown into the garbage. The rest were separated from their feathers by club members at a unique “skinning party,” during which copious amounts of Scotch whiskey were consumed.

Despite having been skinned by club members under the influence of single-malt whiskey, the gamecock necks contained some of the prettiest dry-fly hackle you ever saw. They were auctioned at a club meeting and many fly tyers went home toting plastic bags full of hackle. The auction proceeds were used to send deserving kids to summer camp.

Some of those hackles ended up on Blue Uprights. Who says the justice system doesn’t work?

There is evidence, mostly anecdotal but still persuasive, that Callibaetis hatches have declined in recent years in waters all along the West Coast, from California to Canada.

The hatches that still occur also now appear to come earlier than ever, peaking two or three weeks before they once did. This is especially true in high-elevation lakes, where the ice cover that used to remain until late May is now often gone by the beginning of the month — which might explain why the hatches are earlier and smaller. Global warming is a likely culprit, but other factors also may be at work. Many waters that once supported enormous mayfly hatches have long been managed as put-and-take fisheries, routinely overstocked with voracious hatchery trout that over the years have made great inroads into mayfly populations. Oil slicks from outboard motors undoubtedly have contributed to declining insect populations in other waters, and silt kicked up by unthinking float-tube fishermen in shallow lakes has surely smothered the eggs of many aquatic insects.

Hosmer Lake has not been exempt from this. Its mayfly hatches are still more prolific than those of most other waters, but nowhere near as intense as they once were. Hosmer also faces many problems in addition to declining hatches. Some years ago the lake’s population of sea-run Atlantic salmon was replaced by true landlocked salmon from Sebago Lake in Maine, and these fish have fallen far short of their predecessors in terms of sporting qualities. The landlocks do not live as long, grow as large, rise as willingly or fight as well as the sea-run fish, and their introduction has led to a decline in the fishing from extraordinary to merely ordinary.

Other problems are due to irresponsible management. For reasons that defy explanation, the state began stocking brook trout in Hosmer Lake, which already had a small self-sustaining population of brook trout. As a result of the stocking, the brook trout population exploded; swarms of fry appeared in the shallows, gobbling up nearly all the food in sight. As numbers increased, average size decreased, and now the lake has many brook trout in the eight- to ten-inch size range. On my last trip I caught more brook trout than salmon for the first time ever. The exploding brook trout population also is surely one reason for the decline of the lake’s Callibaetis hatches.

As this is written, there is a movement afoot in Oregon to end stocking of “exotic” (non-native) fish species. This would clearly be wise policy in many instances, but because salmon are unable to spawn successfully in Hosmer Lake, it would mean the end of the lake’s unique, highly popular Atlantic salmon fishery. Brook trout, on the other hand, can and do spawn successfully at Hosmer, so in the absence of salmon they would have the entire lake to themselves — an ironic result, since brook trout also are an exotic species in Oregon.

For all these reasons, the future of the Hosmer Lake fishery appears highly uncertain.

Equally uncertain is the future of the scenic area around the lake, which is under increasing attack by corrupt Forest Service bureaucrats. The problem began with congressional approval of a so-called “fee demonstration” program requiring people using Forest Service campgrounds, including the two at Hosmer Lake, to pay for the privilege of occupying property they already own as American citizens. In authorizing this dubious, highly unpopular program, Congress apparently overlooked a statutory provision offering liability protection to owners of lands used for public recreation; the provision applies only if such use is free, so the protection was lost as soon as fees were charged.

This exposed the Forest Service to the threat of lawsuits from persons injured by falling trees or other campground accidents. The Forest Service, however, saw this as an opportunity rather than a problem: an opportunity to cut more trees. After all, if a campground has no trees, then campers can’t be injured by falling timber.

The Bend-Ft. Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest, where Hosmer Lake is located, began holding timber sales in campgrounds. Campgrounds at Davis Lake, Crane Prairie, Big and Little Lava Lakes and other spots in the Oregon Cascades were logged, leaving once scenic, shaded spots with about as much outdoor ambience as a strip-mall parking lot. The loss of wildlife and wildlife habitat was enormous.

All this happened without protest, but when the Forest Service announced plans to log the campgrounds at Hosmer Lake it ran into opposition. A group of Hosmer Lake anglers and campers called the Friends of Hosmer filed multiple appeals opposing the logging plans.

The appeals slowed but did not stop the destructive forces at work. As bureaucrats wrangled, logging crews chipped away little by little at the campgrounds, cutting more so-called “hazardous” trees each year (by Forest Service definition, any tree in any national forest may be considered hazardous).

Finally, in the fall of 2001, the last appeal was decided. Despite unchallenged evidence that Forest Service officials had submitted false testimony and violated both federal law and regulations, the Friends of Hosmer appeal was denied. That was no surprise; under federal regulations, the Forest Service (or the Farce Service, as I now think of it) is allowed to sit in judgment of appeals against its own actions. Guess how most appeals turn out.

So everything at Hosmer is threatened: Its breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, its mayfly and caddis hatches, its unique population of Atlantic salmon. If you want to enjoy any of these, the best advice is to go there soon.

Maybe I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one fishing a Blue Upright.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
 
Steve Raymond is the author of Rivers of the Heart, Steelhead Country, The Year of the Angler, The Year of the Trout, and other fly fishing books.  A winner of the Roderick Haig-Brown Award for significant contributions to angling literature, Raymond also has been editor of The Fly Fisher and Fly Fishing in Saltwaters magazines. Excerpted from Blue Upright by Steve Raymond (The Lyons Press, August 2004, 224 pages) Article copyright © 2005 Steve Raymond and The Lyons Press.
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