Came home from the usual run of errand stops on Monday and my wife had strategically placed the cardboard shipping tube and USPS boxes where I would see them as soon as I walked in the door — after all these years, she knows me pretty well and besides, I think she secretly delights in watching me well-up and squeal like a little girl now and then.
I think it is some kind of subliminal test she conducts (perhaps without even fully realizing she is doing it) to affirm my manhood and fitness as a mate — “yup, he broke down over new fishing gear. He’s obviously a hunter/gatherer, interested in providing food for the table and he can be sensitive as well — baby daddy material — and he’s all mine!”
Anyway, my new Pflueger 9-ft, 8-wt fly rod and Okuma large arbor reel along with some Cortland 8 wt sinking tip line had finally arrived from Troutlet.com.
I say “finally” but it is in the same way as one would shout “Finally!” after winning a huge, undeserved jack pot or something. In actuality. my new rig arrived in about a week from the time I ordered it online. Quick, efficient, and right to the door — not that I mind rooting around the local fly shop for hours at a time, but a week’s wait is a good trade off to jacking up the credit card bill to just under the national debt of Chile.
Needless to say, I spent a very pleasant evening setting up my new rig and getting it ready for it’s maiden voyage. After some careful negotiating with the missus it was determined that we would go to El Dorado Park in Long Beach where she could ride her bicycle and I could hit the small lakes that dot the park.
Next morning I christened the tip of my new rod in coffee (since I don’t drink anymore) and off we went.
The new rig performed admirably and I was able to reach areas that i could not get a fly to before. The cool part was the way it handled the big bass flies with ease, tossing them out past the algae and weeds. The weather had taken a turn toward hot and windless and and the fish had all seemed to hunker down for the day. No one was catching anything anywhere.
Nevertheless, I was quite pleased with how this new rod, reel and line looked, felt and cast. Since it is bigger and stiffer than the rig I normally use, at nine feet, it took a little practice for me to get used to it. I spent a little under an hour casting at the ducks and stuff until I was comfortable with it.
So far, I think I got a great deal and I can’t wait to take it out to the beach, which is what I purchased it for in the first place.
Who says you can’t have Christmas in June!
“Serendipity”. A ten dollar word that translates to roughly, ” I had no freakin’ idea that would turn out so totally awesome”. It’s a word to use when you want to throw a kink in the stereotype that brownliners are a step down on the flyfishing/intelligence hierarchy. It is also how I would d escribe our day on the water this past Sunday.
About 3:30 in the afternoon we headed off to La Mirada park to try our luck among the hard core catfish fisher-folk and the innumerable kids that were hurling enough lead at the lake to make it feel like a beach assault. We hop-scotched between the families feeding the predatory ducks, squeezing in just close enough so as not to appear too predatory ourselves but near enough to piggyback on the chum line being laid down by all the two and three year olds emptying their bags of cheetos into the lake. The wind was steady and made for a slight chop on the water, which was good for stealth but bad for anything other than casts made to the East. Our slow but fruitless dance around the lake was interrupted only to give a short lakeside instructional session to a ten-year old who nearly stove in the back of my head with the cannonball he was using for weight.
We had just about decided to move to another lake when my 8 foot, 5-weight “dinked”. I honestly thought I had snagged some algae but played in the line anyway. Sure enough, I had managed to hook up with quite possibly the smallest large mouth bass on the planet. Exhausted from the battle, I forgot to snap a photo but it wouldn’t have a mattered much anyway unless you use a hi-def,=2 0home-theater sized screen for a computer monitor. Still a fish is a fish and it boosted our spirits just to know that we could, in fact catch a fish in an urban lake even amid the barrage of live fire lead and rooster tails.
Knowing that retreat is an effective and honorable strategy, we opted to head over to Laguna Lake, which despite it’s name, is located in the middle of Fullerton — about fifteen minutes away. Now, old-timers who haven’t been there in the last three years or so will hear you say Laguna Lake and simply burst out laughing. Laguna lake recently underwent a multi-million dollar make over and it’s once again a decent place to fish. Prior to the fix up though, the place just stank. The water resembled hospital jello and you didn’t have to fish, you just had to walk along the shore and scoop up dead carcasses from underneath the ducks that lined the shore like day workers at Home Depot.
Now, it is a different story.The place is clean, the number of ducks is regulated, the water flows in a cleansing circular pattern thanks to a series of pumps and jets and there is plenty of space to make decent back casts around most of the lake. Plus you can park along the street for FREE. A good number of families were already set up along the shore mostly bait fishing. We headed over to a clump of rushes that had produced for us in the past and we begin fishin’. Almost immediately we began pulling in small bluegills. ; As we split off in different directions, we each continued to haul in bluegill after bluegill. At one point, my cell phone went off while I was playing a ‘gill and the ID indicated that Sean was calling me. I answered, thinking something was wrong. “Dude, switch to a small dry. You won’t be sorry.” I did and I wasn’t. All told, when it finally got too dark to see what we were doing, we counted close to a hundred bluegills and green sunfish caught and released between the two of us.
And that is what you call serendipity.
The June gloom over the Basin broke about 11:00 am on Sunday and I knew that when we walked out of church the weather would fairly scream “let’s go fishin”. Sure enough, when the last notes of music team finished and the ushers threw up the double doors, sunlight and warm air streamed in to the building.
Somewhere somebody had fired up a backyard grill and we knew that we would have to hit the local burger joint before we so much as touched a fly line.
After a pleasant lunch with our wives, we jumped into the car and headed south. I don’t remember actually planning to head south but there must have been a sentence uttered at some point in time that registered in both of our heads and without any real conversation we found ourselves pointed toward Costa Mesa.
Since neither one of us had been that way in a while we decided, rather impromptu, to swing by His & Her Fly Fishing for a little info-gathering reconnaissance and the obligatory purchase of a couple of saltwater flies. If you’ve never b een there, it is worth the trouble of finding it on Old Newport Blvd. — you won’t be disappointed.
Minutes later armed with a half dozen “salty flies” and some hand-written marks on a chamber of commerce map we pulled into a parking lot down on Balboa Peninsula. The irony of Balboa is that we were parked near a gleaming Ferrari, next to a mobile home park, fishing the end of a storm drain outlet while multi-million dollar yachts cruised by just a few dozen yards from where we were laying down our new bugs. We chose to add to the heightened sense of the surreal and the adventure of a new fishin’ spot by not paying the quarter/15 minutes to the flashing meter at the front bumper of my car (I know, I know, brownliners are such hooligans). I figured, since I had parked in the middle of the pack of cars I would see the meter reader in time to stuff the meter before the ticket could be written.
Besides, I think that there is some unwritten rule between Sean & I that paying for parking to fish is…just wrong. Less cash spent in parking fees equals more fliesand gear …or something like that.
Anyway, the only thing biting that day were the sand lice which snacked heartily in our bare feet and legs as we wet-waded. In retrospect, I’m glad I had forgotten my quick drying wading shorts or who knows what else I might be dabbing Calamine lotion on this morning.
Foot-long Mullet jumped constantly and infuriatingly just past where we could reach from shore and despite our best efforts and some pretty awesome long casts by Sean, we just could not entice a bite.
We packed up and headed over to spot number two on the map, which is a tale that will have to wait for another day. However the upshot is that we flailed a lot of air this Sunday but came up empty netted.
Funny thing is, we both were still smiling when we met up with our wives that evening for dinner. I love this sport.
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