WHAT YOU DOIN’?

Go to most any park in the greater L.A. area on any given Sunday and you will immediately step into a multi-cultural festival of sights, sounds and smells. It is almost like being at the airport, only folks are usually much happier.

Travel guides claim that over 90 languages are commonly spoken in the L.A. basin and it is a simple matter of turning to the left or the right when deciding if it’s going to be Thai, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Peruvian, Indian or African food for dinner.

 Naturally, this multi-culturalism presents an interesting set of interactions when you show up at an urban park to do a little fishing. If you don’t bring a good attitude, an ear for accents and some give-away hooks and leader material, you are more than likely going to end up pestered and frustrated…throw a fly rod into your equipment mix and you are pretty much guaranteed to have an audience of sweaty kids surrounding you wanting to know what you are doing.

 Ironically, many of these kids can tell you how to rig a trot line, set a fish trap, build a weir, snag fish and even use dynamite safely to catch fish. Yet they have no clue what a fly rod is or how one is used.

A while back, I was fishing Legg Lake in the Montebello area when a small herd of kids surrounded me and began the usual rapid-fire list of questions.

After a few minutes, I noticed one of the quieter kids off to the side, imitating my casting style with a tree branch.

I called him over and asked him if he wanted to try a real fly rod. He shook his head affirmative so, much to the delight of his pack-mates, I gave him some simple instructions and let him cast a couple of times.

The smile on his face indicated a new rank in his status amongst his peers. I reached into my pocket and gave him an old, battered wet fly and about ten feet of leader material. I then showed him how to rig it to the end of his old tree branch so that he effectively had a Japanese style fly rod.

I pointed the herd toward a spot I knew from previous visits usually held Bluegill and settled back for what I thought would be a peaceful rest of the afternoon.

About a half hour later the same kid came wondering back my way, clutching his branch as if it were a new Sage 3-wt. and asked me how I was doing.

At the moment I was working on roll casts and not really actively pursuing prey. I replied that I had not caught anything lately.

He looked at my with that look that only another angler can understand and knowingly replied, “You must be doing it wrong then.”

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